#31DaysOfHorror: From Beyond (1986)

from_beyondA group of scientists have developed the Resonator, a machine which allows whoever is within range to see beyond normal perceptible reality. But when the experiment succeeds, they are immediately attacked by terrible life forms.

Oh H.P. Lovecraft, you sure do inspire the weirdest in people. From Beyond manages to feel simultaneously like a David Cronenberg film, and a spin-off of the Hellraiser series. Directed by the fabulous Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), and written by Brian Yuzna (Honey I Shrunk the Kids), Dennis Paoli (Castle Freak), and Stuart Gordon, From Beyond is a surreal body-horror film that absolutely deserves your attention.

There are two big features that make this movie work, besides of course the creative team behind it, and that is the cast and the special effects. The effects are fabulous and completely disgusting. A moment near the end during which a nurse tries to clamp a tool on something that is wiggling around in the main character’s head is really upsetting and uncomfortable, and there are effects and costumes that elicit that emotion all the way through the film. Some of the designs seem to have gone on to inspire James Gunn’s film Slither, and if you’ve seen both films then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

There is certainly an element of cheese to the special effects, but they work really well in the way that it seems only an 80’s film can. The use of practical effects is something I always admire and appreciate, and this movie has them in spades.

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From Beyond stars the fabulous and bizarre Jeffrey Combs, who featured previously in this director’s work in Re-Animator, and he brings a delightful zaniness to the movie that only Combs seems capable of bringing. He commits completely to his role, and all of the bizarre and disgusting things that forces him to do, including eating a nurses eye straight out of her head, and then drinking the blood from it. It’s… well, it’s a gross performance.

You’ve also got the wonderful Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead), and Ted Sorel (Network), all of whom do a great job bringing the impossible imagination of H.P. Lovecraft to the screen. Having not read the short story this is based on, I can’t speak to how well it represents the story, but based on other attempts at adapting Lovecraft, it absolutely ranks high in terms of being thoroughly bizarre and entertaining, and so much of that comes from each actor’s commitment to their character.

It’s clear in watching this that many of the 80’s most interesting horror filmmakers draw on a lot of inspiration from each other. I see a lot of Clive Barker present in this movie, but that could really come from a shared inspiration based on the work that H.P. Lovecraft has done. It has certainly inspired me to do a bit more reading.

From Beyond is a great, sleazy, and schlocky horror movie that many of you will have made your decisions on based on what I’ve already said. You will likely be able to look at it, and the past work of the director, and know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

My recommendation? Turn on the resonator, and get into it; this movie is absolutely fantastic.

MY RATING: ****

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