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Movie Review: Beyond Evil

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Beyond Evil was directed by Herb Freed (you might know him from Graduation Day) and stars John Saxon as Larry Andrews, a contractor of some sort who moves with his wife Barbara (Lynda Day George) into a new home in the Caribbean. His friend Del Giorgio (Michael Dante) and Del's friend Dr. Frank Albanos (Mario Milano) — who adds barely anything to the plot but serves as a tag-along to Del, and a suspicious yet unfulfilled character — obtained the place for them after the owners died, and it's a damn castle.

Of course, Barbara and Larry are taken with the place, even after the tale of the owners' deaths. It seems that the lady who had owned the house was in a loveless marriage with a cheating husband, and she practiced black magic as revenge on him. He ended up killing her, but not before she killed him too, and now the house is supposed to be haunted by the vengeful black witch. The hoodoo doesn't get to the newlyweds until Barbara is possessed by the evil spirit, and then it's up to Larry to save his wife before it's too late.

If it sounds like a familiar plotline, it is. It plays out exactly like anything from The Exorcist to The Amityville Horror. While not original, it is pretty entertaining. I love John Saxon — he's a great actor and seems like a pretty cool guy. But one thing that gets me in this movie are all the flaws.

For example, at one point it seems like Del Giorgio is out to get Larry and Barbara. For what reason? Well, it would make sense to assume that Del is trying to break it off between Larry and Barbara, since it is mentioned that Del had had a fling with Barb in the past. It almost plays out – Barb is possessed, and starts making out with Del, and the audience thinks that maybe, just maybe, this vengeful plot arc will play out, only to find that Barb kills Del before anything can actually happen and makes everything else a moot point. I just wonder if it was actually supposed to seem like Del was in cahoots with Dr. Frank Albanos, or if it was just something that I misinterpreted. Either way, I also found it weird that Frank was both a doctor and always at the construction site.

Which leads me to another question – what's up with the construction site? It's never really explained what's going on, and while it's not important, there are scenes at the work site where I was left wondering what exactly they were doing. The movie's not boring; the hauntings are semi-dramatic, and it was fun to see Saxon almost get killed by a falling wooden idol, but much of the movie is really loosely pulled together into a barely coherent plot. There's also a witch doctor that Saxon goes to to help exorcise the demon in Barbara, but to no avail — nothing happens. There are also only about five deaths in the whole movie, but they're spaced out enough so that one doesn't get bored too quickly.

Bluntly, though, the movie has too many wordy moments and not enough action. And whoever's idea it was that possessed bodies are cloaked in, and shoot, green mist was a little whacked. Barbara seriously looks spooky – that is, until she becomes Superman with green lasers firing from her eyes – then it just throws the suspense all down the drain.

I will use a playwriting vocabulary term here — deus ex machina. In Beyond Evil, Freed uses this to max effect. A little backstory to let you in on what happened here. Larry gets fed up with the wooden idol doll that he has upstairs and throws it in the river outside. Yet at the end of the movie, what magically appears in the fireplace? That same idol doll. No one ever picked it up, or made mention of it, in the last 20 or so minutes of the film when it was thrown away, but it magically appears in the fireplace, and Larry burns it to exorcise the demon spirit from Barb. So basically, what happened was the writers got too confused as to how to end the film and decided that the easiest way was to miraculously place the idol in the fire to be consumed by flames, freeing Barb. It's a suspension of disbelief that just doesn't seem to work well, and it's pretty confusing, actually.

But hey, you could do worse for an hour and a half movie. It's not original or creative, or even scary, but it's pretty funny and fun to watch, and also, the music is pretty catchy. So if you're in the mood for a possession, or John Saxon (that dreamy hunk, and here, he's pretty young) then rent this movie. It's not evil, but it'll have to do.

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