Scream Factory's FROM BEYOND Still As Electric As Ever!
As horror fans, we’ve been pretty lucky over the past several years as far as physical media releases go, and with so many choices I’m often hit with the ‘what the heck do I want to watch?’ dilemma as I thumb through the shelves of my Blu-ray collection, sometimes it’s random, sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes it’s just cinematic comfort food… but after revisiting some Lovecraft stories I knew exactly what I wanted to watch. The Brian Yuzna produced, Stuart Gordon directed science fiction body horror jam, From Beyond, was not a movie I grew up with, the VHS box art (along with nightmare-inducing cover to Ken Russell’s Gothic) totally freaked me out and it wasn’t until the Scream Factory reissue came along a few years back and I rectified that situation.
From Beyond tells the tale of two scientists, the obsessive Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel) and Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs) as they attempt to obtain entry to a parallel universe of pleasure by stimulating the pineal gland with a device called the Resonator. This Resonator allows whoever is within range to see beyond normal perceptible reality as ghostly floating creatures appear when it’s activated. Pretorius is dragged into their otherworldly dimension and In a chaotic panic, Crawford flees as the police arrive and discover the decapitated head of Pretorius. Crawford is blamed for his death and subsequently locked away in a mental asylum. Enter Barbara Crampton as Dr. Katherine McMichaels.
After Crawford gives his account of Pretorius' death, Katherine orders that Crawford undergo medical tests which in fact reveal his pineal gland is enlarged… and appears to actually be growing! With these events leaving her puzzled and intrigued, Katherine has him released to her custody with Detective Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree) in tow, as they bring him back the lab with hopes of continuing the experiments. Obviously, this leads them to the attic lab in Pretorius' house where not only the fateful Resonator awaits, but a returning Pretorius who eventually crosses over from Resonator land as a grotesque shape-changing sexual deviant monster. From this point on our story launches itself further into a gooey, brilliantly colored nightmare that’s slathered with ooze.
Based on the H.P. Lovecraft story of the same name and released a year after Re-Animator, From Beyond may linger in the shadows of its predecessor, but it’s every bit as goopy and intense whilst leaving much of comedy aspects of Its predecessor at the check-in desk (although honestly, I don’t find Re-Animator funny as most others do, it’s definitely darkly humorous but I’m more disturbed by it than anything). Jeffrey Combs once again completely captivates the screen with his performance as Crawford Tillinghast, going all in on selling every nuance of character but he’s not alone, Barbara Crampton delivers what may be my favorite of her many memorable performances as she takes on the Herbert West type role from Combs in a great role reversal. Our trio is rounded out by the always on point and completely lovable Ken Foree, who eats an apple in this like a boss and runs around in only a pair of red boxers for a solid 10 minutes, and last but not least, Ted Sorel as Pretorius really does live deliciously in the role of a crazed, sex maniac slime beast, Special shout to the Richard Band score as well as the glorious goop effects by John Carl Buechler and his team as they really go above and (from) beyond to create such brilliantly grotesque set pieces of eye pleasing slime.
I can’t not talk about two things that really appeal to me with here:
- When the Resonator is on we are BOMBARDED with purple and red lights within every scene—easily pleasuring my aesthetic senders. Give me swirling neon laboratories and other worldly goop monsters anyday of the week and I’m a happy camper.
- During one such scene, it happens... that moment when Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs, amidst strobing flurries of purple and red lights, lock eyes emotionally, eventually kissing a few scenes later under the same conditions and it’s glorious.
From Beyond is one of the best Horror films of the 1980’s that just so happens to be overshadowed by one of the best horror films from the 1980’s… both being Crown Jewels of Stuart Gordon’s fascinating obsession with Howard Phillips Lovecraft. The Scream Factory Collector's Edition Blu-ray is readily available through their site and a must for any 80’s body horror/Lovecraft fan and includes a slew of great features:
- Audio Commentary with writer Denis Paoli
- Multiple Dimensions – A look at the film’s extensive Make-Up & Creature Effects with Special Effects Creators John Buechler, Anthony Doublin, John Naulin, and Mark Shostrom (20 mins)
- Paging Dr. McMichaels – An interview with Actress Barbara Crampton (15 mins)
- A Tortured Soul – An interview with Actor Jeffrey Combs (15 mins)
- An Empire Production – An interview with Executive Producer Charles Band (5 mins)
EXTRAS CARRIED OVER FROM THE MGM 2007 DVD RELEASE:
- Audio Commentary with director Stuart Gordon and the cast
- The Director's Perspective - interview with Stuart Gordon
- The Editing Room: Lost And Found - Gordon Stuart and MGM restoration team interview
- Interview with composer Richard Band
- Storyboard to Film Comparisons with Introduction
- Two photo galleries
If you’ve skipped this one over, it’s time to give it a shot, From Beyond is Ghastly approved!