42nd Street Cinema

Buio Omega (1979)

Made right off the cuff of Images in a Convent/Immagini di un convento (1979) and after his success with the never-ending Emanuelle series, starring Laura Gemser. Buio Omega/In quella casa...buio omega/Beyond The Darkness is Joe D'Amato's first straightforward entry into the horror genre.

D'Amato would later continue this short-lived spate of horror films with: Antropophagus/Anthropophagous: The Beast (1980), it's quasi-sequel Absurd/Rosso sangue (1981) and all the while shooting back-to-back the porno-horror flicks, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead/Le notti erotiche dei morti viventi (1980) and Porno Holocaust/Holocausto porno (1981).

Buio Omega at heart, is a macabre love story and an exploration into human emotion. Fundamentally dealing with the loss of a loved one, but morbidly tailored to suit the sleazy output of Italian cinema during the late 1970s and who better to be at the helm than the man who is synonymous with Italian exploitation.

Starring Kieran Canter as the eccentric orphan and taxidermist Frank Wyler, who goes a bit potty after the untimely demise of his beautiful fiancée, Anna Völkl, played by Cinzia Monreale. As far as Frank knows, Anna died from an illness in hospital, whereas the truth is a little more extraordinary. She actually fell foul to Frank's insanely jealous housekeeper Iris (Stoppi), who offed poor Anna via a voodoo doll.

Stricken with the loss of his one true love, he digs up her body and preserves it in a desperate attempt for them to be together forever. Frank's mental state begins to deteriorate completely, becoming more and more homicidal, eventually killing anyone who intrudes on his business. With Iris' help in disposing of the bodies, in one particular stomach churning scene we see Iris dismembering the body of a young woman before dropping the numerous body parts into a bathtub full of sulphuric acid. Gore is certainly something that Buio Omega doesn't shy away from.

The relationship between Frank and Iris is worth dissecting, as there is definitely a love between the two characters. Iris, is obsessed with Frank in a reverse Oedipus complex kind of way and Frank sees Iris as the mother he never had. The two engage in various sex acts, in a way that Iris provides Frank with a physical pleasure and in return she derives a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

D'Amato's work is often criticized for being boring and unevenly paced. However, as a fan of his films, the latter adds an authentic overall ambience of most of his pictures. His ability as a director is also called into question, as with most of his output there is a lot of trash to sift through, films that were ideally thrown together on a whim in an attempt at making a quick buck. With Buio Omega, you're given a fine example of his true filmmaking talent. Also featuring a great score by Italian prog-rock band Goblin, credited here as The Goblins.
Buio Omega is a nightmarish ordeal of loss, necromancy and psychosis.


Malibu Express said...

I always felt that "Beyond the Darkness" tried to do a little too much with what it had - plot wise anyway - but it did have it's charms and was quite grisly. Franca Stoppi was seriously creepy too - and I don't just mean the voodoo thing.

Good take on the film. It seems to me it had a lot in common with "Death Smiles on a Murderer", but I really can't remember much of that one beyond the basic plot.

- Aaron

Dr. Preta said...

I'm stoked to watch this.

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