Director Stuart Gordon has always been one of my favourite genre filmmakers. Overall his body of work contains a versatility and wild imagination I’ve always gravitated towards. Re-Animator still remains as the highlight of his career. Gordon’s follow-up, From Beyond arrived a year later. It’s as good of a sophomore film as one could ever hope for. Like Re-Animator, it’s a H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. From Beyond manages to be even more demented.
It’s about another obsessive scientist Dr. Pretorius (the wonderfully unhinged Ted Sorel), his assistant Crawford Tillinghast (the always engaging Jeffrey Combs) and “The Resonator”, a machine designed to stimulate the brain’s pineal gland which in turn opens ups powers of the mind. Like all mad scientists in movies, they go too far and unleash creatures from a parallel universe, as well as turning Pretorius into a deformed, hideous monster. When it comes to Lovecraft, no one handles his material better than Stuart Gordon. As grotesque as the film increasingly gets, it never once becomes mean-spirited. There’s a sense of fun, free-spirited inventiveness going on here that makes From Beyond such a compelling watch…time and time again. Gordon has a firm, confident hand on the film’s tone in the same manner he featured in Re-Animator. The horror and humour are juggled together so effortlessly. Very few genre pictures succeed in getting both to intertwine so cohesively.
Gordon is helped immensely by his game cast which also includes Barbara Crampton (another Re-Animator carry-over) and Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead). The unlikely trio of Combs, Crampton and Foree exude chemistry. They’re completely in tune with the picture’s vibe and seem to be having a blast with the material. It’s one of the film’s many surprises. From Beyond establishes a go-for-broke attitude from the get-go and never lets up. There’s no way of knowing where Gordon will take you next.
The stylish cinematography in From Beyond has always resonated with me. Every time “The Resonator” is turned on, a colourful EC comic-style aesthetic appears, conveying a trippy, otherworldly atmosphere. Body horror aficionados will marvel at the creativity of the still amazing special effects work. From Beyond is a hard film to explain to the average viewer. It’s the type of film that you just have to experience for yourself. It remains to this day one of the most entertaining and boldly original pieces of genre cinema. 4.5/5 Skulls
I couldn’t be more surprised with how good Second Sight’s MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer looks. The print is in pretty pristine shape. The rich colour palette is bolder than ever. Detail is also better than expected. From Beyond was always an attractive-looking film and the video here highlights these attributes more so than ever.
This disc comes with two audio options: PCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Both are satisfying for different reasons. PCM Stereo presents the film as it was during its initial run which will no doubt satisfy purists. In most cases this is the one I’ll lean towards but in From Beyond’s case, I prefer the 5.1 track. While the majority of the sound design leans towards the frontend, there are moments that the rear is utilized effectively such Pretorius’ booming voice. The surrounds is mostly reserved for Richard Band’s effective score. The bass in the music is punchier than a lot of genre titles from the 80’s. Lossless audio enhances the soundtrack like never before. Overall, this track makes for a much more involving experience.
Special Features (3.5/5)
All of the supplements from the very fine MGM DVD which included a commentary track with Gordon, Yuzna, Combs and Crampton are present. In addition, we get four solid new featurettes: Stuart Gordon on From Beyond (21 mins.), Gothic Adaptation – An Inteview with Writer Dennis Paoli (16mins.), The Doctor Is In – An Interview with Barbara Crampton (14 mins.), Monsters & Slime – The FX of From Beyond (21 mins.) They’re essentially talking head interviews with clips thrown in there on occasion but there‘s enough fresh tidbits throughout to spark a fan’s interest.
From Beyond’s long overdue HD treatment was well worth the wait. This UK region 2-locked release comes a full month before Scream Factory’s highly anticipated edition. Like they did last year with the terrific The Return of the Living Dead and Basket Case trilogy Blu-ray releases, Second Sight has set the bar high. Everything from the MGM DVD including the unrated director’s cut has been carried over plus we get an additional 70 minutes plus of worthy new featurettes. Most importantly, the A/V in this Second Sight Blu-ray is as good as this film will likely ever look and sound so anything less from Scream Factory will be a disappointment. If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience the eccentric delights From Beyond has to offer, there is no better time than the present.
Second Sight will be releasing the Scanners Trilogy on Blu-ray on April 8th.
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