Saturday, October 27, 2018
31 Days of Dread--Day 27
From Beyond; 1986; written by Dennis Paoli, adapted by Brian Yuzna & Dennis Paoli & Stuart Gordon, from a story by H.P. Lovecraft; directed by Stuart Gordon
Of the two H.P. Lovecraft adaptations Stuart Gordon directed in the mid-1980s, the one everybody seems to remember is Re-Animator. Maybe because getting head from a severed head really makes an impression on people. But for my VHS rental dollar, From Beyond was always the more enjoyable film.
When two scientists create a machine called a Resonator, which allows those within its range to perceive a reality beyond our own, things go wildly wrong and one, Dr. Edward Pretorius, is killed. The other, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast, is taken to a mental hospital where he meets Dr. Katherine McMichaels. When she discovers that Tillinghast's pineal gland is enlarged due to the effects of the Resonator, she returns with him to the lab in order to check out his story. Eventually she, too, falls under the machine's infernal spell and madness ensues.
Trust me, it plays a whole lot better and more smoothly than it reads.
From Beyond came out the year before Hellraiser, and preceded a lot of its story elements and themes. Both feature mechanisms that open the door to other dimensions. Within them are (former) humans whose experiences there have warped their physical bodies, and who return to our plane extolling all the other-worldly sensual pleasures to be had. And both feature some extreme body horror effects that were A-game at the time and still have the power to make you go "Eww."
Why From Beyond isn't better known and more celebrated is one of those cinematic mysteries that may never be solved. But it's possible that oversight is being corrected. After thirty-plus years in relative obscurity the film seems to be finding a new audience and greater critical appreciation. There's no sense in waiting any longer to see it, for the first time or again.
From Beyond is available on streaming rental.