From Beyond DVD Review
Written by Peter West
DVD released by MGM Home Entertainment
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Written by H.P. Lovecraft (short story), Dennis Paoli (screenplay)
1986, Region 1 (NTSC), 86 minutes, Unrated
DVD released on September 11th, 2007
Jeffrey Combs as Crawford Tillinghast
Barbara Crampton as Dr. Katherine McMichaels
Ken Foree as Buford 'Bubba' Brownlee
Ted Sorel as Dr. Edward Pretorius
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon as Dr. Bloch
Bunny Summers as Neighbor Lady
"Humans are such easy prey!"
MGM press release: H.P. Lovecraft’s classic tale of suspense became “a grisly amalgam of sex, shock and satire” (Newsweek) in the hands of the creators of Re-animator. And now, armed with shocking never-before-seen footage and special features and on DVD for the first time, this “bloody good entertainment” (Time) has evolved into one of the most gruesomely riveting film experiences of all time! The Resonator, a powerful machine that can control the sixth sense, has killed its creator and sent his associate into an insane asylum. But when a beautiful psychiatrist becomes determined to continue the experiment, she unwittingly opens the door to a hostile parallel universe…and to the deviant behavior within the human psyche. With its victims becoming creatures who feed on – and become aroused by – human brains, the Resonator is the ultimate man-made monster. And now something’s gone horribly wrong and no one can turn it off!
Shortly after I watched Re-animator, I see this VHS with the tagline "Humans are such easy prey!", a distorted face and the words "H.P. Lovecraft's". That's all I needed to grab it to watch that evening. Wow was this film different... Having read all of Lovecraft's works, I knew From Beyond as an obscure short story, only a few pages long... Gordon and Yuzna took this little known work and made it into one of the biggest cult films of all time! Wanting to capitalize on the success of Re-animator they brought back the pairing of Combs and Crampton and reversed their roles of protagonist and victim. Combs goes from the brilliantly insane Herbert West to the suffering Crawford Tillinghast who wants nothing more to do with experiment and Crampton's innocent victim Megan Halsey becomes the driven Dr. Katherine McMichaels who'll stop at nothing in her scientific pursuits. The result is probably the best adaptation of Lovecraft that's ever been brought to the big screen!
Any reader of Lovecraft knows that there's really no sex or relationships with women in any of his writings. I've often said he would turn over in his grave if he ever saw Re-animator or From Beyond. While Re-animator does have it's sexual moments, From Beyond cranks it up to another level. Watching Barbara Crampton go from this straight laced scientist to a lustful vixen in leather is IMHO her greatest role as an actress... Speaking of great performances, Jeffrey Combs and Ken Foree do some of their best work in From Beyond. As I mentioned earlier with the reversal of roles for Combs, you really feel for him in From Beyond... He does have his moments later when completely transformed by The Resonator, he starts sucking out brains after first disposing of his victim's eyeball to vacate the socket... Ken Foree has his most in-depth role since Dawn of the Dead with his portrayal of Bubba Brownlee. Playing a cop (something he's done a few times since), Ken adds a lot of humor to this otherwise "dark" film. I was disappointed he wasn't included on the commentary since he had such a large role in the film...
So the long wait for From Beyond is now over... For years it's been at the top of the list of many horror fan's most wanted releases. While Re-animator was initially released on DVD back in 1998, we've had to endure a nine year wait for it's companion film from the Gordon-Yuzna duo. Was it worth the wait? I say yes! MGM has given us a spectacular release, great pic, deleted scenes, a good helping of extras. Checking out some DVD stores, I see From Beyond is at the #1 spot for sales last week. I say get this great flick ASAP, you won't be disappointed!
Video and Audio:
Presented in a anamorphic 1.85:1, From Beyond was remastered into HD and looks probably even better than when it was originally released. I watched this upconverted to 1080i on my 55" HDTV and I was totally blown away by how good this looks. Maybe the long wait for this film was worth it?
From Beyond has only a Dolby 2.0 Surround track derived from the film's Ultra Stereo original track. As I normally do for non 5.1 tracks, I listened to it in THX Cinema mode. Richard Band's incredible talent really brings out the chills in this one. While not as good as the one he did for Re-animator, it does keep you on edge for this fast moving flick!
MGM has given us more than I really expected. Here's a list of the extras:
- From Beyond Unrated Special Features:
- “The Director’s Perspective” featurette
- “The Editing Room: Lost and Found” featurette
- Interview with composer
- Photo montage
- Storyboard to Film Comparisons w/ introduction
- Deleted scenes:
Appearance of Dr. Pretorus
Death of Bubba
Katherine Frees Herself
As well as those listed, there's a commentary track with Stuart Gordon, Brian Yunza, Jeffrey Combs and of course the lovely Barbara Crampton. It's up there with the one for Re-animator for laughs and giggles. You won't be wasting your time listening to it!
Films that Peter West reviews are played on a Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi DVD player, viewed on a Mitsubishi WS-55413 HDTV and listened to on a THX Ultra 2 Pioneer Elite VSX-59TXi A/V Receiver through a 7.1 setup of JBL Northridge E series Speakers.