After the success of Re-Animator, a gooey and imaginatively depraved adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story Herbert West—Reanimator, filmmaker Stuart Gordon reunited with eccentric leading man Jeffrey Combs, adventurous starlet Barbara Crampton, and savvy producer Brian Yunza to return to similar territory. The resulting movie, From Beyond, is probably even more faithful to that netherworld of Lovecraft’s fiction, where otherworldly monsters lurk just under the fabric of our reality. Mad scientist Dr. Pretorious (Ted Sorel) and his assistant Crawford Tillinghast (Combs) create a machine called The Resonator that allows humans to tap into an alternate universe of gooey, tentacle-sprouting creatures. After the experiment goes wrong and only Crawford is left alive and borderline insane, a psychiatrist (Crampton) and police detective (Ken Foree) attempt to figure out exactly what happened the night Pretorious dipped into the sixth dimension. The functional plot and Gordon’s non-flashy directorial style aren’t what make From Beyond such a memorable cult item; as with Re-Animator, it’s more the audacity of staging elaborate sequences that mix up steamy sexual proclivities and monster madness. Crampton’s character moves from a prim librarian type to a S&M dominatrix, and Combs starts out preppy and normal but by the climax is bald, bloodied, and spouting an enlarged pituitary gland jutting out of his forehead that has a mind of its own. From Beyond is too well acted and boldly thought through to be considered schlock horror, and makes a strong case for the fact that good taste doesn’t always equal good movies.
- Empire Pictures
- 86 min
- Stuart Gordon
- Dennis Paoli
- Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree, Ted Sorel, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon
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