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Metamorphosis / Beyond Darkness – Double Feature (Blu-ray Review)

Metamorphosis-Beyond-DarknessA double feature of insane Italian horror awaits you… On August 25, 2015, Scream Factory proudly presents Metamorphosis and Beyond Darkness, two tales of scary supernatural shenanigans both on Blu-ray for the first time!  This marks the second time this year that Scream Factory has dabbled in the Italian horror scene.  And it feels like its sorta been a long time coming.  Hopefully the previous one (Ghosthouse and Witchery) sold well, as will this one and we can continue to see this road traveled.  In my older age, I’m much more a fan of these than I was in my youth.  Something about their dream logic goofiness and wonderful use of color wins me over moreso now.

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Metamorphosis 

When his experiments in genetics are mocked by his colleagues, maverick scientist Dr. Peter Houseman takes extreme measures to prove that his untested anti-aging serum works. Injecting himself with his miracle cure, he soon experiences a terrifying change within himself that threatens not only the lives of those around him, but also his own sanity.

This one is basically a your run of the mill mad scientist – Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde film.  The film is very much a slow burner and doesn’t quite cook much until this end.  Its one that seems driven by its desire to show off a lot of make up effects and sort of evolve a creature.  The effects we get as a result aren’t mind blowing but merely ok.

There is some goofiness to this one here and there, but not enough to keep on completely entertained throughout.  The film seems to promise a little more in the way of scares and horror  action or maybe some freaky stuff for suspense upon its premise, but never really delivers in any of those regards.  Its got a nice typical Italian horror score that helps to keep things moving, but it doesn’t really move itself.

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Beyond Darkness 

When a man of God and his loving family move into a new house, they think they’ve found the perfect home…until they discover that their new digs were once the location where a coven of witches were burned at the stake! It’s only a matter of time before the radio starts blaring satanic chants and the cutlery takes on a mind of its own. Will the awakened evil in this house have its final revenge, or can a plucky priest fend off what lurks Beyond Darkness?

Here we go.  Claudio Fragasso, the man who delighted us with Troll 2 is here the year before that bombshell was dropped upon us.  And we almost have what seems to be a prequel to it in terms of some production aspects.  The score here feels like its growing up to one day be the Troll 2 score.  It evokes a lot of the same beats and feeling as that one.  We also have Michael Stephenson who was the star of Troll 2.  Not of Troll 2 significance, but I was delighted to see Jason Takes Manhattan‘s Barbara Bingham as a part of this cast.

Beyond Darkness is your typical Amityville-style haunted house flick, where people inside get possessed and priests freak out.  While there is plenty of bad acting and poor production silliness that you want to see from a Fragasso film, he’s actually more competent here.  He does envoke some pretty creepy moods and also invigorates some scary looking set pieces.  No, this movie isn’t scaring anyone over the age of 7, but there are some solid efforts made here.  This is the better of the two films on this release.  Its subpar, but its the Fragasso subpar that makes it the more entertaining and interesting.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Clarity/Detail:  The transfers on both films are relatively similar. They come from the same studio and year, so likely the film stock was identical.  Beyond Darkness looks a little smoother than Metamorphosis though.  That’s about the only difference.  The images are both detailed pretty well and clean looking.

Depth: Dimensional work is pretty solid here.  They’re not completely flat, but aren’t going to wow anyone in their 3D aspects.  Movements are smooth and film like.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep, with no crushing.  Detail is diminished on black hair, surfaces and clothing articles.

Color Reproduction: Colors take on a dingier looking appearance for both films.  Though, the one color that counts in horror, RED, is well represented.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones take on a slightly colder look in Beyond Darkness and maintain a natural appearance in Metamorphosis.  Detail is better in close ups where you can see sweat patterns, freckles, wrinkles and the like.  As mentioned above, at times Beyond Darkness has an overly smooth appearance.

Noise/Artifacts:  These are pretty nice prints being used here.  There is some healthy grain here and some light specs on Metamorphosis.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): Metamorphosis: English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA / Beyond Darkness English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  These are both lively tracks that do the trick.  Beyond Darkness is a little loud and peaks at some intervals.  Music and effects can jump in pretty loud but I think its by design.  Metamorphosis is a little more restrained on its presentation feature a more balance and less jumpy desing.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is nice and loud.  Beyond Darkness does see a lot of hissing when people pronounce the letter “S”.

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Extras 

The reverse side of the cover art features promotional photos/art for each film.

Metamorphosis Trailer (HD, 3:43)

Beyond Darkness Trailer (HD, 1:29)

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Summary 

You know, they could call this the Gene LeBrock Double Feature set.  The man only starred in five feature films in his career and here are two of them.  These are both Italian films moreso in the fact that they just have Italian directors or funding.  The performers in them are fluently English and haven’t been dubbed over in the past.  This Double Feature Blu-ray features some solid work in the video transfer and audio performance.  No extras here to be found, but then again, you’re getting two films for the price of one and the fact these films are hitting Blu-ray is a cool enough reason.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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