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John’s Horror Corner: From Beyond (1986), gazing across dimensions into the delightfully gory, spiritual sequel to Re-Animator (1985).

October 21, 2020

MY CALL: Essentially, if Dr. Herbert West (Re-Animator) had a twin brother who became a physicist—this is that movie. Fast-paced, spectacularly gruesome creature effects, gross chunky gore, and an interesting story. This is one of the 80s greats that is discussed far too little. MORE MOVIES LIKE From Beyond: If this level of gore completes you, I’d recommend any of Brian Yuzna’s other gory fair (e.g., Society, Bride of Re-Animator, Beyond Re-Animator, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, Faust, Return of the Living Dead III) or the work of Stuart Gordon (e.g., Dolls, Dagon, Re-Animator). Also please strongly consider Color Out of Space (2019) and In the Mouth of Madness (1994) to be top priority recommendations if you’re a fan of Lovecraftian films.

MORE LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR MOVIES:  For more Lovecraftian adaptations, try Screamers (1979; aka Island of the Fishmen, Something Waits in the Dark and L’isola degli uomini pesce), Re-Animator (1985), Bride of Re-Animator (1990), Beyond Re-Animator (2003), From Beyond (1986), The Unnamable (1988), The Unnamable 2: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1992), The Resurrected (1991), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Lurking Fear (1994), Dagon (2001), Dreams in the Witch-House (2005), Color Out of Space (2019) and The Dunwich Horror (1970). And although not specifically of Lovecraftian origins, his influence is most palpable in Prince of Darkness (1987), In the Mouth of Madness (1994), The Void (2016), The Shrine (2010), Baskin (2015) and Cold Skin (2017)—most of which are on the more gruesome side to varying degrees.

This movie wastes no time at all. We open to find Miskatonic University-reared physicist Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs; Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, Re-Animator, Would You RatherThe FrightenersLurking FearCellar Dweller) in a room filled wall-to-wall with computers and switch panels and large mechanical devices you’d find in a physics laboratory. He is preparing to conduct some kind of experiment to which end he observes a floating spectral eel of sorts until, well, the pink slimy veiny little thing bites his face! Like any scientist faced with a breakthrough, Crawford completely ignores the fact that his face was almost eaten by an interdimensional fish monster and awakens his boss Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel; Basket Case 2) so they can run the simulation again… and then even weirder crap happens and I’m pretty sure Pretorius is stricken with a sort of ego-driven Lovecraftian madness which he perceives from beyond. Essentially, if Dr. Herbert West (Re-Animator) had a twin brother who became a physicist—this is that movie.

Arrested and placed in a psychiatric ward after the death of his mentor during their experiment, Crawford is examined by psychiatrist Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton; Re-Animator, Beyond the GatesYou’re NextLords of SalemChopping MallWe Are Still Here). Believing that Crawford is actually not crazy, she has him released into her custody to recreate the experiment at the Pretorius house in order to prove his innocence. Police Sgt Bubba (Ken Foree; Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Dawn of the Dead, Death Spa) accompanies and assists to keep an eye on Crawford, and his presence brings some levity.

As the experiments progress, Crawford, Bubba and Katherine all are clearly affected; two fearful, but one drawn to the allure of the resonator device like a rat to a Skinner Box as Pretorius manipulates them from another dimension.

These experiments bring about strange horrors that harken The Thing (1982) in terms of transcending conventionally understood biological forms and utterly disgusting, gore-flinging grossness. We witness visions of Pretorius from beyond except he’s not quite himself… more melty and malformed with every subsequent appearance. Slimy tentacles abound. There’s even a monster that looks like a Dune (1984) sandworm and a LOT of attempted head-eating by monsters! These special effects are awesome. Like, REALLY AWESOME!

Bubba’s death scene is a great gag complete with trembling, chunky, flesh-stripped limbs after he is decimated by an other-worldly swarm of pestilence. And all the special effects build to something truly gross, totally unexpected and visually spectacular.

It should come as no surprise that this film was the product of an 80s horror dream team. This is among director Stuart Gordon’s (Dolls, The Pit and the Pendulum, Dagon, King of the Ants, Re-Animator) 80s triumphs. Adapting Lovecraft’s story was screenplay co-writer and producer Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator, Beyond Re-Animator, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, Faust, Return of the Living Dead III), another champion of 80s gore and Lovecraftian fare. Also behind this classic were producer Charles Band (Prison, Dolls, Parasite, Meridian, Doctor Mordrid, Head of the Family) and music composer Richard Band (Parasite, Mutant, Ghoulies, Puppet Master, Re-Animator, Bride of Re-Animator).

Fast-paced, spectacularly gruesome creature effects and gross gore, and an interesting story, this film is one of the 80s greats that is discussed far too little. This movie is awesome! If you haven’t seen it, go remedy that. Better yet, just buy it. You’re welcome.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2020 9:41 am

    From Beyond is a fantastic slice of 80’s horror. A terrific goriest with amazing SFX, this one is a must see for horror fans!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 26, 2020 7:32 pm

      And so very many FX scenes, too.

  2. rdfranciswriter permalink
    October 22, 2020 11:50 am

    I went to the theater to see this and loved it. My only disappointment — and i thought for sure that it would — tie into Re-Animator in some way . . . that Dr. Carl Hill and Pretorius were somehow related or co-workers (since both films dealt with pokin’ ’round the brain). Or — as you pointed out — Tillinghast were cousins or long-lost twins.

    In the end: They just don’t make ’em like this anymore. No CGI boondoggle can compare. And I really enjoyed Gordon’s Dagon!!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 25, 2020 2:36 pm

      I wonder if Richard Stanley’s upcoming follow-up to Color Out of Space may include something from From Beyond…

  3. rdfranciswriter permalink
    October 26, 2020 10:35 am

    You know . . . I STILL haven’t watched it? And I love Hardware and Dust Devil. it’s good to see Stanley back to making narrative films. Dr. Moreau really stalled his career…. Thanks for reminding me to bookmark this one to watch.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 26, 2020 7:32 pm

      I strongly recommend you remedy this forthwith. 😉

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