From Beyond – Blu-ray review
By Brian M. Sammons
Director: Stuart Gordon
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ted Sorel, Ken Foree
After director Stuart Gordon made a certified horror, splatter, black comedy, cult hit with Re-Animator, he tried to see if lightning would strike the same place twice by not only doing another Lovecraft flick, but teaming up with half of the Re-Animator cast once more for From Beyond. While I don’t think it reaches the splatastic heights of the previous movie, it is still a slice of gory, groovy, and sexy 80s fun that I love to pieces and now, thanks to the mad scientist over at Scream Factory, it is out on Blu-ray for the very first time. Is this another must buy from the factory of screams, or is this a sad misstep best forgotten? Well get ready for the ultraviolet and the ultraviolent, we’re going Beyond.
The lecherous, sadistic, brilliant but creepy Dr. Edward Pretorius and his assistant Crawford Tillinghast, who is far more sympathetic here than he was in H. P. Lovecraft’s original tale, have created a machine that allows anyone in close proximity of it to see beings “from beyond.” That is, extra dimensional critters that exists alongside with us, but just out of phase of our feeble five senses. Unfortunately when the machine is switched on, it also allows those beasties to see us, as Dr. Pretorius soon leans when he has his head bit off “like a gingerbread man” by one particularly big bad nasty from the other side. Crawford smashes the machine and lives to tell the tale, unfortunately for him he’ll only be telling his story to the shirks at the local asylum.
Jeffrey “Herbert West from Re-Animator” Combs plays Crawford as a muddled and possibly murderous mad scientist, but one who at heart is a good guy. His young and attractive psychologist, played by fellow Re-Animator alumnus Barbara Crampton, doesn’t believe his crazy stories of monsters, but she really wants to help him out. Too bad for everyone, her idea of “helping” is to take Crawford back to Pretorius’ mansion to force him to face his fears. Oh and since being alone with a possibly homicidal madman isn’t all that bright, she brings along one big, bad cop in Ken “Dawn of the Dead” Foree.
Once back at the scene of the crime the trio soon learns that the ghost of Dr. Edward Pretorius isn’t completely gone. I won’t ruin the story by giving you the specifics, but let’s just say that the kinky doctor is still around and yet is something both far more and less than human. Even with the Pretorius-thing stuck on the other side of the “beyond” barrier, it can still influence our world in a number of ways, and that includes remotely operating his resonator machine. That allows all sorts of Lovecraftian horrors to come slithering into our reality, not to mention the big bad beastie to get its slimy tentacles on some nubile new flesh to play with. Cue some kinky sex games, as the hum of the resonator stimulates everyone in a whole bunch of nifty ways, a cavalcade of very Lovecraftian looking monsters popping into and out of our reality, a gruesome death or two, and awesome alien effects as the Pretorius-thing never looks the same way twice whenever it pops up to say hello.
As for the features and extras that come with this new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, there is a director and cast audio commentary track with the screenwriter, Dennis Paoli that comes directly from the last DVD release. But less you get too worried, there are lots of new goodies to be found on here as well. There is a featurette on the make-up and creature effects called “Multiple Dimensions” that runs 23 minutes. There are a couple of new interviews on this Blu-ray, a thirteen minute one with the still lovely Barbara Crampton called “Paging Dr. McMichaels” and a nearly 18 minute long interview with the always entertaining Jeffrey Combs called “A Tortured Soul.” There is a short, five minute interview with producer Charles Band called “an Empire Productions.” “The Director’s Perspective” is a nine minute interview with director Stuart Gordon. A five minute special called “The Editing Room: Lost and Found” has Gordon and the movies editor talking about some of the scenes that were cut from the theatrical version of From Beyond and how those scenes were put back into this director’s cut. The last of the interviews on here is from the composer, Richard Band that runs not quite five minutes. There is a storyboard to film comparison that comes in multiple parts and is narrated by Stuart Gordon. Lastly the usual trailer and photo gallery can also be found on this new Blu-ray.
From Beyond is a gem of a movie and a prime example of why the 1980s is my favorite decade for horror flicks. It is made with a ton of style and by people with an appreciation for the source material. If you have yet to see From Beyond then do so with all haste, as you’re really missing out on something special. Consider this one Beyond highly recommended. It’s a mandatory must have so be sure to pick it up when it comes out March 26th.