It’s taken us 20 years to get this one back in print, much less on DVD, but here it is, and in a restored directors cut. Oh, my pineal gland can hardly stand it!
“From Beyond” was Stuart Gordon’s follow-up to his highly influential “Re-Animator”, and like that film is based, with many liberties taken, on an H.P. Lovecraft story. This one tells the tale of Dr.’s Crawford Tillinghast (Jefferey Combs) and Edward Pretorious, who have been working on a machine called “the resonator”. One night they get it to work and it reveals, by stimulating the brain, creatures that exist around us all the time. Without the resonator they cannot see us, and we cannot see them, and thank god for that because once they do…it’s ugly, guys. Heads bitten off, translucent leeches biting faces, nasty stuff. When Tillinghast finds himself put away for the murder of Pretorious (who was in fact killed by one of the invisible creatures) it’s up to Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) and Officer Brownlee (Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree) to find out what happened. They bring Tillinghast back to the resonator to attempt to recreate the experiment that killed Pretorious and from there they discover all is not well when one of the creatures “from beyond” has eaten a head that contains the brain of a brilliant, but perverse, human.
“From Beyond” is one of the absolute best horror films of the entire 1980s. It’s a real brilliant work of storytelling, and I think, Stewart Gordon’s best film. Maybe the film never was as truly scary as it could have been (it’s certainly got it’s moments though, still) but, to this reviewer, it’s one of the most fascinating and interesting stories told in a horror film. There’s a lot of psycho-sexual, scientific jargon to take in about stimulated pineal glands, and the inner workings of a strange dimesion that exists all around us. In an lesser film, with a bad script, director and actors that could fall flat or even worse be almost incomprehensible. In “From Beyond”, it’s enthralling. Only enhancing a great script and skilled director are the performances of Jefferey Combs and Barbara Crampton. Combs plays a very nervous man, highly disturbed by the things he’s not only witnessed but helped unleash. Unlike his Herbert West, Comb’s Tillinghest is sympathetic and a victim of his own work. His work in “From Beyond” should be held with as much regard as his work in “Re-Animator”.
“From Beyond” is a witty, faced-paced, scary and, until now, a tragically little scene chapter in 80’s horror. This DVD finally gives it it’s due. For way too long this film has been passed around in bad VHS dubs at horror and fan conventions. The picture in the DVD looks damn near perfect, which is important since this is such a colorful film. Included are several brief featurettes about the making of “From Beyond”. Most interesting is the one on how the previously cut footage was found after being assumed lost for nearly 20 years. There is also a great cast and director commentary that’s energetic and funny, and makes you wish these guys were all making another movie together.