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Movie Review: Beyond the Grave (Porto dos Mortos – 2010)

In a post apocalyptic landscape a lone black clad lawman (Rafael Tombini) wanders in search of vengeance against an outre adversary; a demonically possessed serial killer (inspired in no small way by Stephen King’s great creation Randall Flagg). Along his journey our hero takes up with two teenage castaways who tag along on his dark mission, fights monsters and magic, and attempts to retain some semblance of his humanity as he stares further into the abyss of both his quest and the world he inhabits.

Highly reminiscent of the D.Y.I., punk rock aesthetic of early ’90’s genre film trailblazers such as Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, Beyond the Grave presents a story that takes well established tropes and puts a slight spin on them, along with a kinetic energy that ends up being a bit like Mad Max meets Phantasm…a world of grim policemen in muscle cars fighting zombies and magic in dilapidated industrial districts and sprawling bucolic landscapes. Speaking of our antagonist, Tombini portrays our nameless hero as both a bad ass, but also as an underdog that oft times gets his ass handed to him as he deals out his violent justice…which earns him our sympathy and makes him a strong character to root for. Also worth mentioning is how the DJ on the radio, which is constantly on in the Officer’s car, expands the world and helps explain and drive the narrative forward…the technique has been employed in plenty of flicks from The Warriors to Zombi 3, but it’s a solid narrative device, and it’s well utilized here. Finally there are some low tech, yet highly effective make-ups and gore set pieces on display here, and the effort and craft put it in should be well and duly noted!

On the negative side, this is epic world building, and not everything is spoon fed to the audience. I personally dig when we are expected to fill in the gaps with our imaginations…film as an interactive medium and all that…but if that ain’t your bag, you have been forewarned!

Pound for pound you’d be hard pressed to find an independent fright flick with as much rich mythology, style, and overall “cool” as Beyond the Grave…it’s frantic, action packed, full of off-kilter world building that will doubtless appeal to fans of flicks such as Nightwatch, Six String Samurai, and the aforementioned Phantasm films (especially the later films in the franchise)!

 

 

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