I’m ashamed of myself. Before tonight, I’d painted Stuart Gordon as a one-trick pony. Re-Animator. I’d seen a couple of his other films, like Dagon and Castle Freak, and…well… they were okay. Good enough. But just barely beyond the realm of awful. And his season 1 Masters of Horror episode? That was awful. (I gave up on season two before his episode aired.) But Re-Animator… It’s a classic! How could anything else he made possibly compare to it?
But I’d heard good things about From Beyond. Ever since the DVD was finally released last year, I’d been hearing good things about it and it’s been on my list of DVDs That I Need to Buy One Day. So while I was making a quick trip to Best Buy yesterday to pick up The Machine Girl, I happened to glance over and saw that From Beyond was on sale for a mere $8.99*. How could I resist?!
But after watching it today, I’d have to say that From Beyond is at least as good as Re-Animator, if not better. (Blasphemy? Maybe.) It might not have the fun and re-watchability of the adventures of Herbert West, but in the realm of horror, it’s pretty damned good.
The film opens with a physicist, Crawford Tillinghast (played by the always-great Jeffrey Combs), working on a device called The Resonator, which is supposed to stimulate the brain’s pineal gland, with the hopes of unlocking a “sixth sense.” Instead, he starts to see weird butthole-mouthed eels flying through the air, promptly gets bit by one, and runs downstairs to tell his sadomasochistic colleague, Dr. Pretorius, about his success. Pretorius soon has his head bitten off by interdimensional beings. Which will always ruin your weekend.
And this is all before the opening credits (and apparently, is the entirety of the H.P. Lovecraft story on which the film is based). Everything that happens next is purely the invention of Gordon and his co-writers. And that invention moves into some pretty weird territory that you’d expect from a Cronenberg flick. Add to that the extreme gooey-ness of the creatures and it could pass for one of Cronie’s films from this era.
Naturally, the head-eating creatures from Dimension X are, of course, going to show up again, and they do so in the form of Dr. Pretorius, returning in a monstrous form (which gets increasingly more monstrous as the film goes on) that looks a lot like Grant Grant‘s long lost cousin.
Weird stuff abounds. Stuff involving S&M (the pineal gland also controls sex drive), toothed-worm thingies growing out of peoples’ foreheads, flesh-eating flies (?), and Ken Foree in underwear small enough to make me feel a little bit uncomfortable (this was intercut with a scene of Barbara Crampton having her blouse ripped off, only adding to my confusion). And it’s pretty gross but in, you know, an awesome way.
So Basically, What I’m Saying Is: See the movie. I mean, only if you’re into really good, really slimy, really fun, really f’ed up horror movies. Or if you just really wanna see Ken Foree’s junk. Whatever floats your boat.
And Another Thing: The version of the movie that I watched is the Unrated Director’s Cut. Apparently there were several scenes in the movie that the MPAA was none too happy with back in 1986 when the film was released, but those scenes have been put back into the film over two decades later. I couldn’t tell you how this differs from the original version, since this is the only version I’ve ever seen. (There’s a good, short, featurette on the DVD that talks about the hassle of finding and editing the new footage back into the film.) And the DVD looks absolutely incredible. The bright reds and purples that make up the movie’s palette sort of pop off the screen. Buy that shizzle.
*This was a little weird, because the other $8.99 sale items seemed to be marketed as Father’s Day gifts. I can’t imagine giving my dad the gift of From Beyond. But whatever, I lucked out and got it for nine bucks so who am I to argue?