Director – Stuart Gordon
Cast – Jeffrey Combes, Barabara Crampton, Ken Foree, Ted Sorel, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Bunny Summers
Release Year – 1986
Reviewed by John of the Dead
One year after director Stuart Gordon, Producer Brian Yuzna, horror actor Jeffrey Combes, and writer Dennis Paoli gave us one of horror’s sweetest flicks, the H. P. Lovecraft adapted “Re-Animator”, the quadruplets gave us another awesome H. P. Lovecraft adaptation titled “From Beyond”. It is unfortunate that so many adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft’s amazing work have come out as utter trash, but when it comes to these guys they do Lovecraft the right way with lots of gore and quirky humor; two elements guaranteed to please all horror fans. If you are looking for a fun horror flick then you are on the right track. Keep reading.
Jeffrey Combes stars are Crawford Tillinghast, a scientist who’s partner Dr. Edward Pretorious(Ted Sorel) was killed during one of their experiments regarding stimulation of the pineal and it’s ability to open alternate dimensions. The incident left Jeffrey Combes in a fragile mental state and he has since been institutionalized in a mental health facility. Up and coming hotshot Dr. Katherine McMichaels(Barbara Crampton) has been studying the work Crawford was doing before institutionalization and manages to get him released from the hospital…on the condition that he shows her his work and what happened the night of the deadly incident. After trying unsuccessfuly to get Katherine to reconsider due to the danger involved, Crawford runs the experiment again and exposes Katherine and her counterpart Buford “Bubba” Brownlee (“Dawn of the Dead”s Ken Foree) to what drove him mad so many years prior. Things get worse when the alternate dimension is opened as it brings in a powerful force that is getting stronger and stronger each time the device is used. As if things could not get any worse, the effect on the pineal gland of those exposed to the experiment is mentally pleasing, and the desire to venture deeper and deeper into the alternate dimension proves to be a very bad decision.
This film is just plain cool. Right from the beginning this film takes off and doesn’t let up the great special effects or awesome carnage throughout it’s perfectly paced 86 minute runtime. This is thanks much in part to the visually stimulating scenes we get of the awesome creature effects mentioned and the filmmaker’s decision to not bore the crap out of you with needless scenes. I really do enjoy Stuart Gordon’s early work in his career. His stuff was gory with live-action effects, and he always managed to get Jeffrey Combes in his flicks. Lately I have not been impressed with his work, however he has already etched himself in horror lore with these awesome 80s flicks and the 1995 flick “Castle Freak“.
The story for this film isn’t the most complex of stories, but it really was an interesting one because it gave us a sub-genre we don’t get too much in the horror realm. I have seen a few flicks with this use of alternate dimensions, one being David Cronenber’s “Videodrome”(which I have a review for). This definitely had a Cronenberg feel to it, and if I were to have channel surfed onto this flick without any prior knowledge of it I would have thought Cronenberg did this himself due to it’s sexual nature. Normally you don’t see too much sexual stuff thrown into Gordon’s flicks, but this film had a strong sexual element and it worked perfectly for the what the film aimed to do. The flick is about the horror’s of seeking pleasure and becoming and addict to it. It corrupts you, and alters your judgment, which can lead to deadly consequences. Nicely done.
There is nothing I really did not like about this film. The third act lost it a little bit in the middle of it’s movement but picked up whatever it lost at the end with it’s awesome conclusions. Quite honestly, this film has one of horror’s greatest climaxes ever. If I ever do a “Top 25 Horror Climaxes of All Time”(which I DO plan on doing)…this film is sure to make the list.
Overall, this is an awesome film that I suggest to all fan’s of the Gordon-Combes-Yuzna-Peioli work on H. P. Lovecraft’s adaptations and to anyone who would like to see a fun an interesting horror flick.