Dec 20

Beyond the Darkness: Cult, Horror, and Extreme Cinema


Author: Phil Russell
Media: Book
Year: 2012


From the back of the book:

Beyond The Darkness is a guide to some of the most shocking, disturbing, and controversial films ever made. Along with plot synopsis, analysis, and background on the directors and actors, there are also details on censorship and the controversy sparked. 

The book also includes chapters on Spanish Horror under the Franco regime, the CAT III phenomenon, Mondo movies and shockumentaries, and an interview with legendary underground filmmaker Nick Zedd. 

Everything from big budget mainstream films to arthouse oddities and obscurities and underground flicks are covered. In this book you’re just as likely to read about despised filmmakers such as Andrey Iskanov, Fred Vogel, and Uwe Boll as you are such vital artists as Abel Ferrara, David Cronenberg, and Lars Von Trier. 

With more than 160 films covered it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the darkside of cinema.

This is the first book by Phil Russell and it covers a wide variety of films that all have one thing in common, they shock and/or disgust people. It is straight forward and goes directly from the intro to the reviews from A to W. The book also has an interview with underground director Nick Zedd, a chapter on spanish horror, the state of movie censorship of today, quick rundown on the current status of the Video Nasties and a short interview with the author that was first published on www.make-your-offer.com.

The reviews differ in lengths after how much Russell has to say about the film, some even go on for several pages. What’s great about this book is that it doesn’t attempt to be the ultimate list of the most shocking films ever made. Instead he tries to cover a lot of movies that even die hard horror fans aren’t familiar with, so there is no Cannibal Holocaust or Ebola Syndrome to be found here. And there is really no need for him to include those anyways. He goes from underground American movies to Category III movies from Hong Kong. He seems to have some good knowledge of the Hong Kong films and I particularly enjoyed reading what he had to say about those.

I haven’t dived into the world of the CAT3 movies as much as I should have. I enjoy the known ones such as The Untold Story and Ebola Syndrome, but I haven’t had the courage to check out stuff that isn’t well known since the slapstick humour is a put-off for me. So I was very happy to read about several other category III movies that I might enjoy and I will definitely give stuff such as Red to Kill a chance in the near future.

The book could have used a run-through with a spellchecker and also could have skipped a few movies from his favorite directors such as Abel Ferrara and David Cronenberg. I also wish it had an index so it would be easier to see if the book covers the movie you are currently thinking about seeing or doing research about in the future. But all in all it is a great book that is well worth the money and I can happily recommend it.


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