H.P. Lovecraft is a beloved name in horror. His stories are legendary as dark moody pieces that allow the readers imagination to run wild. Many films have been inspired by his works, however it seems that few are able to capture the right feel. But Lovecraft definitely has a friend in Stuart Gordon. Gordon’s Re-Animator was his take on the Herbert West character and horror fans rejoiced. Deciding to take another chance on H.P.’s works, Gordon decided to take a chance and do From Beyond. But would he have the same success the second time around? Let’s take a look…
Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) has just inherited a new patient, Dr Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs). It seems the good doctor’s mentor, Dr. Edward Pretorius, had created a machine called the Resonator. You see there are always nasty, evil monsters around us at all time. It’s just they can’t see us and we can’t see them. But the moment the Resonator is turned on that all changes. Then everyone can see everyone and these monsters have one thing on their minds: eating our minds. After a mishap with the Resonator, Tillinghast is left locked up in an asylum and Pretorius is left without his head. It is now McMichaels’ job to determine if Tillinghast is insane or telling the truth. She decides to take Crawford back to the house where the accident happened. Along with the help of a cop named Bubba (Ken Foree), Katherine hopes to spark some memories in Crawford to find out just what happened that left Pretorius headless. What will they find out? What really happens when the Resonator is turned on? The answers just might come From Beyond.
God bless Stuart Gordon. He is just one sick, perverted man. How many movies combine intense gore effects, leather sex fetishes, and third eyes? He really knows that gross things tend to scare people. He is one of the few extremely visceral filmmakers that make over the top gore good not be cheesy. Yeah some of the visuals may make you laugh but it is more of a nervous laugh. This movie, much like Re-Animator, is loaded with gore. Whereas we don’t get as many bodies being ripped apart or sliced and diced, here we get to see gooey, slimy monsters that our nightmares are made of. The creatures no doubt bring forth thoughts of the monster effects from John Carpenter’s The Thing. When you think of when this film was made the effects hold up quite well. But what really is amazing here is that Gordon holds together a movie that really has no plot. It is an extremely fast paced movie that flies by in 85 minutes. It doesn’t feel rushed at all and the pacing is near perfect.
The acting here for a low budget gross out movie is excellent as well. As always Jeffrey Combs shines as the whacked out doctor who instead of losing his mind more or less gains another one. He plays egotistical, yet stupid doctors as good as anyone. Barbara Crampton really handles being the nerdy doctor turned sex kitten quite well also. Even with the big 80s hair she still is able to generate some sexual heat. And who can forget Ken Foree as Bubba. Easily best known for his role in Dawn of the Dead, Foree is solid as the cop who knows nothing about science and he is kind of the common sense of the group.
Gore movies tend to be hit or miss. For every Dead Alive there is a Nail Gun Massacre. They either get it right and the gore makes you want to laugh or puke, or they get it way wrong and the movie makes you want to fail asleep or at least fast forward to the next gross out. Stuart Gordon definitely gets it right. From Beyond may be brainless but he knows that too and we are all in on the joke. This film is entertaining and fun yet delivers the goods when it comes to the blood and guts. Fans of Re-Animator and Gordon will delight in this juicy film. Hopefully with the positive buzz surrounding his most recent release, Dagon, we will be seeing more of this Chicago native in the horror genre soon. I think even Lovecraft would be as happy with this one as I was. 8 out of 10.