Beware of the walking dude.
The portrayal of hell, zombies and occult rituals are staples of the horror genre, but Beyond the Grave offers the viewer a very different take on these themes. It is, at heart, a horror action road movie, the central yellow lines of the highway rushing by signifying not only place and time but also the rhythm within a road movie aesthetic that travels beyond the spatial dimensions of the genre and into a temporal one. If this sounds like pretentious art-house fodder then fear not, for the premise is a pleasing combination of horror mixed with a range of cinema genres, with added jump cut editing and altered camera perspectives. This is intelligent fun with the emphasis on cult entertainment.
In a prologue (or is it? We are told that time varies in this world, an environment that is familiar yet different from ours) our sort-of hero, the Policial Officer (Rafael Tombini) gains a sword from the Samurai (Lindon Shimizu), a useful implement that he will need for battle – in addition to his gun. He has in his policia car a number of photo-files of assailants he needs to find, the most personal – to him – of which is Dark Rider, an horrendous executer of nefarious demonic pursuits, who has dogged his attempts at confrontation. The world is at an end, or has indeed, as the repeated radio broadcasts announce, ended, so what is his purpose in this world of highways, where the occasional human survivors can be found sheltering from the undead? He picks up a young couple who are aware of the apocalypse that is happen or will soon happen or has happened and despite their justifiable fear of the living dead and with combat abilities need some improvement, Policial Officer takes them under his wing. The three find themselves in an old family home where the residents have their own ways of engaging with the walking deceased but also have deep problems of their own to contend with. And then there is the location of the occult worshippers with their satanic incantations, intent on killing or converting. No-one is safe. Will Policial Officer manage to confront and hopefully defeat the demonic enemy Dark Rider?
As the tagline professes he is ‘Justice… in this or any other world’. In many respects reflecting the violence, politics and characterisation of comic books such as The Preacher series, Beyond the Grave mixes a plethora of genres (science fiction, alternate worlds, occult horror, zombie film and action movie) in a variety of episodic encounters. Matters progress at a tight pace, always engaging because even if the scenarios are familiar at times their perspectives have been altered to protect the innocent, or at least those not as evil as the opposition. So, Lucio Fulci style, the Seven Gates of Hell have opened and their denizens unleashed with the aim of converting the populace. The variety of oppressors our protagonists have to face – apart from the Dark Rider – are also engaging and darkly humorous; these include The Old West Killer, The Spaghetti Killer or The Bandit. So much to enjoy in a different blend of familiarity – macabre humour, action and occult horror blend in a world like ours but filmed in a style that is very different. A road move that drives home its frightening messages in a clever but entertaining way.