Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

From Beyond (1986)

...aka: H.P. Lovecraft's From Beyond
...aka: Resonator

Directed by:
Stuart Gordon

While many claim this isn't quite up to the same team's more famous cult classic RE-ANIMATOR (1985), I think it's nearly as good. Again, it's very loosely based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft (a man who was certainly ahead of his time) and there's a solid scientific foundation laid out before the film ventures into more exploitative and unpredictable territory. At a secluded mansion, Dr. Edward Pretorious (Ted Sorel) and his assistant Crawford Tillinghast (Re-Animator star Jeffrey Combs, given a slightly more restrained role here... at least for awhile), have developed a "sonic resonator" to tap into another dimension. It works, unleashing a variety of ghoulish demons, one of which bites Pretorious' head off and transforms him into a nasty otherworldly mutant naked to the human eye and intent on finding "the ultimate pleasure." After Pretorious' dead body is discovered, Crawford is blamed for the murder and sent off to a mental asylum for awhile. Reserved doctor Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton, also from RE-ANIMATOR and given a more substantial part here) eventually shows up to try to help him prove his innocence. They, along with cop Buford "Bubba" Brownlee (Dawn of the Dead's Ken Foree) go to the mansion to recreate the experiment and then things take a turn for the even weirder. Combs develops a phallic, pineal "third eye" that pops out of his forehead and allows him to see into the alternate dimension and Crampton becomes a psychotic, sex-starved dominatrix. The director's wife, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, co-stars as a bitchy doctor.

Well acted by the leads, directed with flair and filled with interesting concepts and special effects, this was a victim of heavy censor cuts during its initial release but still remains a gruesome, humorous, inventive and outrageous 80s treat which should please the majority of horror fans. The very set-bound looking house where the majority of the film takes place and colorful lighting even give this a comic-book like feel at times. The executive producer was Charles Band and Richard Band provided the score. The 2007 MGM DVD release restored all the missing footage, including a grisly scene where Combs sucks brain out of the empty eye socket!

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