Sunday, August 22, 2010

BUIO OMEGA aka Beyond The Darkness

(Joe D'Amato, 1979)
This is an Italian horror classic, hands down. It gained a bit of infamy after rumors circulated that actual human corpses were used in the effects sequences, which can either attest to their realism or to the stupidity of the general public. In this case it's a bit of both, as the effects are quite gruesome and eerily realistic for such a low-budget production. Anyone who'd seen the film on gritty old VHS could have easily been fooled. Also, actress Cinzia Monreale's portrayal of the dead Anna is quite convincing. Gory bits aside, Buio Omega stands apart from the rest as it's one of the few (but not only) necrophiliac love stories to come out of Italy between '79 and '81.
Francesco (Kieran Canter) is a taxidermist who has just lost his girlfriend Anna to a mysterious illness brought on by black magic. Rather than allow her to rot, he digs her up and does to her what taxidermists do best: gut, flush, and stuff! His actions don't go unnoticed, however, as the funeral director espies him injecting Anna's corpse with preservative and takes up his own investigation. Francesco's demented housekeeper/lover Iris (Franca Stoppi) plays along as she intends to marry him, and helps dispose of the corpses that begin to pile up as more noses come sniffing.
How Joe D'Amato manages to make such a simple story last for 90 minutes is a skill in itself. The majority of Buio Omega, like his other films Anthropophagus and Absurd, is spent stretching out every death scene to maximize the viewers' disgust. In the case of Buio Omega, the gory bits don't detract from the story and don't seem inserted merely to extend the running time. Joe's experience behind the camera is evident in many of the shots and gives a slight sheen to what might otherwise have been dull, exploitative tripe. The shadowy sequence at the end, as in Anthropohagus, seems to have come from some other film as it is heavy on the atmosphere and dread (and gore, naturally!)
On a final note, my favorite aspect of Buio Omega is the electronic score by the legendary Goblin. One may recognize the track "Quiet Drops" from Luigi Cozzi's Contamination AND the track "Strive After Dark" from a re-cut of the original Dawn of the Dead. Buio Omega has an engrossing story, nasty violence, necrophilia, curiously arty camerawork, and a menacing Goblin score. If you aren't already shopping for it, get to it. Buy it here.

1 comment:

  1. Truly one of the gems of Italian cult cinema. I will never forget when I rented the old Thriller Video VHS. What a treat my twelve-year-old mind was in for! The Goblin score is a highlight. "Quiet Drops" is my favorite Goblin tune. The beautiful piano sounds to gory distopia...This is why I love and collect Italian films to this day.