Beyond Evil

April 3, 2012 at 3:31 am (6 Heads, Beyond Evil) (, , , , , , )

Beyond Evil – 1980 – United States

Beyond Evil stars hard-working John Saxon, whose near 200 acting credits are almost all genre flicks. God bless him. Director Herb Freed is just a footnote, but he worked on obscura such as Haunts (1977), Graduation Day (1981), and Survival Game (1987).

Beyond Evil is set on an unidentifiable Pacific island, which is probably supposed to be the Philippines. Some newlyweds, plus the wife’s ex-husband, form an awkward friendship triangle. Especially as the wife’s bitching and endearing vulnerability creates tension for the easygoing dudes. This is further complicated when the newlyweds move to an ancient villa haunted by a diabolical witch’s ghost. The wife gets possessed and brutal “accidents” bolster the body count. Eventually, the husband and a faith healer battle the witch in a noisy supernatural showdown. People are thrown around and furniture is busted.

Beyond Evil’s script includes surprising dramatic depth. Even the witch has a sympathetic backstory detailing her revenge against an abusive lover. Likewise, the three main characters’ varied and uneasy relationship isn’t neatly resolved. Beyond Evil’s tragic elements are refreshing in supernatural horror of this sort. Decent acting helps too.

While it was actually shot in California, Beyond Evil’s apparent island locale enhances its production value. Opening credits roll atop two devils in clownish face paint engaging in a ritualistic dancing fight with flaming torches. Shortly after, in a native wedding ceremony, bride and groom perform a stick-hopping rite akin to jump rope. Later, a nightclub dancer balances fireballs on his feet. However, the most colorful bit involves a faith healer hypnotizing a patient as he performs intestinal surgery on them. But the island has more than jungle villages. Urban locales add modern realness to the setting.

Only Beyond Evil’s hokey effects reveal its tight budget. Apparitions manifest as glowing neon optical tricks and toy-like demonic statues struggle to seem horrific. Plus, the witch’s laser-zapping eyes are pretty dumb. At least the music is remarkable, mixing clattering percussion with ominous chanting to memorable result.

Beyond Evil is from Troma’s distribution catalog. Considering that, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised that it’s an engrossing chiller with strong drama and mood. Damn shame about its bland title. Beyond Evil is a flick that might benefit from Troma’s habit of ludicrous renaming.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. If nothing else, watch it to see the villa’s eerie spiral staircase.

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