Posh pretty boy Zenoff (Lucas de Chabaneix), who looks like a slightly less effete version of pedomorphic Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, is a dandy-esque yet rather restrained dude who is in love with an older and much more debauched dame of the blonde beastess sort named Xenia (Souchka), who has moved on to bigger things and is planning to marry an intellectually pedantic, libertine megalomaniac/false messiah of the rather wealthy yet raunchy sort named Yald (Fred Saint-James). Of course, being unaware that his horny hag lover Xenia is about to be married to a psychopathic charlatan, poor Zenoff is in for quite the surprise when he shows up to the couple's mischievous mansion of madness—a perturbing and putrid palace of perversion where women merrily masturbate with slimy squids and fish, wild buck-naked negroes sic German shepherds on unclad and unhinged bitches, Neanderthal-like beast-men rape women for the pleasure of viciously voyeuristic party guests, lanky long-haired fag twinks wearing nothing but fishnets are whipped by Negro fag drag queens, and countless other decidedly distasteful things that are apparently quite savory to sexual sadists looking for a new kinky kick. Needless to say, Zenoff is turned off by Xenia’s strikingly sick salaciousness and her seemingly brainwashed mind, but he especially loathes yahoo Yald as the old geezer quite brazenly brags about his wealth and wild wantonness as a self-appointed nihilist prophet. As Yald tells Zenoff after the younger lad states his disapproval of his lecherous lifestyle, “I find you a victim of your stifling environment…totally unreasonable and without personal individual judgment. I’m past that and I don’t care what others think of me. Their opinions are meaningless to me…Their morality a farce. I only care for what gratifies me. And the great point is I am able to afford it.” A young man not willing to take no for an answer, especially after being told by Yald to keep his hands off his girl, Zenoff essentially rapes Xenia in the forest after wrestling with her in a pond, but she ultimately rather enjoys it and the two wander around the woods naked like a hyper-horny hippie Adam and Eve, thus making it seem like their past romantic connection has been restored, but the young man has no clue to what degree his would-be-soul-mate has been tainted by her soon-to-be hubby's wicked worldview where senseless sub-erotic excess always comes before true love.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and Xenia ends up wedding Yald during a seemingly Satanic/Crowleyite marriage ceremony that concludes with the couple committing communal coitus before their disciples. For sexually ravaging his woman before the wedding night, Yald offers Zenoff to play a fateful game where he must pick out who Xenia is among a number of women hidden in Cocteau-esque masks, which he loses, thus forcing him to become the student of his archenemy. After submitting to Yald in a homoerotic game involving sharp knives and superlatively gay hippie pants, Zenoff drives a dagger into the elder man’s gut, thereupon sending him straight to hell. A cold cunt who has just inherited a fortune and a aristocratic chateau full of sexual servants, Xenia does not seem too sad about Yald’s premature death via phallocentric penetration, yet she decided to carry on her short-lived husband’s legacy and Zenoff becomes a spiritual cuckold of sorts as a slave of the deranged de Sadian pseudo-religion. Concluding in a fiendish and unintentionally farcical fashion that seems like a parody of the end of Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) in its assortment of extravagant torture scenarios, Beyond Love and Evil ultimately works great as a campy comedy of the carnally crazy sort, but is virtually impossible to take literally, although I must admit that I rather appreciated the cinematic work's rather rare and uncomprimising 'evil and perversion conquers all' message. In the end, old Yald’s legacy of sexual brutality reigns as his widow Xenia puts Zenoff through a libertine regiment that forever changes him and then kicks out the door, leaving the poor lover boy with her colder-than-a-sad-Somalian-in-Alaska words: “We played a game. You have lost and you will forever be conditioned by the principles Yald taught. Instilling them in you has been my revenge for his murder. You are full of cravings and desires that can never be satisfied anywhere else on earth except here with me. I don’t want you…I despise you for your sentimentality. That weakness you call love. I have already forgotten you have ever existed…That I ever knew you. You will remember me with bitterness…everyday of your life.” Indeed, Beyond Love and Evil—for better or worse—is certainly a film that goes ‘beyond love and evil,’ as erotic (or more like ‘anti-erotic’) excess triumphs over everything else, especially anything resembling conventional human emotion. Undoubtedly, Beyond Love and Evil is surely a film for those who think of the Manson family as opposed to Woodstock when they think of cultural highlights of the late-1960s counter-culture era, as the film may feature mass orgies and LSD-tinged debauchery, but certainly nothing as banal as commie peace and love.
Since the American English edit of Beyond Love and Evil, which was edited by a clearly non-French fellow named Stan Rosenthal, was the only version of Jacques Scandelari’s film I could find, I can only wonder how the original French version differs, but judging by the absurdly inane and oftentimes mundane melodramatic dialogue of the Yank version, I assume it was butchered for the curious consumption of deadhead and braindead hippies and other Amero-mutt rabble. Since I did have the opportunity to view Jacques Scandelari’s masterpiece of hardcore man-on-man mayhem and lurid leather-fag celluloid grit Cock Tales (1978) aka New York City Inferno—the virtual missing link between Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964) and William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980), except all the more sexually explicit and sensually sadistic—which is totally uncompromising from beginning to end and does not wallow in ridiculous dialogue, I would assume that the English version of Beyond Love and Evil has been made more palatable for philistines and porn addicts. Of course, being a work that mainly focuses on foul fetishism and that features nil scenes of real unsimulated sex, Beyond Love and Evil will probably prove to be a major disappointment for virginal gorehounds looking for mere visual vice of the terribly trite variety. Featuring dismembered Hans Bellmer-esque pubescent doll statues and a variety of decadent surreal pop-art, on top of endless scenes of sophisticated sensual savagery, Beyond Love and Evil is undoubtedly an aesthetically penetrating, if not sometimes plainly passé, experience of pervasive psychedelic/psycho-sexual depravity that bows to no one's morals, not even the Marquis de Sade himself. With its antagonistic atheistic message of advocating one to exercise, as opposed to exorcise, one’s demons, as well as its less than socially liberal message of master morality over slave morality, Beyond Love and Evil is also a virtual recruitment video for the Church of Satan, except with more interesting rituals and more elaborate and intriguing aesthetics. If there is anything to be learned from watching Scandelari's scandalous piece of surrealist cinematic sensuality Beyond Love and Evil, it is that stern ideologies, even those grounded in worshipping immorality, are radically repressive and can turn charming twinks into slavish cry baby toddlers. If you're looking for a rare celluloid treat that manages to blur the line between arthouse and exploitative celluloid trash, few films compare to Beyond Love and Evil—the closest thing to a porn flick in the spirit of Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Manson, the Cockettes (rather unfortunately) and, of course, the Marquis de Sade.