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"It ate him... bit off his head... like a gingerbread man!",
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This review is from: From Beyond [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Dr. Pretorius has developed a machine called a resonator, it allows anyone within range to see beyond normal reality. Pretorius' assistant, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast, activates the machine and is bitten by a strange creature. Tillinghast begs Pretorius to destroy the machine, but the now insane Pretorius refuses and turns the machine back on. Tillinghast flees from Pretorius' house just as the police arrive, they arrest him and soon discover that Pretorius has lost his head, literally. Tillinghast is then locked away in a mental institution, where brilliant girl wonder, Dr. Katherine McMichaels visits to assess him. After a brain scan reveals Tillinghast has an enlarged pineal gland, Katherine believes Tillinghast is telling the truth and manages to convince her superiors to allow her to return to Pretorius' house with Tillinghast, so she can see the resonator herself and study it. Escorted by Detective Bubba Brownlee, they reach the house and turn on the machine. They are horrified to discover that Dr. Pretorius has entered the alternative reality, and is intent on taking them with him.
Jeffrey Combs is great as Tillinghast, his over the top performance really makes his character fun to watch. Just a year earlier, he starred as Herbert West in the outstanding Re-Animator. I do slightly prefer his performance in that film where he chewed the scenery even more, but he's still brilliant here. Barbara Crampton is really good as Katherine, she also starred in Re-Animator as Megan Halsey. I really liked her in Re-Animator but she's much better here and gets a lot more to do. She looks a little silly early on in the film with her wearing huge glasses, studio executives were against her being cast as she was too young for the role, the glasses were apparently to make her look older. She does however look amazing later in the film and even dresses in S&M gear, a scene that many people claim is their favourite. Combs and Crampton would later star opposite each other again in Castle Freak. Ken Foree is funny as ex-football star, Detective Bubba Brownlee. Foree is best known for his brilliant performance as Peter in George A. Romero's masterpiece, Dawn of the Dead. Foree is fun here and works well as the comic relief. Ted Sorel is threatening as Pretorius, and Carolyn Purdy-Gordon is amusing as Dr. Bloch who could not be more against Tillinghast being released. From Beyond was director Stuart Gordon's second film after Re-Animator, and what a follow up. Many people don't like From Beyond as much as Re-Animator, I personally feel they're pretty much level. Stuart Gordon actually shot the film Dolls first using the same sets in Italy, but due to all the work needed in post-production to work on the doll effects, it was released a year later. The music by Richard Band is superb, Band has provided the music for several of Gordon's films.
Like Re-Animator, From Beyond was also based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the original short story was just seven pages long, so writer Dennis Paoli was brought in to write a screenplay. Paoli has worked regularly with Stuart Gordon over the years, but other screen writing credits are Ghoulies II, Body Snatchers and The Dentist which was directed by From Beyond's producer, Brian Yuzna, who himself made the brilliant body horror film, Society. As good as the direction and performances were, it's the amazing special effects that take centre stage. There's slimy almost see-through slug creatures, big giant worms with loads of teeth, head splitting to reveal an overgrown pineal gland, body parts being lopped off, brain munching, an eyeball sucked out of someone's head so their brain can be sucked through the eye socket, and then there's Pretorius who constantly changes and evolves as the film moves along, becoming more and more grotesque. There's only one instance during the film that the effects look bad where Pretorius sprouts wings, an effect that Stuart Gordon himself has admitted to hating. There's actually not that much gore, though there's still plenty. It's grotesque and gruesome in much the same way as David Cronenberg's The Fly, which was released the same year.
I was hoping for years that From Beyond would get a proper region 2 release, and finally Second Sight stepped up to the plate. This Blu-ray looks terrific, I never imagined I'd see the film so detailed, vibrant and uncut. To my eyes, From Beyond looks fantastic and this is far and away the best the film has ever looked. Not only does it look great, but there's plenty of goodies on the disc as well. There's a really fun and informative commentary with Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs, though for some reason the box doesn't list Crampton as being on it which is strange. There's a 21 minute interview with Gordon, a 16 minute interview with Paoli, a 15 minute interview with Crampton, a 20 minute feature about the effects, another 9 minute interview with Gordon, a 5 minute feature about the lost footage that was later found, a 5 minute interview with composer Richard Band, a photo montage and storyboard to film comparison. It also has a lovely cardboard slipcase cover.