Gore? Check. Necrophilia? Check. Adult breastfeeding? Check. Torture? Check. Cannibalism? Check. Depraved love & obsession? Check. This little transgressive horror ‘sploiter will knock your dick in the dirt!
Duane: Ah, Buio Omega. Arguably one of D’Amato’s most notorious films that still gets a lot of knickers in a twist – and rightfully so. This tale of lost love and one man’s inability to let go is revolting, heartbreaking, stimulating, and lurid all at the same time. Even having crammed so much junk inside my head over the years this film still manages to astonish me; Buio Omega has it all and it manages to do it in a way that’s inherent to the story and the development of the characters rather than just for shock value. Kieran Canter’s (The Lonely Lady) almost infantile performance as Frank is something I’ve always found fascinating and genre favorite Franca Stoppi (The Other Hell, Women’s Prison Massacre) as the very creepy housekeeper Iris has always managed to make my skin crawl; she was born to play this role. It’s a shame that this one still gets censored and banned in a lot of countries, as it’s arguably one of D’Amato’s best efforts.
Jocelyn: Shockingly enough, this was a first viewing for me. I always feel a sort of dumbfounded guilt when I finally get around to a classic which invariably leaves me wanting to spend the rest of the evening gathering switches for a long night of self-flagellation. My warped masochism aside, this film wins in a big way & on a multitude of levels.
Foremost, it’s notable for being the first soundtrack that I knew inside & out before ever seeing the film which provided a new & unique viewing experience. On top of that, I couldn’t help but notice that our lead has a modest soft and hardcore porn background, immediately recognizing him from his role as The (bloated, effeminate) Devil in The Devil in Mr. Holmes. And how wonderful is it to see Cinzia Monreale (The Beyond, They Died with Their Boots On) without those damned contacts? Franca Stoppi carried the movie for me though, with her twisted portrayal of a woman obsessed with her manipulative dominance over the child-like lead, Frank. When I was treated to full-on adult breastfeeding before the 30 min mark that’s when I knew that I was in for some hardcore fucking awesome.
D: I find a lot of these films get really overhyped and by the time I see them I’m often disappointed. This is of course an exception, and I’ll even go as far as to say that D’Amato generally satisfies way more than he disappoints. His films typically have some really fucked up aspect to them that catches you off guard whether it be the fetus devouring in Anthropohagus or the horse scene in Emanuelle in America. He wasn’t afraid of the censors and was true to his artistic vision. The thing with Buio Omega is that the whole film is outstanding and chock full of great scenes – you’re never left waiting for that one scene you’ve heard about because it’s all worthwhile. The gore is extremely well done, in particular the dismemberment and subsequent dissolving of the hitchhiker where they used all manner of innovative camera angles to get the shot to look just right instead of relying on a shitty gore gag. You can tell a lot of care went into the making of this film.
I love how Frank punishes anything that hurts him. He gets scratched, he rips out the offending fingernails. He gets bit and he bites back – literally. He lashes out like an ill-tempered child and that adds a dangerous volatility to his character.
J: Yea, D’Amato is one of those directors whose highs are high & vice versa. I’ve seen about all of his horror & sexploitation titles but his straight-up adult stuff varies so wildly that I’ll likely never make it through that entire catalog. (Convent of Sinners & Hell’s Angel 2 being particular favorites of mine) He seems like when he’s legitimately inspired he can really do some great work but he’s phoned it in on more than a few occasions. Buio Omega was for so many years associated only with Goblin to me, it was simply a soundtrack that I loved but had yet to bear witness to the film it inhabited. Oddly enough, I don’t recall anyone ever talking up this movie. You grow up hearing stories about Anthropophagus, Porno Holocaust & Erotic Nights of the Living Dead but for me this film is by far the most rewarding. Those films I won’t say get “ruined” by hype but they get reduced to punchlines and specific gore scenes. When I first watched Anthropophagus I wanted to shove a fucking knife in my ear, it was just so painfully slow. In hindsight I can appreciate it more but having the rare treat of walking into Buio Omega with very little background information & being wonderfully surprised allows this film to hold a very special place in my heart, for which I’m thankful.
The film’s richness and willingness to visit uncomfortable and unpopular places within the human mind is worthy of celebration. The image of Frank embalming his love with tear-stained cheeks & eating her heart will be something that I won’t soon forget. His parents being ripped from his life almost 10 yrs prior, we can only assume that this young boy was ripe picking for the perverted and deviant desires of Iris who relished in simultaneously tormenting & nurturing him. The scene after they dispose of the hitchhiker where she’s purposefully antagonizing him by stuffing her face with the shredded meat and grinding it in her teeth – taunting this weak-willed and ineffectual boy and reveling in the power she feels over him; Franca displays Iris’s black heart so masterfully in this scene. For an actress in a horror film this seems like it would have been such a satisfying role to play; I know I adored every moment she was onscreen.
D: Ugh that scene with the meat was so nauseating! What gets me during the embalming is the cracking sound as Frank forces the metal probes into her brain though her eye sockets. Exquisite! The keen-eyed viewer will note a scene where Frank’s dead fiancé falls out of a wardrobe where she’s been stashed that was echoed in Pieces three years later.
The theme of necrophilia is something that hasn’t been explored enough in film. Not that Frank is outright banging her or anything (that make out scene was pretty awesome though), but it’s a pretty exciting concept to fuck some unsuspecting chippy right next to your recently deceased fiancé and using her as a post-mortem Viagra of sorts. Very few filmmakers have explored this subject effectively and I respect D’Amato for pulling it off here.
D/J: Buio Omega is one of D’Amato’s shining achievements; having a career that spanned almost three decades that’s no small feat. It’s controversial, at times even shocking & most assuredly not for the faint of heart – but above all else it’s a solidly crafted piece of cinema. Absolutely essential.
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