Color, 1980, 83 mins 38 secs.
Directed by Tomás Aznar
Starring Francisco Sánchez Grajera, Raquel Ramírez, Emilio Siegrist, Antonio Jabalera, Alexia Loreto
Cauldron Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9)
The history of Spanish horror films is littered with oddities that never quite attained the same cachet as the heavy hitters by Paul Naschy or the Blind Dead series. Among them is 1980's Beyond Terror, originally Más allá del terror, a particularly foul-mouthed and sleazy curio that will probably confound anyone expecting a straight-up Gothic shocker. You do get some supernatural, Templar Knights-worthy mayhem in the final stretch with some outrageous gore effects to boot, but it's really a film divided into three significant sections starting off as a mean-spirited crime film.
Lola (Ramírez) runs with a very nasty gang of biker thugs and gets her kicks by posing as a hooker, then puncturing her abusive conquest with a knife after luring them out in the woods and robbing them. Her cohorts include Chema (Grajera) and her traumatized brother, Nico (Siegrist), all of whom decide to get some extra drug money by robbing a diner. That plan goes south very quickly and sends them on the run with two hostages, Jorge (Jabalera) and Linda (Loreto), to hide out in the countryside. An ill-fated stay with an old woman and her grandson ends up with them getting a diabolical curse put on their heads, which would seem to come to pass with their next nocturnal stop when they're stranded at a ruined church. Before too long, inexplicable and grisly events from beyond the grave are conspiring to put their crime spree to an end for good.
Co-written by an uncredited Juan Piquer Simón (Pieces, Slugs), this film is nothing if not unpredictable as it shifts gears multiple times on its way to the (literally) explosive finale. Rarely seen apart from very bad gray market dupes of its 1980s VHS run in Europe, it's finally gotten the prestige treatment with a 2021 Blu-ray from Cauldron Films in its second pair of titles on the market, first out as a limited slipcase edition and then in a regular case. The packaging likens it to Rabid Dogs, though the outrageous level of antisocial behavior here and hefty amounts of nudity bring it a lot closer to Mad Foxes at times. (There truly isn't a remotely sympathetic human being in the whole film, a realization that makes it a lot more fun once you've caught it.) Even when the horror really kicks in during the final third, the film still finds a way to keep throwing scuzzy curve balls at you including a crazy bit of potential incest spurred on by a grim monologue. Newbies to Euro horror might not quite know what to make of this one, but if you like your witchcraft, Satanism, and zombies swirled up with a sexploitation biker movie, this is just the ticket.
Derived from a new 4K scan of the original negative, this is a great-looking disc that presumably offers an accurate representation of its intended look. (There isn't much precedent out there to go by!) The visuals are very earthy and veer to the gray and hazy side for the most part, which suits the subject matter perfectly well. The Spanish LPCM 2.0 mono audio (with optional English subtitles) is also in solid condition and sounds especially good when it features the great soundtrack, at least partially comprised of effective electronic library tracks. Speaking of which, you can enjoy the entirety of the scarce promotional LP during the image gallery (26m45s) of promotional art and stills, sounding great here in uncompressed LPCM stereo and featuring nine tracks. The film can also be played with a new audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, whose presence on numerous prior Spanish horror releases makes her a natural choice here as she chats about the state of late '70s and early '80s horror (with even icons like Naschy having to go abroad for projects), the tropes of juvenile delinquent cinema, Simón of course, the tradition of Spanish Gothic horror including the Blind Dead series, and plenty more.
Reviewed on June 16, 2021.