Item Description
Here's Beyond Darkness a.k.a. House 5 a.k.a. La Casa 5 directed by Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2, Monster Dog) in 1990. Father George (David Brandon, STAGEFRIGHT) visits inmate Bette (Mary Coulson) who is on Death Row for the murders of several children. She claims that she not only murdered them but that she also devoured their souls and will take them to Hell with her when she is executed. Father George believes that she is mentally ill but she senses his curiosity about the existence of the devil and gives him a bible before she is lead away (she pledges her allegiance to Ameth but what we see in the book is your typically goat-horned Satan). After Bette’s execution, Father George has a vision of the condemned children.
Years later, Father Peter (Gene Le Brock, METAMORPHOSIS), his wife Annie (Barbara Bingham, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN) and his children Martin (Michael Stephenson, star of TROLL 2 & director of BEST WORST MOVIE) and Carole (THERESA F. WALKER) move into the house from Lucio Fulci’s THE BEYOND and the Filmirage production KILLING BIRDS (what is it with films like this and SUPERSTITION where the town’s new priest and his family are housed in a mansion whose size might better serve to house homeless parishioners or something along those lines). The children’s’ room is dominated by a creepy black wooden “Rocking Swan” (Father Peter points out that not all black swans in legends and fairytales are evil) and a door hiding a brick wall that is apparently a portal to the beyond; the daughter describes the supernatural wind blowing out from it to her brother as a blow dryer). Their first night in the house, the lights go out, the swan rocks on its own, and a ridiculously ominous gust of wind rips Peter’s bible to shreds and also deposits an image of the demon in the cover. It is then revealed that Father George has now become a ranting drunk tormented by visions of Bette and the children. Meanwhile, yet another priest (Stephen Brown, METAMORPHOSIS) informs Father Peter that the house he arranged for he and his family was the sight of witch burnings centuries ago (thus, Satan decided it was the best place to put a portal to hell; though why he put it in an upstairs closet rather than in the basement is a question I’ll leave for anyone who gives this a second watch). Father Peter and his wife determine that the witches (who have started putting in appearances in the house’s doorways) are after their children. Father George eventually steps up to confirm this and to help them get the children back. A good Filmirage project in that it seems to take full advantage of its available resources despite the derivative and incoherent script by Fragasso and wife Rossella Drudi under the penname Sarah Asproon (she reportedly wrote the script for ZOMBI 3 although Fragasso was credited with that under his Clyde Anderson directorial pseudonym – Drudi was subsequently credited for her work on the Fragasso-directed AFTER DEATH). The story is mostly derivative of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR with a more fleshed-out backstory with Brandon stepping in towards the end as THE EXORCIST to help the parents recover their children snatched into the beyond POLTERGEIST-style minus the clown as it had already made an appearance in GHOSTHOUSE. The story really holds no surprises. There is no logical connection between Bette and the murdered children and the house haunted by burned witches other than to bring Father George in as the exorcist and run in with Bette again (I’m not even sure if the script even suggests that she might have been a reincarnated burned witch). David Brandon (actually David Haughton, a British actor who has worked mainly in Italian film – including Lamberto Bava’s DELIRIUM and Joe D’Amato’s CALIGULA 2 – up to Asia Argento’s SCARLET DIVA) approaches his role with perhaps more conviction than the film deserves (reportedly, the filmmakers used a long lens and hid the camera and had Brandon actually ranting to real people until they had to reveal they were filming when the cops showed up). Gene Le Brock and Barbara Bingham are both more than adequate (coming across as actors giving their thesp skills to a script they probably found incoherent). I’ve read that director Claudio Fragasso (AFTER DEATH) did not allow the actors on TROLL 2 to deviate from the dialogue in the script; perhaps he learned his lesson here as the actors mostly sound more naturalistic. TROLL 2 Filmirage alumni Michael Stephenson, however, is even worse here because most of the cast is better than decent. He’s good at pulling the appropriate cute child faces but his line readings are awful. On the other hand, Theresa F. Walker is decent. Mary Coulson as the executed witch overacts but its appropriate (the script has her refer to her appointment with the electric chair as her “final orgasm”). The Louisiana location photography is unatmospheric (it’s set in Boston but the climate is pretty tropical compared to the Boston of GHOSTHOUSE); even the Fulci house lacks menace (it looks too clean and not particularly decrepit). The film’s cinematography is credited to Larry J. Fraser who has photographed nothing else according to imdb and I’m wondering if this is another Joe D’Amato pseudonym (or possibly a pseudonym for son Daniele Massaccessi who was a camera operator on some of the Filmirage productions). The interiors are well lit throughout but the daytime exteriors are a bit hazy and contrasty as if they were shot on the quick. As usual, Filmirage in-house editor Kathleen Stratton’s cutting is functional without drawing attention to itself. Former EMANUELLE NERA Laura Gemser handles the costuming as “Laurette Gemser” as she did on TROLL 2 and METAMORPHOSIS (in which she also had a supporting role).

ships in a plain sleeve with no artwork