When Grief Strikes, Evil Gets Insane! “Beyond the Darkness” review!


The fiance of an orphaned villa owner named Frank dies in within their last loving embrace. Struck with immense grief, Frank digs up his fiance’s freshly packed corpse, injects her with embalming fluid, discards her major organs, installs glass eyes into her eye sockets, and processes her to be with him forever as a taxidermal doll laying in the bed next to him. Presumably behind Frank’s fiance’s untimely death is Iris, the family housekeeper who has an unhealthy obsession with Frank and his wealth, and when Frank instability goes beyond the means of all reason, an ill-tempered and mentally paralleled Iris swoops in to be Frank’s comfort, voice of guidance, and abetting culprit to Frank’s crimes as he can’t seem to stop killing young women in order to either replace or protect his adored doll and when a nosey mortician snoops around his residence, turmoil between Frank and Iris boil over in a heap of violence turned into a showdown of ill-fated and gruesome death.

“Beyond the Darkness” is by far beyond sick. Director Joe D’Amato (Aristide Massaccesi), one of Italy’s legendary video nasty filmmakers, reaches far into the darkest crevices of the criminally insane and exhibits every aspect of cold and brutal murder when the small window of opportunity and hope goes horribly wrong. The 1979 film shot in the Bressanone area of Italy exudes breathtaking countryside hills; so serene and peaceful that when Frank’s mind breaks and he crosses into an irreversible dark state, his frigid and murderous emotions make him a monolith that shadows the expansively green landscape. Tack on an equally demented housekeeper with a penchant for diabolical motives and the juxtaposition is no where near being level, creating this idyllic nightmare of taxidermy slaughter, a rancid deterioration of the mind, body, and soul, and a perversive obsession of inhuman replacement.

A baby faced Kieran Canter stars as the orphaned villa owner Frank Wyler who can’t handle one more tragic death of a loved one and Canter provides the blank stare, the outer shell of a spent and lost lover, despite his attractive attributes just like his the inner bones of his villa manor and speaking of juxtapositions, “The Other Hell’s” Franca Stoppi over achieves Iris’s internal and external ugliness. Iris, a seeming fixture of a puritanical matriarch in her dress and stature worn magnificently by Stoppi, uses manipulation and supernatural forces to gain power right under Frank’s already malfunctioning mentality. In the light, Frank and Iris are polar opposites, but they break bread together in the dark, feasting off each other’s malice. “The Beyond’s” Cinzia Monreale dons a dual performance as the corpse of Frank’s fiance and of her living sister. Monreale’s amazing performance in being such a still carcass struck a recall chord in me thinking of Olwen Kelly’s eerie portrayal of a slab table stiff in “The Autopsy of Jane Doe.”

Speaking of autopsies, when Frank begins his taxidermal procedures, surgically slicing down Cinzia Monreale’s freshly demised midsection, the attention to detail rapes the spine with chilling ferocity and though dated within the confines of the practical special effects from nearly forty-years ago, D’Amato’s controversial and unquenchable need for violence doesn’t hold back the gore, the guts, and the glory of chopping a British slag into pieces with a butcher’s knife and tossing her overweight remains into a cast iron tub-cauldron of skin-eating acidity only to have her partial face float up to the surface in a display of how far these vile characters are willing to entertain their pure evil. “Beyond the Darkness” lives up the title with the barbaric nature of the characters who clamp down their teeth and rip out the flesh of their, burn alive joggers in an industrial grade furnace, and store corpses like valuable baseball cards of your favorite major league players. Yes, “Beyond the Darkness’s” gold is worth it’s cinematic weight in gore.

Severin’s 2-disc Blu-ray and CD Soundtrack release of Joe D’Amato’s “Beyond the Darkness” is presented in HD 1080p 1.67:1 aspect ratio. The image quality is strong, unmolested, and rich with a vibrant color palette that gets ickier with every organ removed, every body part dismembered, and every shocking event unraveled. A dubbed English DTS-HD master and an Italian Dolby Digital dual channel mix are quite good, spanning out a brazen fidelity of leveled ranges and the Goblin soundtrack enriches every scene with gothic notes of progressive rock. Check out the CD Soundtrack “Buio Omega” (“Beyond the Darkness”): The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to get an isolated experience of one of horror’s most fascinating scoring groups known worldwide. Bonus material is aplenty with a retrospect interview on the late Joe D’Amato entitled “The Horro Experience,” an interview with Actress Franca Stoppi entitled “The Omega Woman,” an interview with Cinzia Monreale entitled “Sick Love,” a live performance of “Buio Omega by Goblin, a visit to set locations, and the theatrical trailer. Severin completes a snazzy package and includes an plethora of auxiliary material for this ultra-violent video nasty that’s delivers the uncut and uncensored blood and nudity in a twisted 94 minutes of “Beyond the Darkness.”

“Beyond the Darkness” + Goblin on Blu-ray!

Visions of Evil From a Disturbed Mind. “Lung” review!


An unidentified man, wearing medical scrubs and gloves, wanders through town, encountering hellishly gruesome scenes of death.  He wanders barefoot through a  ghastly journey that might figuratively expresses his back story of how he came to witness such visions and be relatively undisturbed by the horror they represent.  The filthy, gory, and ill-fated moments might also be hallucinations brought upon by a traumatic occurrence that wrenches him out of reality and into grisly purgatory.  Either way, the nameless man is a lost soul with no ambition, no emotion, and no direction to guide him through an inner conflict of blood-soaked entombment.

Unearthed Films’ 2-disc collector’s edition of “Lung I” and “Lung II” continues with the distribution company’s legacy of delivering the best underground cinema to the forefront of home entertainment.  Phil Stevens, director of positive-reviewed “Flowers,” writes, stars, and directs both feature films about the wandering man in a foggy, distorted haze, but “Lung II” is not a sequel to “Lung I.”  Instead, “Lung I” is the softcore version of events whereas “Lung II” is a hardcore redux – think along the lines of “The Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead II” – that’s much more detached from rationality and by collaborating with “American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock’s” Marcus Koch seizing upon the special effects, you can damn well count on “Lung II,” and certainly “Lung I” as well, being bare-faced dark, violent, and twisted. In more a sequential reality, “Lung” is part of the Phil Stevens’ proposed trilogy entitled the Violence of Dawn with “Flowers” leading the horrific charge. This review will focus more on “Lung II.”

Stevens stars as the unnamed lead, waking up lost under a creek bridge, dressed in medical scrubs, and haunted by unspeakable, bloody post-violence mayhem while continuously battling his evil doppelgänger self. Is this just a strange nightmare or a telltale sign of this man’s troubled past? Then, again, Stevens’ impassive take feels more like wandering through one hell of a dream, an endless journey into one’s post-traumatic warped mind rather than spelunking into one of a murderous soul’s, even if one of the moments of trauma could be his wife – or girlfriend – cheating on him and he catches her in the act with ill-fated consequences. Characters also related to the medical profession, such as a psychologist (David Copping) and quick flashes of a nurse (Angela Jane), are a part of this visceral vision quest. Finally, we come to The Exile character. The Exile might sound familiar if you’ve read my review on “Flowers” as he’s the only character, portrayed once again by Bryan W. Lohr Sr., that connects the two films. The Exile continues to mystify us about his presence, an extremely large and intimating brute with a deathly blank stare and a “don’t fuck with me” attitude.

Unlike “Flowers,” Stevens went the devoid of color route, constructing a black and white feature that, like “Flowers, goes without as much as a sentence of dialogue. Actions, expressions, and every sense of the word “art” tell the story. Non-linear editing and brutally realistic scenes of savagery in the confines of special effects exercise and sparks your brain’s neurons to try spitfire pieces together to cement a coherent narrative. Stevens is almost able to re-tap into and revitalize the silent film genre with “Flowers” and “Lung”, and with the help of a vehement brooding score by Mark Kueffner, I believe this type of experimental horror story telling can fascinate just about anyone without a weak stomach.

Unearthed Films and MVDVisual’s 2-disc DVD collector’s set a beautifully monochrome piece of art with roached infested severed heads, a halfway decomposed homeless man, and a pile of refrigerated sexual organs meshed together like something out of Brian Yuzna’s “Society,” but more gnarly. Im interested to see how Paradis, aka Paradis III, comes to conclude the trilogy and see how Unearthed FIlms releases Phil Stevens’ visionary tales. The Borderline Cinema and Extreme Horror Cinema “Lung” is comprised of two discs that entail “Lung I” Feature Film, “Lung II” Feature Film, Directors Commentary, Editors Commentary, Isolated Sound FX Track, Making of Lung 2 (which is very informative and fun to watch underground cinema come to the fold), Mark Kueffner: Lung Composer Featurette, Martin Trafford: Artwork Featurette, “Cats” Short Film, “Descent” Short Film, and Unearthed Trailers. “Lung” will not tickle everybody’s taste; surely sick and part of a niche network of darkly persuaded and humored people will most likely get it, but there’s still very much to appreciate here from director Phil Stevens and his eye for detail and disturbia. This gore and shock is worth a look and worth a chance.

Buy LUNG at Amazon!

Evil Who Kills Together, Doesn’t Necessarily Stay Together. “Capture Kill Release” review!


Fun-loving couple, Jen and Farhang, seem like your average young twosome. Underneath the common surface, they plot a sinister murder of a random stranger. Toying with hardware store supplies and dissecting the knowledge of the human anatomy, Jen and Farhang are well prepped to tackle the abduction, the murder, and the disposal of a human being, but when Jen’s obsessive nature can’t hold back her desire to kill any longer, the couple’s relationship will be harshly tested when a hesitant Farhang is unexpectedly confronted with Jen’s opportunity to kill a kind-hearted dinner guest and decides to pull out from their ghastly thought out preparations that results turning a potential grim bonding experience to a deadly relationship fallout.

“Capture Kill Release” is the 2016 Canadian film from co-directors Nick McAnulty and Brian Altan Stewart. McAnulty also penned the script. The handheld POV thriller has a story that places Jen and Farhang’s union in a familiar, yet deceiving manner, coupling routine relationship quibbles and desires with an unorthodox principles shared amongst them. While acting upon their romantic affair in the archetypes that include one-sided back rubs, jointly frustrating shopping adventures, and an infinite amount of trivial bickering, the dynamic between them feels no different from ours with their interaction with each other in their isolated internal pact being very relatable for audiences with partners or had the experiences with former partners. Enormous, thick tension sets the foundation for “Capture Kill Release” that continuously mounds an already pressurized and emotionally compromised partnership, strained to the brink of chaos that’s hard to dig out from under.

McAnulty and Stewart cast unknown Jennifer Fraser as Jen, much of the cast keep their namesakes with their respective characters, and Fraser, placing aside her remarkable beauty, inarguably locks in Jen’s sociopathic charm. Jen’s manic personality, jumping from conversation piece to conversation piece without smooth transitions and unable to focus without the determination to kill on the mind, contrasts sharply with the more reserved and constant Farhang, a role awarded to Farhang Ghajar who has worked on the directors’ prior film, “Uncle Brian.” Farhang’s conservativeness bares an ugly unconfident image that Jen wholeheartedly exploits, nearly forcing Farhang to go along, or play along, with Jen’s disturbed fantasy. Farhang Ghajar simply plants his character in a shot without much a change between appearance or delivery whereas Fraser frequents and embraces more everyday changes, including even minor ones like her hairstyles that seem to change every scene. Polar opposites, homeless guy Gary and ‘Rich guy’ jerk, round out the significant characters with actors Jon Gates and upcoming “Exorcism of the Dead” star, Rich Piatkowski.

In retrospect, “Capture Kill Release” feels rather depressing. The angst that’s imploding from within the Jen and Farhang bubble touches upon the everyday relationship attributes where couples fight or couples unite in not so extreme measures. Jen shows no empathy or sympathy for anybody with the exception of Farhang, a grappling, fleeting emotion to cling on someone who loves you for you. To further the depression, the recent hike in POV films beats into us the obsession with vanity. The camera, no matter the capacity, is a vain concept and McAnulty and Steward’s thriller spares no expense of arrogance when Jen can’t put down the camera, no matter how much Farhang pleads and persuades her, but If I were an amateur plotter toward killing an absolute stranger, I wouldn’t be a complete novice and record my handy work. This is where McAnulty builds in an unspoken caveat that Jen has a passion for filmmaking, dreaming big of directing, one day, her own feature, a notion that’s explored more during her rooting of her mother’s stored VHS collection from Jen’s childhood. The filmmaking approach to Jen’s obsession loosely bounds the implement of the handheld and feels forced like a last minute decision, especially when genuine home videos of Jennifer Fraser are cut into the story that’s out of place.

Midnight Releasing has released “Capture Release Kill” as a high definition online streaming video feature. I was supplied with a screener and can’t comment on quality or bonus features, but the co-directed film is available on these formats: iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu, XBox, FlixFling and more. Even with the brief moments in gore, the blood runs extra thick with sickeningly realistic and shocking scenes of butchery. Gory found footage, such as “The House with 100 Eyes” or the more viscerally vigorous “The Butcher,” have been gaining momentum in their popularity with the handheld camera bringing a little authenticity to grisly murders that are on the other side of the spectrum of being a very anti-Hollywood concept that less sensationalized, but devilishly effective, on a budget. Throw in a handful of motivated and talented actors, such as Jennifer Fraser and Farhang Ghajar, in this semi-exploitation gore-thriller and you can strike gold with “Capture Kill Release” that’ll please even the harshest of found footage or handheld camera critics.

Evil Is Only Skin Deep. “The Wax Mask” review!


Set in Rome of 1912, a newly constructed wax museum, under a mysterious alchemy artist known as Boris Volkoff, stirs controversy with the showcasing of the world’s most grisly and notorious murder scenes. Two brothel customers’ debate result in the one challenging the other to spend the night at the curated museum of horror without having an ounce of fleeting fear. The next morning, the man has been found, apparently keeling over in fright, and the police are baffled, but something more sinister is afoot when Sonia, a young costume designer with a horrific past as the sole witness in the gruesome death of her mother and father in Paris 1900, becomes employed at the museum to costume the wax figures and faints when the scene of her parents’ brutal death is recreated as the museum’s new showpiece. Sonia and a reporter closely examine the museum when more people begin disappearing off the street, people who have ties with the beautiful costume designer, and learn the waxed creations are much more underneath their plastic-lifelike skin.

Before his untimely death, the Godfather of (Italian) Gore, Lucio Fulci, had been cooperating on a semi-quasi remake of Vincent Price’s 1953 thriller “House of Wax,” based on the Gaston Leroux’s novel, alongside fellow iconic Italian horror director Dario Argento (“Suspiria”) in a comeback collaboration for Fulci, but the entitled “The Wax Mask” film was evidently delayed partly in because of Fulci’s death. “The Wax Mask” was handed over by Argento, who was producing, to special effects guru Sergio Stivaletti (“Cemetery Man,” “The Church”) and months after Fulci’s death, a finished product shared very similar traits to the Godfather of Gore’s style craftily blended with more modern approaches to filmmaking was released to the public. Though tailored more toward the interests of gory special effects, Stivaletti’s 1997 film is dedicated to Fulci with the implementation of many of the director’s popular trademarks, including closeups on various eye expressions and zoom-ins on gore and the weapons before their fateful strikes, while also basking in strong bright colors in the midst of shadowy cinematography that’s typical of the giallo genre.

In such a crimson world, an elegant performance by Romina Mondello, who stars as the orphaned Sonia, has the Rome born actress bring beauty, innocence, and charm to the macabre that harbors contrasting arguments against undermining marred antagonists and she provides a breath of aesthetic liveliness amongst a narrative that surrounds itself in capturing beauty in inanimate wax figures. “Cemetery Without Crosses'” Robert Hossein embraces the enigmatic museum curator, Boris Volkoff, with struggling internal black aspirations that involve his recently acquired employee, Sonia, and Houssein is able to turn off and on that switch of longing and menacing, playing the hand of the character superbly to keep audiences guessing his true intent. Volkoff’s faithful assistant and exhibit creator, Alex, embodies creepy and morbid attributes wonderfully contributed by a relatively unknown Umberto Balli. The trifecta cast sells the ghastly science fiction that slowly builds toward the transformation of “The Wax Mask” from classic giallo to sensational mad science Gothicism with a boost of euro trashiness that’s more relative to the work of Jesús Franco or Joe D’Amato. Riccardo Serventi Longhi (“Symphony in Blood Red”), Valery Valmond, Gabriella Giorgelli (“The Grim Reaper”), and Gianni Franco (Dario Argento’s “The Phantom of the Opera”) round out the cast.

Stivaletti’s toolbox of special effects celebrate in the practicality that escalates when the cloaked killer’s metal claw literally rips terror through the hearts and souls of characters, but the glossy composite imagery thwarts realism and cheapens the already cheesy Euro horror with a laughable fire set ablaze and a slew of lampoon electricity while half naked women are strapped to a barbaric mechanized chair. The cut-rate composite won’t ruin a guilty pleasure viewing and won’t blast apart an arguably respectable adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel, but the script, co-written between Argento, Fulci, and “The House of Clocks'” penning collaborator Daniele Stroppa, does pull from other, interestingly enough, inspirations that one wouldn’t think would be genre compatible. The action-packed finale of James Cameron’s 1984 pre-apocalyptic, time-traveling cyborg blockbuster, “The Terminator,” makes an unexpected appearance with an endoskeleton villain donning some familiar and memorable moments from one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time.

“The Wax Mask” greatly resembles Italian horror cinema from the 1970s and 1980s spawned in the late 90s, a superb feat for a director more aligned in vocational special effects, but the jaded historical background accompanying the film places a stain on whether Lucio Fulci had much to do with the project at all. Much is speculated that Argento and Stroppa re-wrote Fulci’s original script after his death, removing much of Fulci’s atmospheric flair and adding more gore, but in the end, “The Wax Mask” instabilities are overshadowed by great practical effects, an engaging storyline, and a roster of flavorful characters. The One 7 Movies and CAV Distributing Blu-ray release is presented in 1080p. The widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio is the not the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, but doesn’t constrain the image. The MPEG-4 AVC codec emits a bit of shakiness under the compression, suggesting a lower bitrate, but the One 7 Movies’ release is the best, sharpest looking transfer of the original source material with natural coloring on skin tones, vibrant shades of various colors, and shadows being exquisitely black. Four audio options are available from the English and Italian Surround 5.1 tracks to the English and Italian Stereo tracks with no accessible English or Italian subtitles in the static setup menu. Extras are slim with a handheld camera behind-the-scenes that’s solely in Italian. “The Wax MasK” is an ambitious Gothic hybrid horror that cements the memory of Lucio Fulci, pleases the gore of Dario Argento, and showcases the talents of debut director Sergio Stivaletti.

Purchasing One 7 Movies’ “The Wax Mask” at Amazon!

March 2017 Cult Epics Gets “Mondo Weirdo” and “Vampiros Sexos” on Blu-ray/DVD!

MONDO WEIRDO / VAMPIROS SEXOS Premieres on BLU-RAY/DVD March 14, 2017

Los Angeles, CA (March 6, 2017.) Cult Epics presents Carl Andersen’s films, the European answer to the Cinema of Transgression of Richard Kern and Nick Zedd, except more extreme, eccentric, surreal and erotic.

“The Hard-core version of Eraserhead” –Jan Doense (Weekend of Terror)
MONDO WEIRDO: A TRIP TO PARANOIA PARADISE aka JUNGFRAU IM ABGRUND wallows in smut, sleaze, gore, splatter, and dark comedy and is set in an underground world where both vampires and punk rockers engage in hardcore sex to the highly addictive and hypnotic electro music of Model D’oo. Dedicated to Jean Luc-Godard and Jess Franco featuring his daughter Jessica Franco-Manera. Shot on 16mm stock, presented in a new High-definition transfer on Blu-ray.

“Vampire Porno”
VAMPIROS SEXOS aka I WAS A TEENAGE ZABBADOING… is Carl Andersen’s debut film and is one of the weirdest movies ever, and it will certainly shock your mind. VAMPIROS SEXOS is the ultimate European underground punk rock sex vampire film. Stylish and trashy at the same time in the best sort of way, the film also features an endlessly entrancing no-wave score by Model D’oo. Cult Epics presents the rare only existing Uncut SD version on DVD together with: WHAT’S SO DIRTY ABOUT IT? Bonus short film. Cut-up trance noise nihilistic short film, reminiscent of the work of Throbbing Gristle and Kenneth Anger. SD

3 Disc Limited (numbered) Edition of 2000 copies includes Exclusive CD soundtrack by Model D’oo.

MONDO WEIRDO/VAMPIROS SEXOS Blu-ray/DVD/CD Combo
Price: $39.95
Street Date: March, 2016
Production Year: 1988/1990/1990
Film run time: Approx. 68/57/9
Language: English & German language with English subtitles
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Label: Cult Epics
Distributor: CAV
Blu-ray/DVD/CD Cat.no. CE-149
BD UPC: 881190014998
Rating: Not Rated

SPECIAL FEATURES
New High-definition Transfer (from original 16mm print)
Introduction by Erwin Leder (star of Angst)
The Making of Mondo Weirdo (2016)
The Making of I was a Teenage Zabbadoing aka Vampiros Sexos (2016)
Bonus film: What’s So Dirty About It? (1990)