AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: HP Lovecraft’s From Beyond (1986) review

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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.

From Beyond poster

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.

title card Jeffrey Combs
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.

old computers old computer monitor
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?

Barbara Crampton
Here’s the psychologist Dr McMichaels played by the lovely Barbara Crampton. Those giant 80s glasses are so f**king adorable.

Doctor smoking
Here’s a doctor administering an MRI to Jeffrey Combs’ character while giving Dr McMichaels the evil eye.  Oh, and she’s smoking.

Pretorius altered
This is an iconic image from the movie. It is Dr Pretorius after he’s been exposed to “The Resonator” for a while. He’s “evolving”.  This scene was used for the Scream Greats poster I showed you earlier this week.

Det Brownlee Det Brownlee
This is the awesome Detective Brownlee. While trapped in the house with the two doctors, “The Resonator” is turned back on in the middle of the night and the house is flooded with horrifying creatures that want to kill our heroes.  After being awoken and spying the terrible creatures, instead of getting scared the detective runs to the kitchen, grabs a knife and attacks one of the creatures by jumping on it’s back AND STABBING IT LIKE 50 TIMES wearing nothing but a red thong.  My question, did he change into that thong before bed or was he wearing the red thong THE ENTIRE TIME.

What is that?!
Det Brownlee also apparently knows how to cook. But, I have to ask. What the hell is he cooking here?

Crampton leather 01
And here’s the money shot. A nice scene in which the waves from “The Resonator” affect Dr McMichaels and cause her to try to rape Dr Tillinghast.  Oh, Ms Crampton, you naughty, naughty girl.

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And there’s a sh*t ton of beheading and/or demolishing of heads in this movie. It seems the inter-dimensional beings just love our heads.  With the doctor in The Re-animator becoming a living head, I’d say Mr Gordon has some sort of head fetish.

And that’s the movie From Beyond.  I enjoyed it.  I’d recommend it as a typical 80s horror movie but it’s also very enjoyable.  And it’s every inch a Fangoria movie.  They had every right to be enthralled by it.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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