Behold I Am the Only Man Who Understands Beyond the Black Rainbow

By Kyle B. Stiff

Bring home the mother lode, B. Stiff…”


The key to understanding Black Rainbow is to have some knowledge of MK ULTRA and the CIA’s involvement in hippie culture. A little understanding of modern ufology also helps. You don’t need thousands of pages of heavily redacted government documents complete with blurry photos proving that JFK was on the set of the fake moon landing, but you need to know that they happened. Otherwise it’s like not knowing what a gun is and never having heard of World War II, and then watching Dunkirk or Saving Private Ryan; you’d think you were watching a random montage of fever dream images with no basis in reality, rather than a fairly straightforward story!

MK ULTRA… the condensed version. So in the 60s the Central Intelligence Agency ran a lot of strange experiments testing the limits of the human mind. One of the objectives was to find a way to keep a soldier from divulging secrets during interrogation; another objective was to try to make someone follow orders they had no conscious awareness of (this is where the idea of a Manchurian Candidate comes from). Those are both really the same objective, and the idea is to fragment a person’s mind, give information and orders to one facet of consciousness, hide that facet from the conscious mind, and then be able to recall that hidden facet using trigger words or phrases.

It might sound crazy, but in the 70s a bunch of documents about it were discovered. They were remnants of documents that were supposed to be destroyed when the CIA was covering its tracks in the wake of Watergate. There were hearings in the senate, and the whole affair is far stranger than anything you can imagine if you’ve never heard of it – look into it if you’re at all curious about the bizarre world you live in. One important thing to keep in mind about MK ULTRA is that drugs were a large part of the program; when you’re trying to bend and shift and fold and stretch the human mind, drugs are the most powerful tools you have at your disposal.

Of course, hallucinogens like LSD were in heavy use by the CIA, and plenty of agents were involved in the drug scene in America in the 60s. The hippie movement was not as organic as it would seem. Maybe any scene that moves young and impressionable minds is orchestrated to some extent. Whether some rogue branch of the CIA were the puppet masters or just another pawn in the game, I have no idea. But there’s a reason why the FBI was adamant about looking for Communists in the CIA, and why you don’t find too many Republican hippies!

That’s enough background. I’m getting old and I don’t have the patience I used to. Let’s move on to the actual film!


Beyond the Black Rainbow takes place in a secret MK ULTRA facility where a girl named Elena is imprisoned. She has psychic powers, much like El from Stranger Things, a story inspired by the same interdimensional muse. Both stories also take place in the 80s, during the Satanic Panic, a time similar to our own when a large pedophile ring is rumored to be operating just under the radar (remember, if you can drug and record a politician having sex with a child, you can control said politician). Though Black Rainbow takes place in the 80s, its roots are in the 60s, when Dr. Mercurio Arboria founded the Arboria Institute. There were a lot of places like the Arboria Institute in the 60s, where funding was given to hippies who got blasted on psychedelics and talked about how All is One and we were on the verge of a utopia. Sorry if I’m trampling the mystique but I’m trying to cover a lot of material in a short amount of time.

Dr. Arboria had an assistant named Barry Nyle (the last name is probably indicative of nihilism). Barry made the ultimate sacrifice by taking part in Dr. Arboria’s experiment to push a human beyond all limitations. First he took a concentrated dose of LSD, then he submerged himself in a pool of hallucinogenic goop. Barry crossed the abyss of Da’ath and was stripped of everything, including his humanity, and the thing that came back from that trip was no longer human. There was an unnamed woman helping out during this experiment; Barry loved her, but Dr. Arboria had already scooped her up. The human Barry would have been content to stifle his jealousy and cover it with a sad smile, but the demon living in the shell of Barry did not hesitate – he killed her.


Dr. Arboria was so swept up in his own narrative and his sense of being on a mission that he didn’t turn Barry in to the police for murder, and thus jeopardize his Institute. Instead, he assumed that Barry’s actions were informed by a higher intelligence beyond mere human understanding. He probably saw Barry as an avatar of the New Aeon, and he named Barry as his successor to the Arboria Institute.

Of course the idealistic 60s gave way to the “business first” ethos of the 80s, replacing rambling jackoffs like Bob Dylan with charming psychopaths like JR Ewing. The hallucinogens of the Arboria Institute were replaced with mood altering pills. In many scenes Barry looks like he is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but after a few shiny pills (“Half a gram is better than a damn!”) his frown turns upside down.


Barry (or Dr. Nyle) is undoubtedly the antagonist of the film, but he’s also a victim himself. He is clearly young and impressionable in the 60s flashback. Moreover, I believe the woman he lives with is not necessarily his wife – she is his handler (though she may play the role of his wife). In modern conspiracy mythology, all victims of MK ULTRA mind control have “handlers” – that is, one or more people who provide upkeep, reconditioning, and jobs for their fragmented subjects. It is worth noting that Barry’s handler is also a victim of MK ULTRA herself. When her handler calls to provide verbal triggers and instructions, she’s too zonked out to answer the phone; Barry answers, and he knows that he’s listening to his handler’s handler. He is crushed to find out that he is not a paragon of enlightenment and power, but only one link in a chain of command. The phone call marks the beginning of his desire to break free from his prison.

Barry’s bizarre and disturbing transformation at the end marks the final shedding of humanity. Taking off his wig and eye contacts are a way of removing his mask of humanity. He puts on a leather suit because, to a demon without a solid identity, a body is merely a “leather suit”, or something one wears to go on a joyride. He talks to himself in the car, as both driver and passenger, a fragmented consciousness that can never be made whole, utterly narcissistic and beyond any moral limitation (“You’re doing so good!”).


When Elena collapses outside of her cell, she has to be safely transported back inside. Barry activates a Sentionaut to do the work – that is, an android controlled by a computer program. At the end of the film, when Elena is escaping from the facility, she shuts down a Senionaut using her psychic powers.


What is a Sentionaut? They’re a common staple of modern alien mythology and ufology. In fact, lots of conspiracy types figure that your typical “Gray alien” is an android meat-puppet. They seem to have no will of their own, low intelligence, abject fear of those higher on the pay scale, etc. The Sentionaut shown without his mask even looks sort of like a Gray alien. Also note that the Sentionaut implants a homing beacon in Elena’s neck. How many stories have we heard of Gray aliens putting implants into abductees?


Barry uses an ominous pyramid to dampen Elena’s will and knock her out. The image of the pyramid of course brings to mind the idea of the Masonic pyramid, or Egyptian influence on many other secret societies. I don’t have anything solid about this, but I think it’s the basic idea that people can be controlled by future-tech, especially if it’s informed by any kind of “sacred geometry” that points toward higher intelligence. Is it hard to imagine someone turning up the dial on a machine causing people to go into a frenzy after the last Presidential election in America? Discourse is no longer occurring on a rational level, as those parts of the brain have been dampened by our theoretical machine. The debate now occurs in angry, emotional circles where neither side can even sense the inherent humanity of the other side.

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I almost forgot! Keep in mind that Elena was submerged into the same hallucinogenic goop and travelled through the abyss just like Barry, but she did it as a child! Sometimes the very things that we think create villains, like traumatic events, can also bring out the best in us. Being stripped of pretense doesn’t make a person into anything, it only reveals what is already there… the truth hiding beyond the black rainbow!

* * *

Panos Cosmatos is working on another film, MANDY, which also takes place in 1983 and is a spiritual “sequel” or companion to Beyond the Black Rainbow. It will feature the internet’s favorite freak-out king, Nicholas Cage, star of David Lynch’s Wild at Heart!

Meanwhile Kyle B. Stiff is continuing work on VOIVOD, his epic historical fiction series about the life of Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula!

27 responses to “Behold I Am the Only Man Who Understands Beyond the Black Rainbow

    • I wouldn’t say bored, not exactly. If anything, I feel overwhelmed by everything I want to do and learn. Buuuuut I do feel that huge emptiness that I’m sure is not unique to me.

      Formidine I had one of my AI networks run a quadruple systems-analysis proxy field runtime hunt-and-triangulate “hail Mary” omega-level Nexus 7 google search of your name. Are you a writer???


      • Haha thank you for the great online detective work! Yes I am a writer and published author (horror fiction and esoteric works). I really loved your breakdown of Beyond the Black Rainbow. Actually quite profound. Have you seen Mandy yet? I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts! I know what you mean about the darkness. I too feel it inside, growing like some black nebula in space. I think many of us are experiencing this as well. Possibly influenced by this new epoch we entered a few years back? Age of Aquarius.

        I like the phrase I initially posted because it’s one of the few phrases I know of that are the same mirrored;)



      • Thanks for the kind words, Nex! I just ordered a copy of Mandy. If the muse is generous enough to beam something into my humble skull, thus sparking the twisted mass of hot dogs and potted meat that make up my brain, I’ll definitely write something. That’s the awful thing about this blog, I always wait like a year before I write about anything, thus making me completely culturally irrelevant!
        I didn’t even notice that it was mirrored, but when I first saw it, it kind of made me wonder if an AI was messing with me! I had just read something about a guy figuring out that someone in a chat room was most likely an AI, and I was still freaking out about it…
        We’re definitely transitioning into a new age. I feel like Ozymandias from The Watchmen, watching dozens of TVs and trying to figure out all the different levels on which the interdimensional conflict are happening, and what it all even means.


    • Thank you Constantine! It might seem awesome to be Kyle B. Stiff, but the downside is that I must bear the heavy burden of being the Official Understander of Beyond the Black Rainbow. Do not envy me, good sir…


  1. I agree with some points of your observations about black rainbow, but not all of them… being the woman who was in the 1966 “mother lode’ scene was Elena’s mother…..Mecuro says something to the effect of “your mothers reabsorption into the circle of life will not be for nothing, my dear Elena” and then she gets placed into the black ooze granting her psychic powers too………..this is also supported by the fact that Barry was obviously enamored by Elena’s mother, which is why the Bad Trip Barry killed her, the same way he is now enamored by Elena, he even makes a reference that she, Elena, looks like her mother more and more each day…..which is why he kills her father with a drug overdose, Barry alone wants to be with Elena he believes they are kindred spirits….I also believe that Barry is under the impression that he is an “elevated” or “enlightened” human 2.0. He has reached the next state of consciousness or spiritual evolution and all others are beneath his and Elena’s worth, which is shown in the arrogance he expresses to Rosemary…..this is shown when he abandons his “appliances” assumes his true form and has that moment with rosemary, before he kills her, saying that he has been to another world and that he has seen things that no human has ever seen, except Elena. Also another point you make is that the phone call Barry gets when he is home is Rosemary’s handler…..right before that scene we see Margo, the institutes only nurse……. walk down a long hallway at the institute and see a button flickering on a black wall. She pushes the button and a draw opens and there is a book in there that has many strange notes and images written/illustrated in it…..many of them having to do with Elena’s case..she is so disturbed by this book she slams it closed and puts it back, dropping a cigarette ash on the floor……right after that scene Barry gets the call from a disconnected phone and the message is played backwards and has sounds very similar to a modem connecting and basically informs Barry that Margo has seen too much and needs to be neutralized…the next day Barry tell Margo that Elena has an illicit object, the picture of her mother that Barry gave her, Margo takes it from her Barry turns off the pyramid and Elena makes her eyes pop out of her head……


  2. Just watched the movie, and it was trippy AF, so I google’s Beyond the Black Rainbow meaning.
    I wanted to know if you have any comment on the usage of red and blue lighting in the movie?


    • I’ve been thinking about your question, and I have to admit, I don’t think my brain attributes a lot of meaning to color! At least, not beyond the basic stuff, like red = angry, and blue = the good guys. I did a little searching and found a nerd who claims that in movies, blue represents control, order, and a sedate mood. Maybe all the blues and reds are about Barry suppressing his demon?


  3. Good job breaking it all down. I was also thinking these things and you just confirmed it even more for me. Also one interesting this is like to add. In the scene right as Dr. Aboria dies the tv show the island of Mulikai and then president Reagan. It made me think of Bohemian Grove which Reagan attended and most likely worshipped the owl of moloch.


    • Nice catch! I didn’t know Reagan went to Bohemian Grove, but I looked into it and yeaaaaah, unfortunately he was there. So he probably had some weird guy in a robe in his ear rambling about masonic mysteries while prying open his “third eye” if you know what I mean. Power in exchange for dignity. Terrible stuff. I remember Reagan, I was a kid in the 80s, so before I knew about evil degenerates controlling the world, all I knew was that he ruled America during one of our best decades. A beautiful time when human creativity was channeling visions straight from God. Unforgettable movies, unbelievable aesthetic, movies and games that we still look back on. Kids could ride around on bikes in safety (mostly). California was a paradise, people dreamed of living there instead of being desperate to escape. Ahhh but what am I saying, America was beautiful all over! God I miss the 80s!


  4. Pingback: On Pervy Old Men – Sertraline Dreams

  5. Thankyou for the breakdown Sir… very enlightening.

    I missed the connection you make about Rosemary so that cleared up that (I was starting to think the ‘Phone Call’ was just something we are expected to accept but your thoughts on this pivotal scene shed a lot of light on Barry’s change of motivation (I saw Manchurian Candidate at school in the 80’s and have always held it in high regard so that gelled nicely, thankyou)).

    My only addition is a question… The ‘cocooned’ creature Elena has to pass in the white-room after the elevator bit puzzles me somewhat. Is this supposed to represent the husk that was Barry after returning from his black-ooze journey? as it kinda looks like him…? I’m sure it can’t be just a random person… but that’s why I’m at a loss.

    The rest is pretty much as I thought after watching ‘BTBRainbow’ and I agree when you say the actual storyline of Elena gaining her freedom is a fairly simple tale told in a most fantastic and visual way buy a director who has given two very stylized, gorgeous movies that are a treat to see/listen to and be swept away by… nice. I love the way Cosmatos re-uses certain visuals, colours, pacing and ideas/themes in Mandy, so I love the connections there… ie Barry has a knife called Devils Teardrop, stabbing in someones mouth, crushing skulls barehanded, looking over and seeing people not there, the use of super-strange concentrated hallucinogens and seeing massive insects in a single instance… what a visual feast.

    Thankyou for posting your thoughts on the movie and take care,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Mark! You know, as for that strange creature, I never gave it a lot of thought! Maybe it is something like Barry, some poor man they sent into the black goop, but when he saw “beyond the black rainbow” the change stripped him of too much humanity. He failed the spiritual test and couldn’t even pretend to be human afterward, like Barry, and now he can only lash out blindly at those who still have souls. As horrible as it sounds, I’m guessing a facility like that probably has lots of floors and tons of bizarre experiments are going on. I always assumed that the house in MANDY where Nicholas Cage fights the Black Skulls was an entrance into one of those facilities, since it has a secret elevator shaft in the basement. It might even be the very one where Barry worked. Probably the Black Skulls were created in that facility, and they hate the people who made them what they are.


  6. Do you know what the backwards message is at the end of the movie at about 1:49:38? There is a short clip of an action figure dressed in a brown outfit laying on carpet at this point. I watched the movie on Prime.


      • John that is a great question, I have to admit I never watched past the credits until you mentioned it, so this is new to me! It looks like a sentionaut “action figure” which may be a reference to our nostalgia for another age, specifically, the 80s, which is sort of the last great era in American history. It’s all been downhill ever since then. Of course I was really intrigued by that bit of audio! I got an app that can play audio backwards, but it was so quiet that it was really hard to record. I had to bump up my speakers to a level I didn’t even know existed! But I finally succeeded in getting the audio, it’s someone saying, “We have lost visual contact. Do you read? Repeat, do you read?” Sort of sounds like an old NASA or military audio from one of their missions, I’m guessing it has to do with Barry’s handlers losing him or losing Elena, and being forced to scurry to clean up their mess. But on another level, it could also be about our muse, or the angels who govern us, losing contact with us as we drift further and further away from our assigned purpose in creation. The world has completely fallen out of balance and nobody is anywhere near being happy. So maybe it’s like God calling out to us – or maybe I am, as usual, reading too much into things!


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