FROM BEYOND Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by Second Sight Films
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Written by H.P. Lovecraft, Brian Yuzna, Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli
1986, Region B, 86 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 25th Feb 2013
Jeffrey Combs as Crawford Tillinghast
Barbara Crampton as Dr. Katherine McMichaels
Ted Sorel as Dr. Edward Pretorius
Ken Foree as Bubba Brownlee
Every so often, a writer, artist or filmmaker comes along whose work seems to be tailor made just for you. How else would you explain the popularity of something such as Twilight, and its Mary Sue protagonist? For me, it's the work of Stuart Gordon - master of horror, Lovecraft scholar and director of some of the greatest horror movies of all time. I've never seen a Stuart Gordon movie that I haven't loved (although I have yet to see Dolls or The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit). To me, From Beyond is his greatest work.
Gordon's classic and most well known movie is Re-Animator (based on the HP Lovecraft story) but From Beyond is just as good, if not better in places. His Re-Animator collaborators Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton return, with fellow icon Ken Foree joining the fun. Combs plays scientist Crawford Tillinghast, who accidentally opens a door to another dimension while dabbling in a little mad science with colleague Pretorious (a very sleazy Ted Sorel). As they attempt to simulate the human body's sixth sense, Pretorious looks into the titular 'beyond' for a little too long, and their house becomes one giant gateway to another terrifying dimension. Tillinghast flees, where kindly doctor McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) takes on his case. Together with cool cop Bubba Brownlee (a fantastic Ken Foree) she coerces Tillinghast back to the house, hoping to make some sense of his mad babbling. Big mistake, for all involved.
No sooner have Crawford and company returned to the house than monsters erupt from the basement, Tillinghast finds himself growing what looks like a penis from his forehead, and a mutated Pretorious is making foul designs upon poor Doctor McMichaels. Amidst it all, it's only Ken Foree who retains his cool, save for a constant perplexed expression upon his moustached face. The characters in From Beyond are really put through the wringer, the film being a near constant barrage of otherworldly gore and horror. Combs is a dab hand at dealing with such terrors, but he takes a lot of abuse here – possibly the most of his career (unless you count the indignity of starring in rot such as Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation or being painted blue on Star Trek). As his shivering, naked form is picked up and cradled in Ken Foree's arms, you can't help but feel for the poor fellow.
As the previous sentence might suggest, From Beyond is the most homoerotic of Gordon's films. Or just plain erotic, as in the case of Ken Foree in his orange speedos or Barbara Crampton zipped into her S&M kit. Lovecraft the author was famed for keeping the sexuality buried below the story, bubbling away in the subtext. Not so Stuart Gordon's adaptations. From being strapped naked to a table in Re-Animator to being strapped to another table in From Beyond, the treatment of Barbara Crampton does away with any of that subtext lark. From Beyond is an incredibly sleazy piece of horror. Castle Freak (also re-released on Blu Ray this year and also heavily recommended) is more aggressive with its sexuality, but From Beyond is by far the most overtly sexual. There's something for all audiences though: Ken Foree bears the most flesh in the film, prancing around the house in a tight pair of orange speedos. As he wrestles with a lubricated, also almost-naked Jeffrey Combs, one has to wonder what infamous prude and racist HP Lovecraft would have made of all this.
The director and cast may be more well known for Re-Animator, but this will always be my favourite Stuart Gordon movie. It's over the top in every respect, from the acting to the special effects. The story – not remotely resembling the Lovecraft tale upon which it is based – moves at breakneck speed, barely stopping to catch breath. Gordon directs with confidence and verve, imbuing it with personality and his familiar sense of fun. Hardcore Lovecraft fans may baulk at Gordon's lack of reverence for the original story, and some of the effects haven't held up too well, but those are minor gripes. From Beyond is Stuart Gordon's masterpiece.
It has taken such a very long time for From Beyond to get a decent UK release. The wait has most definitely been worth it.
Video and Audio:
The Blu Ray transfer looks and sounds a real treat. From Beyond has been unavailable on DVD or Blu Ray in UK for such a long time, so it's nice to see it arrive in such style.
There's a whopping ten features to sift through, including a commentary and interviews with Gordon himself.
- Stuart Gordon on From Beyond
- Gothic Adaptation – An interview with writer Dennis Paoli
- The Doctor Is In – An interview with Barbara Crampton
- Monsters & Slime – The FX of From Beyond
- Director's Perspective
- The Editing Room – Lost and Found
- Interview with the Composer
- Commentary with Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna and Jeffrey Combs
- Photo Montage
- Storyboard to film comparison
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*