From Beyond (1986)

FROM BEYOND is one of Stuart Gordon’s body horror masterpieces.  Though co-stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton are reunited, gone is the black humor found in its predecessor RE-ANIMATOR.  FROM BEYOND is dark, bleak and nihilistic.  A mad scientist and his assistant have discovered a way to allow the humans the ability to see into another reality that is just out of phase of our own through the use of a harmonic resonance generator.

Dr. Edward Pretorious (Ted Sorel) has been trying to awaken the sixth sense through the stimulation of the pineal gland.  In doing so he has opened a doorway to a parallel universe full of strange and hostile creatures.   Pretorious is a mean spirited and abusive man who cows his milquetoast assistant Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs) and turns him into a weak and indecisive person.  Even after the accident, Pretorious holds sway over him.  When Pretorious is consumed by a creature from the other universe Crawford attacks the resonator with a fire ax.  He is blamed for the death of Pretorious and committed as insane after he relates his tale.  Dr. Kathrine McKnight (Barbara Crampton) thinks she can help cure schizophrenia by using the resonator so they return to the scene of the crime escorted by police detective Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree).

Crawford tries to explain and recreate what happened the night Pretorious lost his head as he and McKnight reactivate the resonator.  The group are attacked by small vicious creatures shortly after Crawford reactivates the resonator.  He shuts it down after they are met by an apparently alive and deformed Pretorious who explains how wonderful the other universe is.  The next morning they discuss what happened the preceding evening.  Later that day, unable to resist the urge Katherine turns the machine on again.  The trio are pressed sorely this time around with Katherine being molested by the monstrous Pretorious and Crawford is almost swallowed by a worm.  Bubba insists that they leave after he shuts off the power but Crawford is in dire shape and McKnight has found Pretorious’s S&M wardrobe.  The resonator activates itself and the trio run to the attic to turn it off.  A swarm attacks Crawford and Katherine and Bubba sacrifices himself by pushing them clear of the creatures.  Pretorious then tries to eat McKnight until Crawford fights him off.  After neutralizing the device McKnight takes the now not-quite-human Crawford to the hospital where the doctors have plans for both of them.  After escaping the hospital the pair head to the house to destroy the resonator for good.  The final battle sees Crawford consumed by Pretorious and the two then struggle over the same disgusting form.  Crawford bursts out from it and they both dissolve in a puddle.  McKnight barely escapes as a bomb explodes bringing her ordeal to an end-though the rest of the world may find her quite mad. 

The film was an Empire film shot in Italy  with DOLLS.  The exteriors will look familiar to viewers of both films.  The effects are remarkable and hold up well almost thirty years later.  The actors acquit themselves well though Jeffrey Combs seems a tad bit uncomfortable playing such a weak character.  It is a major change from his turn as Herbert West.  Barbara Crampton looks equally stunning in both lab coat and bondage wear though I know which I tend to prefer.  She plays the scientist, vivacious nymph and conflicted soul all with the greatest of ease.  

The film is presented in high definition widescreen with a choice of 5.0 and 2.0 English audio.  The colors are spectacular hues of red, purple and blue.  Special features include great new interviews with Barbara Crampton, Charles Band and Jeffrey Combs.  “Multiple Dimensions” a featurette about the effects of FROM BEYOND and the MGM features with the Stuart Gordon retrospective, the story of the restoration of the director’s cut, and an interview with Richard Band.  There is also a commentary with the cast and director.  The features are rounded out with a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer. 

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