FROM BEYOND (1986)
Running Time: 86 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie – Official HCF Artist
The 1980’s were a dream for fans of gory and gooey horror films with makeup effects, rather than CGI, being used to thrill the audience. Directors such as Sam Raimi, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg and George Romero all contributed genre classics throughout this decade.
Following up on the success of the hugely enjoyable Reanimator and with a significantly larger budget, Stuart Gordon revisits HP Lovecraft’s work with From Beyond. It features all the winning ingredients of Reanimator including mad scientists, unholy creatures, gore, laughs and damsels in undress….. I mean distress.
The story begins with two scientists attempting to stimulate the pineal gland with a mysterious device called The Resonator. Dr Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) is the creator of the device that allows those within range to glance into other dimensions. Pretorius is arrogant, narcissistic and eager to push forward with the experiments. His assistant, Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs) is more reserved and warns that they should tread more carefully after a close encounter with a flying, slug-like creature.
After complaints of strange noises by neighbours, the police find Tillinghast fleeing the building with an axe in his hand. Pretorius is found decapitated in the laboratory with the blame being placed on his work colleague. Tillinghast is rushed to a mental hospital and is treated by the beautiful, Dr Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton). After listening to his story, a brain scan reveals that the scientist’s pineal gland has indeed grown to an abnormal size. McMichaels returns to the laboratory with the scientist and Detective Brownlee (Ken Foree) to inspect the Resonator. When the device is activated, Pretorius appears but is made out of some sort of protoplasmic matter. He informs Bubba, Crawford and Katherine that there is a world that exists that is more pleasurable than our own reality. When he attacks them, Tillinghast manages to shut temorarily turn off the power. Rather than take the scientist’s advice, McMichaels returns to the Resonator keen to experience the addictive effects of its power. A deformed Edward returns from beyond, rips off her clothes and attempts to devour her mind. Meanwhile Bubba and Crawford run to the basement to shut off the power for good but are attacked by a huge and rather grumpy, worm monster. Although they succeed in cutting the power supply, Tillinghurst is badly wounded. His pineal gland swells to such a proportion that it pops out of his head like a finger. McMichaels realises that the Resonator must be destroyed before Pretorius finds a way to open the portal for good.
From Beyond is a blast. It is short, hilarious and gruesome fun. There might be very little scares on offer but the story always holds your interest with a plethora of icky, imaginative creatures crawling around. The film rushes through at break-neck speed with almost no time to stop and take breath.
There are also some memorable sequences. For the men, we get to see the lovely Barbara Crampton dressing up in a selection of leather S&M gear and for the ladies, they get to see Ken Foree prance about in his tight, red pants. Ted Sorel also gets to use his expandable fingers to do something very naughty indeed to the naked Crampton. Jeffrey Combs is always a blast and really hams it up in the final quarter when he gets to suck eyeballs and chomp brains.
From Beyond is a welcoming return to the glory days of horror. It is the perfect companion for a night in with a six-pack and dodgy curry.