Italian Horror Showcase: Beyond Darkness (dir by Claudio Fragasso)

In 1981, The Evil Dead was released in Italy as La Casa.

In 1987, Evil Dead II was released in Italy as La Casa 2.

In 1988, La Casa 3 was released in Italy and retitled Ghosthouse for distribution in America and the UK.

That same year, La Casa 4 was also released in Italy and it was called Witchery in America.

And then, finally, 1990 saw the release of La Casa 5.

Directed by Claudio Fragasso (who, outside of Italy, is probably best known for directing Troll 2), La Casa 5 was also known as Beyond Darkness* and it was the third “unofficial” Italian sequel to Evil Dead.  Like both Ghosthouse and Witchery, it actually has nothing to do with any of the Evil Dead films.  Instead, it plays out more like a weird mix of Poltergeist and The Exorcist.

Let’s say that you’re an aging clergyman and you’re living in a house that appears to be haunted by the ghosts of several dead witches.  Despite your own faith, you haven’t been able to exorcise their evil spirits.  What should you do!?  When Rev. Jonathan (Steven Brown) finds himself in that situation, his solution is to sell the house to one of his former students, Rev. Peter (Gene LeBrock).  Jonathan figures that Peter’s faith is so strong that he’ll be able to exorcise the house in no time!  Of course, Jonathan doesn’t actually bother to tell Peter that the house is possessed by evil.  Instead, Jonathan just lets Peter and his family discover that on their own.

And discover that they do, as the house quickly reveals itself to be haunted.  Meat cleavers fly across rooms.  Radios make strange noises.  Dishes are shattered.  A strange group of black-shrouded women are spotted hanging around upstairs.  It might have something to do with the big black swan statute that’s sitting in the kid’s room.  Or maybe it has something to do with the strange light that’s streaming out of one of the closets.  Eventually, Peter’s son gets sucked into the netherworld and, when he returns, he’s not only possessed but he keeps trying to kidnap Peter’s daughter as well!

Despite being told to avoid him, Rev. Peter is eventually forced to turn to another of Rev. Jonathan’s students, Father George (David Brandon).  Ever since he was forced to spend time with a serial killer who ate children, George has been struggling with his faith.  Will George be strong enough to help Peter exorcise the demon that has possessed his son?

(Incidentally, Peter’s son is played by Micheal Stephenson, who also starred in Troll 2 and who more recently directed the documentary about that film, Best Worst Movie.)

Watch and find out what happens!  Or don’t.  Actually,if you’ve seen The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist, or Poltergeist, you’ll be able to guess everything that happens in this film.  Even the final twist has been borrowed from countless other horror films.  The presence of Claudio Fragasso in the director’s chair might tempt some to watch this in the expectation that it’ll be another “WTF!?” romp like Troll 2 but Beyond Darkness is actually pretty dull.

Beyond Darkness was the last Italian entry in the La Casa franchise but it was not the last La Casa film.  When the American horror film House II was released in Italy, it was retitled La Casa 6.  This was followed by La Casa 7, which was actually an American slasher film called The Horror Show.

And with that, the La Casa series finally ended.

* While we’re on the topic of titles, Beyond Darkness should not be confused with 1979’s brilliant Buio Omega, which was released in English-speaking territories as Beyond The Darkness and which was directed, under the pseudonym Joe D’Amato, by Aristide Massaccesi.

One response to “Italian Horror Showcase: Beyond Darkness (dir by Claudio Fragasso)

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week in Review: 10/15/18 — 10/21/18 | Through the Shattered Lens

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