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From Beyond

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Scream Factory
Dual Format BD/DVD
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Stuart Gordon
Jeffery Combs
Barbara Crampton
Ken Foree
Bottom Line: 

It wasn’t so long ago that Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond was seemingly lost to VHS, with myriad issues holding the film up in red tape limbo. The film finally surfaced on DVD in 2007 in an unrated director’s cut edition from MGM that sported a price tag taking advantage of its cult status. With MGM’s perpetual financial turmoil, however, a Region A Blu-ray didn’t look to be in the cards. Then along came Scream Factory…and, well, you know the rest!

With From Beyond, Gordon once again mined the fertile imagination of H.P. Lovecraft, and dragged the concept kicking and screaming into the modern day, populating the film with faces both familiar to Re-Animator fans (Jeffery Combs, Barbara Crampton), as well as genre enthusiasts (Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree).  The resulting film proved to be a modern gothic masterpiece back in the 1980s, but, until the aforementioned 2007 DVD release, Gordon’s true vision had remained unseen, as much “lost” footage had been recovered, and reintegrated into the film. This same director’s cut has been lovingly remastered by the folks at Scream Factory for this collector’s edition Blu-ray.

Combs stars as Crawford Tillinghast, a scientist working with the eccentric genius, Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorrel), toward illuminating a dimension that exists beyond our limited mind’s comprehension. The team has crafted a resonating device that uses sound to stimulate the human brain’s “third eye”, but, when the resonator actually reveals the creatures that live all around us in a separate space, Pretorius is seemingly devoured, and Tillinghast is left behind with his partner’s headless corpse.

Tillinghast is arrested and charged with Pretorius’ murder, but, when state assigned psychologist, Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton), suggests that the prisoner be brought back to the house where the “crime” took place, she, Tillinghast, and their police escort, Bubba (Ken Foree), return to recreate the experiment, and, in doing so, unleash horrors beyond their wildest imagination.

While not quite as giddily entertaining and off-the-wall as Re-Animator, From Beyond is a more than worthy sophomore effort from Gordon, offering much of the same in terms of over-the-top violence, gruesome creature effects, and some darkly hilarious moments. Crampton, once again, proves why she was one of horror cinema’s sexiest protagonists, and Combs is, as always, the quintessential mad scientist. Foree gets the bulk of the film’s laughs as the loveable lug, Bubba, rounding out the solid cast that inhabits Gordon’s stage.

I say stage because the director’s theatrical roots are never more apparent than they are in this film, as much of the action takes place in a single room, lit in very much the same way one would expect from a play, with sets reminiscent of a 50’s Sci-fi flick. It’s a testament to Gordon’s strength as a director, as well as to the talent of his cast, that he delivers so much when working with so little.

Scream Factory presents From Beyond in a Blu-ray/DVD Collector’s Edition combo pack featuring the company’s now-trademark reversible cover art, as well as an absolute smorgasbord of extras. The film is presented in a 1.78:1 1080p transfer that looks outstanding, taking full advantage of Gordon’s extra-vibrant color palette, and boasting a very respectable amount of fine detail and clarity. The image is crisp and clean, with only a few minor artifacts, while grain is of the controlled, filmic variety. The accompanying audio tracks – DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio and DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio – both have their strengths and weaknesses, but, this time out, I actually preferred the new 5.1 mix as From Beyond’s rather cacophonic soundscape fills the extra channels quite nicely. Most of the action is still front and center, anyway, so purists may want to give it a shot!

As for extras, Scream Factory doesn’t hold back a bit with this release. In addition to porting over ALL of the standard definition extras from the MGM DVD releases (the Stuart Gordon commentary; a featurette on the film’s “reconstruction”; interviews with Gordon and Charles Band; storyboards, and more), Scream Factory adds a host of great new content (in 1080p!), including:

-Audio Commentary with writer Denis Paoli

- MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS – A look at the film’s extensive Make-Up & Creature Effects with Special Effects Creators John Buechler, Anthony Doublin, John Naulin, and Mark Shostrom 

- PAGING DR. MCMICHAELS – An interview with Actress Barbara Crampton

- A TORTURED SOUL – An interview with Actor Jeffrey Combs 

- AN EMPIRE PRODUCTION – An interview with Executive Producer Charles Band 

Fans of 80s horror will be floored by both the quality of the transfer as well as the bountiful amount of meaningful extras included in this Collector’s Edition release of From Beyond. It’s a cult-classic whose legion of devotees continues to grow, and Scream Factory delivers what is, currently, the definitive presentation of the film. Highest recommendations!

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