Monday, September 19, 2016

Beyond Darkness (1990) - Part 2 of 3

Claudio Fragasso's Beyond Darkness (read Part 1 here) has taken us on a rollercoaster ride of supernatural excitement. (Beyond Darkness is available on Shout Factory Blu-Ray and streaming on Shudder.) At this point in the story, Reverend Peter, his wife Annie, and their children Carole and Martin have moved into their new home and they have been immediately beset by all manner of deadly supernatural goings-on. Now, as the veiled zombie witches invade their home, Peter takes up a crucifix and a bible to combat them. 

Peter attempts to put a stop the supernatural onslaught of veiled zombie witches by grabbing a crucifix and reading a passage from his bible: “Mighty God, may evil spirits no longer have power over your humble servant. May you leave and never return. Let the good will and peace of our lord Jesus Christ enter this home at his command.” This familiar biblical incantation works. The witches disappear and the house returns to normal.

The next day, Peter confronts his boss, Reverend Jonathan, at his church. The older minister asks about the manifestations. Peter is slightly perturbed that his boss knowingly moved Peter's family into a house full of Satanic dangers. However, Peter argues that it is impossible the house is possessed--he doesn't believe in such things. Reverend Jonathan explains that he chose Peter to exorcise this house after the priest from the prologue, George, failed to do so. Peter and George had gone to seminary together, but now George has fallen prey to his own demons. Peter's boss gives him a book of exorcisms. Peter says he has a lot to think about.

(An aside: In your Universe-X, as I understand the process, the clergy are called to a particular faith and then attend seminary to further study to become clergymen in their denomination. In my Universe-Prime they choose their denomination after seminary, as in this film, where George and Peter studied together but George chose Catholicism and Peter chose a Protestant denomination. I will add this tidbit of information to my case study of cross-universe differences, along with the darkness of nighttime and your word for convoluted Italian thrillers.)

Clearly a house full of demons that Peter does not believe in is of roughly the same importance as the safety of his family. As he walks home pondering what to do, Peter is confronted by George, who says he needs Peter's help in his final battle against the demons.

Peter brushes George off, so George returns to the church to confront Reverend Jonathan, and also to play the church organ for reasons not disclosed to the audience. Here George reveals that Ameth is inside him. "I don't know if he's my friend or my enemy, but he's a jealous companion." George asks the reverend to exorcise him but the reverend refuses, so George just walks away.

Peter returns home. It is already dark. He finds his house ransacked. The black swan is rocking by itself. A shadowy figure holds an axe, then attacks Peter with it--but it turns out to be Annie. She and the children have fought off the evil witches. "We're pretty tough guys," Martin says. Indeed they are.

Peter has reached his limit regarding attempted murders in his home. He plans to drive away from the house, but when everyone attempts to leave the house, they are surrounded by the zombie witches.

While Peter and Annie try to break through the sealed back door, Carole and Martin head upstairs, where Martin is abducted by the ghost of the murderess from the prologue. She grabs him and carries him through the brick wall.

If only Peter had remembered the "Mighty God" incantation from the bible that warded off the witches earlier!

After Carole tells Peter that Martin has disappeared through the wall, Annie searches through the house for her son. Suddenly Father George enters the house. "He's here," George says. "He's in the house. But they have him. Witches." The house, it seems, is cursed, and a gateway to hell. In fact, the brick wall is a gateway to another dimension.

(Another aside: As someone with some familiarity with gateways to other dimensions, I believe George's understanding, though a bit primitive, is quite correct. The wall with a spotlight behind it is one manifestation of an interdimensional gateway.)

Despite the fact that Martin has been taken through the wall to a dimension that might be hell, everyone continues searching for the boy throughout the house. This apparently pointless strategy pays dividends when Annie hears Martin calling from behind a mirror, and then the boy's image conveniently appears in the mirror, though he is quickly threatened by the veiled zombie witches.

Annie dives at the mirror and disappears inside.


In the other dimension, Annie watches as Martin reenacts the end of the film Phantasm.

Meanwhile, the brick wall melts so that Peter, hoping to find Martin, can step through into the other dimension, a dimension which appears to be confined to a foggy barn. Peter finds Martin and Annie, and the three escape easily back through the brick wall. 

The family and George race outside, but when they reach their car and put Martin in the back seat, they look back at the house and see Martin staring at them from inside the house, at a second story window.

But who is in the back seat of the car?

The film has no answer for us.

The next morning, everyone is back inside the house. George explains the terrifying story. Ten women were burned at the stake as witches here. Of course, some of them actually were witches, but the rest were burned for no reason. It is all explained in the witches' bible, the one that the murderess gave George before her execution. 

Why was Peter chosen to be their exorcist? Because his faith is pure. George takes this moment to summarize the plot: "They want to put us to the test. Their dark powers against the two of us--a faithless ex-priest and a family man who happens also to be a reverend."

We also learn that what we believe to be Martin is really just a shell of the true boy. When Annie and Carole are asleep, Martin's shell, showing remarkable strength, picks up his sister and carries her upstairs.

Once in front of the open gateway to the other dimension, Martin puts Carole down and says they will be together forever. He intends to walk with her through the gateway, where they will be lost forever to their parents and our world.

Will Martin and Carole be lost in the hell dimension forever? The answer is no [spoiler]. But how will they be rescued? Will the family every escape the house? Find out in Part 3 of our discussion of Claudio Fragasso's Beyond Darkness. Read Part 3 here.