Well, this week has been Stuart Gordon Week. All of this week’s content has been leading up to my Fangoria Movie Friday review of Stuart’s 1986 horror classic, From Beyond. The movie, like the previous The Re-animator, was based on an HP Lovecraft short story.
You’ve seen this week how much Fangoria was in love with the idea of this movie. I remember it all over the magazine back in the mid 80s. For some reason, even though I love Re-animator, I had never watched this movie. But now I have. And it’s not bad.
The premise is rather interesting. A machine called “The Resonator” stimulates your pineal gland to allow you to see other dimensions which causes creepy creatures to manifest all around you. And the more you are exposed to the effects of “The Resonator” the more it changes you. Dr Pretorius and his assistant, Dr Tillinghast, who created the machine, turn it on and see these weird creatures appear. Suddenly an accident occurs where Pretorius is seemingly killed and his assistant locked up in an asylum for the murder (an asylum because he’s spouting gibberish about inter dimensional creatures killing the doctor). A beautiful psychologist, Dr McMichaels, believes the assistant is innocent and convinces him to take her to “The Resonator” to investigate the crime scene and they are accompanied by the awesome Detective Bubba Brownlee. And lots of horror and interdimensional craziness occurs.
This movie definitely has a “by the Creators of Re-animator” vibe. Not just because of the two principles, but the whole feel of the movie is very Re-animator-ish. Which, of course, I like from the beginning. Also, with like only 2 or 3 set pieces and only four principle actors, this also has a very stripped down, minimalist feel. Like we are watching this performance as a bizarre theater production. It absolutely feels like something you’d go see in a dark theater WAY off Broadway. And that works in the movie’s favor.
The actors are very good too. Jeffrey Combs is a little less crazy in this but he’s every bit as manic and interesting as he was in The Re-animator. Barbara Crampton is great as Dr McMichaels and I still have a huge crush on her. She doesn’t have an iconic scene in this like she did with the severed head giving her…well…head…in The Re-animator, but we do get a great scene of her in a leather dominatrix outfit. I was very surprised by Ken Foree as Detective Brownlee. He was AWESOME even going so far as fighting inter-dimensional creatures in nothing but a red thong. Seriously. It’s awesome. The final principle was Dr Pretorius played by Ted Sorel. He was the least interesting to me, but he played it fine. Nothing to complain about, but nothing really to praise either.
Is this as good as The Re-animator? No, it’s not. However, it’s a pretty fun little flick and I’d recommend giving it a shot especially if you loved The Re-animator.
I mentioned that this movie was based on a short story of the same name. I hadn’t read the story either, but since it was only like eight pages I went ahead and read it after I watched the movie. It’s essentially like a prologue to the movie. The events in the story are mostly what happens in the beginning of the movie with the machine getting turned on, the creatures showing up and Dr Tillinghast (Pretorius in the movie) getting killed and his best friend/partner taking the rap for it. It’s not bad, but short.
Let’s look at some of the more choice moments of this movie.
There’s the title card on the left and on the right, the opening shot of the movie which is a cozy image of one Jeffrey Combs, wrapped in a warm fuzzy sweater, biting down on a #2 pencil and drinking from a (vintage!) Coke can as he focuses all of his concentration on typing into that ancient computer that probably runs on a combination of steam and gasoline.
Here’s more old as the Bible computer machines. It looks like something Doc Brown would have in his basement. Check out the monitor colors on the right. Green background with blue writing? We honestly didn’t care about our retinas in the 80s, did we?
Here’s the psychologist Dr McMichaels played by the lovely Barbara Crampton. Those giant 80s glasses are so f**king adorable.