Claudio Fragasso has achieved a new promi­nence amongst bad movie buffs in recent years thanks to his mem­o­rable appear­ance in the doc­u­men­tary Best Worst Movie. That film dealt with the cult that has risen up around the eccen­tric Italian trash clas­sic Troll II, which was direct­ed in a fever­ish yet inco­her­ent man­ner by Fragasso. One of his actors in that film was Michael Stephenson, who grew up to direct Best Worst Movie. They also worked togeth­er between those two films on anoth­er shot-in-the-U.S. hor­ror opus, Beyond Darkness. BeyDark-posIt’s not as unfor­get­tably weird as Troll II but it shares a lot of the eccen­tric DNA that made up that bizarro-world clas­sic.

Beyond Darkness begins with a man of the cloth, Father Peter (Gene Le Brock), mov­ing his wife and two kids into a nice home in a new parish. The moment they’re set­tled in, a vari­ety of spooky things start hap­pen­ing. He soon real­izes the house wants to con­sume the souls of all in it — and the only per­son who can help him is George (David Brandon), an old sem­i­nary class­mate who has aban­doned his faith for alco­holism.

Beyond Darkness is a typ­i­cal shot-in-America Italian hor­ror pro­duc­tion effort from this era: an array of American ama­teur actors, a plot that cribs heav­i­ly from American hits like Poltergeist and The Amityville Horror and loca­tion shoot­ing in an afford­able U.S. loca­tion — in this case: Louisiana (they use the same house from The Beyond!). It also has a bizarre sen­si­bil­i­ty about what is scary: at one point, the fam­i­ly is men­aced by an out-of-con­trol vin­tage radio.

Meta-BeyD-bluFragasso throws him­self into the task with ener­gy, cre­at­ing a film that grad­u­al­ly trans­forms into a series of Fulci-inspired “real or not” set­pieces where the house bedev­ils its inhab­i­tants and tries to pull them into the spir­it world. The results are nev­er real­ly con­vinc­ing or scary but boy, do they go over the top in try­ing to achieve scares. The mix­ture of dead seri­ous inten­tions and club­foot­ed act­ing is amus­ing but it’s nev­er as mem­o­rably weird as Troll II — and its bom­bas­tic nature is like­ly to wear the view­er out unless they are a true Italo-trash addict.

Thus, Beyond Darkness is best left to the fans of this sort of late-in-the-game Italian gen­re weird­ness — but those in that select group will get their money’s worth of bar­gain base­ment sur­re­al hor­ror here.

Blu-Ray Notes: Scream Factory recent­ly released this title as part of a two-for-one blu-ray alongside Metamorphosis. The trans­fer is stronger on col­or than it is on detail but the results are a slight improve­ment on the SD ver­sions. The 2.0 DTS sound­track can sound a lit­tle harsh, with notice­able sibi­lance, but the dia­logue, effects and music are clear through­out. The one extra is a trail­er.