Posted February 15, 2013 by Stephen Lillie in DVD/Blu-ray
 
 

From Beyond


By Steve Lillie – From Beyond is one of the many films adapted from the work of H P Lovecraft.

By Steve Lillie

From Beyond is one of the many
films adapted from the work of H P Lovecraft.
He gets
top billing as the creators’ of the film were keen to declare their
inspiration, associate themselves with the Eldritch cool of the astral void,
and placate Yog-Sothoth. HPL has had a huge influence on the horror genre
(although he is more literally a science fiction author) partly because of his
incredible imagination, breadth of vision, highly stylized writing, his bleak
nihilism, but also because he’s out of copyright.

The
basic premise of the typical Lovecraft tale is that if the human mind is
exposed to the terrifying vistas of reality it will go mad! In From Beyond (not
From Behind as it was called in Italy) the scientists Tillinghast and Pretorius
have created a machine that opens the third eye (the pineal gland) allowing
them to see Beyond! The limited senses of humans are expanded to perceive
things normally invisible, and if you can see them they can see you…

Although
adapted from the (very) short story the film soon goes it’s own way. In fact
the events in the HPL story are covered before the titles come up. HPL is
rather tricky to adapt to the screen and stay completely faithful to the source
material and there is no reason to attempt this. From Beyond includes elements
and themes from HPL but also goes in directions he would never explore, such as
women and the erotic. It’s Lovecraft by name and
by nature. Having said that, From Beyond holds onto the core idea of the story
and runs with it; runs into a crazy world of lurid fauvist acid trips and brain
eating.

You
don’t get many films like this. A sort of cross between John Carpenter’s The Thing
and Ken Russell’s Altered States. The retina shocking
psychedelic lighting perfectly adds a feeling of other worldliness to the
scenes with the Beyond machine. It is a shame that the budget didn’t extend to
showing us more of the landscape of Beyond. But we get to see plenty, maybe
more than your human mind would like to.

Directed
by Stuart Gordon, who brings with
him his favorite acting talents from that other HPL classic, Re-Animator. As a
fan of HPL Mr Gordon has also made Re-Animator 2, Beyond Re-Animator, Bride of
Re-Animator, Son of Re-Animator, The Revenge of Re-Animator, Re-Animator’s
Bogus Journey, and The Dunwich Horror. There’s no denying that this is a
surreal gore fest of a film, but it is well directed with some nice
performances.

Jeffery Combs
(Tillinghast) is an icon of these films and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in
his role. Having said that this is a switch around from his typical part as he
is playing the “sane” scientist, who is a victim of events. In another switch
around Barbara Crampton (Dr
Katherine McMichaels) is the mad scientist and has a more active role than
usual. Interviewed in the DVD extras she declares this as her favorite role.
Although far too young for the character, you quickly forgive this as she
clearly relishes the role and makes it work. Ted Sorel (Dr Pretorius) is also worth a mention. He certainly
captures the creepy demeanor of a man with unhealthy appetites.

This
DVD/Blu-ray release has, for the first time, been lovingly restored. The scenes
cut by the censors from the cinema release have been digitally conjured back to
life from previously lost working footage. Arguably the best of its genre, it’s
heartwarming to see this film restored to it’s full gory glory.


Stephen Lillie