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  From Beyond Gland Out Of Hand
Year: 1986
Director: Stuart Gordon
Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ted Sorel, Ken Foree, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Bunny Summers, Bruce McGuire, Del Russel, Dale Wyatt, Karen Christenfeld, Andy Miller, John Leamer, Regina Bleesz
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Working on his machinery and electrical equipment late into the night, scientist Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs) has a "Eureka!" moment and switches on the creation of he and his mentor Dr Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) called the Resonator. This device enables a bridge between the dimensions, and as it glows into life Crawford notices the atmosphere in the room becoming markedly different. Then he sees an eel-like creature swimming in mid air around one of the prongs of the Resonator, but his interest is quickly changed to distress as it leaps forward and bites him. He switches it off and the eel vanishes, but the contact has been made - just wait until Pretorius finds out...

There was a lot of goodwill towards the filmmakers behind cult horror hit Re-Animator, including producer-writer Brian Yuzna and director-writer Stuart Gordon, who co-scripted here with the also returning Dennis Paoli. However, when it came to From Beyond there was a less than universal welcome, even though the omens were favourable. It was the same team, with some of the same actors, and again they were tackling an H.P. Lovecraft story, but this time there was something missing; the kinkiness appeared calculated this time around, the effects were too obviously rubber and the sense of humour was gone, replaced by an oddly camp earnestness.

Watching it now, it is possible to be nostalgic about From Beyond as it looks more of a product of its decade than it predecessor, in fact it looks somewhat like a relic of the video stores horror fans used to prowl back then in search of their next fix. An appropriate metaphor, as the story could be seen as an allegory of drug addiction, with the Resonator a powerful psychedelic that many of the characters cannot get enough of once it has a hold over them. Dr Pretorius (named after the Bride of Frankenstein character, but not as much fun) has the pleasure of having his head bitten off by a otherworldy thingummy, but that's not going to dissaude him from opening the doors of perception.

As Crawford is admtted to an asylum, he tells all to doctor Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton, also a Re-Animator veteran), revealing that the Resonator stimulates the pineal gland and enables one to see into another world concurrent with our own. Unlike in a Lovecraft tale, there's not much feel for vast unnameable horrors lurking outside human consciousness, chiefly because the monsters on display are unconvincingly fake, and lacking any intelligence. Even Dr Pretorius is redundant in his by-the-numbers sadomasochistic leanings, so it's up to pros Combs, Crampton and Ken Foree as a no-nonsense cop to carry the weight of the film, which they do admirably. Crampton in particular makes you wish she'd broken out as more than a cult star, and it's the sprirts of the cast that render what amounts to a hackneyed shocker tolerable. Don't get me wrong, From Beyond is entertaining to a point, but solely on a cheesy level when it could have been so much more. Music by Richard Band.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Stuart Gordon  (1947 - 2020)

American director of horror and sci-fi, who made his debut in 1985 with Re-Animator, following 15 years working in theatre in Chicago. This HP Lovecraft adaptation was a spectacular mix of chills, black comedy and inventive splatter, but while it still remains his best film, the likes of From Beyond, Dolls, The Pit and the Pendulum, Space Truckers and Dagon do have their moments. He followed these with the David Mamet adaptation Edmond and true crime-inspired Stuck. Gordon also wrote the story for the box office smash Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

 
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