How does a director follow-up a cult-classic debut like Re-Animator? If you’re Stuart Gordon, you return to the formula that made said film such a bonafide success, and you turn it up a notch.
With his 1986 sophomore effort, From Beyond, Gordon once again mined the fertile imagination of H.P. Lovecraft, dragged the concept kicking and screaming into modern day America, and populated the film with faces both familiar to Re-Animator fans (Jeffery Combs, Barbara Crampton), and genre enthusiasts (Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree). The resulting film proved to be a modern gothic masterpiece, but, until now, Gordon’s true vision had remained unseen. With the recent discovery of “lost” footage, From Beyond has been lovingly remastered as a director’s cut DVD, and fans can finally see it the way its creator intended.
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 (Crampton), suggests that the prisoner be brought back to the house where the “crime” took place, she, Tillinghast, and their police escort, Bubba (Foree), return to recreate the experiment, and, in doing so, unleash horrors beyond their wildest dreams.
While not quite as fun and off-the-wall as Re-Animator, From Beyond is a more than worthy follow-up, 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.
The director’s cut from MGM sports a commentary by Gordon and select cast members, as well as an interview with the director, a look at the reconstruction process, the film’s original trailer, and more.