From Beyond Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Written by Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna
1986, Region A, 86 minutes, Unrated
Blu-ray released on March 26th, 2013
Jeffrey Combs as Crawford Tillinghast
Barbara Crampton as Dr. Katherine McMichaels
Ken Foree as Bubba Brownlee
Ted Sorel as Dr. Edward Pretorius
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon as Dr. Bloch
Scientists Edward Pretorius and Crawford Tillinghast have designed a machine, known as the Resonator, to stimulate the pineal gland and open our awareness of the unseen world around us. On its initial run, something goes horribly wrong, leaving Edward dead and Crawford facing life in an institution for murder and his incessant claims of inter-dimensional beasts. A young psychiatrist named Dr. Katherine McMichaels has Tillinghast placed in her custody in hopes of returning to the scene of the crime to recreate the experiment and find out what really happened. The two are joined by police detective Bubba Brownlee, a former football star intent on keeping the murder suspect under constant supervision.
Upon repairing the Resonator, visions of the creatures convince the others that Tillinghast’s claims are sincere, but there is a new development as Edward returns, more monstrous than before. Another side effect of the machine is an increased sex drive with a pesky side effect of appetite for human brains. The group must work together to destroy the machine and escape the house if they plan to survive the night, but Edward has a different plan in mind.
In 1985, filmmakers Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna adapted a collection of short stories by genre legend H.P. Lovecraft into the film Re-Animator, an over-the-top masterpiece that thrust the duo front and center for horror audiences. The darkly comic tale of mad scientists and mayhem drenched screens with insane amounts of gore that fans eagerly welcomed. The following year, they delivered a second act every bit as bizarre with H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond. Many names involved from both sides of the camera returned for this production and the results were visually stunning. Gordon deliberately focused on the horror elements of the material and removed almost every trace of comedy for this outing, and while audiences supported the movie, this sophomore effort was less successful.
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners) again leads the cast, but unlike his maniacal Dr. Herbert West, here he plays the victim. This is one of his stronger performances, as he is genuinely sympathetic no matter what his character’s behavior and sincerely strives to do the right thing. Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) impresses with her ability to present Katherine as both confident in her knowledge and yet immediately out of her league when she realizes only too late that Crawford is telling the truth about monsters. Her awakened sexuality in the third act invites a series of actions that complicate matters in a believable manner. Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) is given the thankless role of straight man to the shenanigans going on in the house, but he really is solid as the voice of reason.
Ted Sorel (Network) introduces Pretorius as a salacious bastard, but once his character returns to our dimension, his behavior is not so much malicious as he is simply enjoying his every desire without filter. His body mutates and shifts as he delves farther into the adventure and encourages Tillinghast to stop denying himself the ultimate pleasures. Sorel spends the majority of his screen time covered in unbelievable amounts of slimy makeup and is alternately inviting and repulsive in every scene. The performance given beyond the physical limitations of the effects is quite impressive.
From Beyond showcases a lot of artists operating with abundant resources at their disposal and despite some shortcomings in the finished product, excels at providing a glimpse of undisturbed creativity on a budget. The material was off-putting to mainstream audiences, but the target crowd was treated to a creature feature that offered a kinky twist on the monster movies of the 1950s. Gordon punches the source material into high gear and swings for the fences with the execution of several major set pieces along the way. The film has lost some of its punch over the past 27 years, but continues to please gorehounds with its practical effects, which were the first casualty in the CGI-dominated world of contemporary remakes.
Video and Audio:
From Beyond is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with nice attention to the vibrant color palette on display. Flesh tones are natural, black levels deep and fine detail is sharper than on previous DVD releases, while the more insane neon color schemes that rage from the Resonator sequences are crisp and free from any bleeding.
The film is presented with a default DTS 5.1 HD master audio mix that provides an occasional workout for rear speakers during major set pieces, but is generally absent for the majority of the film. There is also a DTS 2.0 HD mix that is probably stronger overall, with dialogue remaining clear on both options. English subtitles are provided.
Shout! Factory delivers another solid collection of supplemental treats that surpass expectations with a combination of old and new materials. Fans will be happy to note that all of the extras from the 2007 DVD special edition have been ported over.
The special features are headlined by a pair of audio commentaries, the first with director Stuart Gordon joined by producer Brian Yuzna and actors Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton. The four share plenty of production stories and genuinely appear to be having a good time revisiting this film.
The second track is with writer Dennis Paoli, a more detailed discussion about the creation of the script and the differences from the source material. Both tracks are enjoyable and worth a listen.
Next up, are four newly created featurettes focusing on the monsters, the cast and the production. This collection is quite thorough, but there is a noticeable absence of actor Ken Foree.
Multiple Dimensions - A Look at the Film’s Extensive Make-Up and Creature Effects (24 minutes) offers a detailed look at the work of artists John Buechler, Anthony Doublin, John Naulin and Mark Shostrum, with each discussing the insane amount of work they contributed to this monster classic.
Paging Dr. McMichaels - Interview with Barbara Crampton (14 minutes) invites fans to spend a few moments with the always pleasing actress as she reflects on her days working in the world of H.P. Lovecraft.
A Tortured Soul - Interview with Jeffrey Combs (18 minutes) dares viewers to watch and not enjoy the amusing anecdotes Combs shares about this production. Definitely worth checking out.
An Empire Production - Interview with Charles Band (5 minutes) reveals the benefits of filming in Italy in the 1980s and enjoying every moment of working in the horror genre.
The remaining material has been generously ported over from the 2007 special edition DVD:
The Director’s Perspective (9 minutes) features Stuart Gordon reflecting on the creation of From Beyond and the reactions it brought.
The Editing Room “Lost & Found” (5 minutes) tells the tale of uncovering the censored material and restoring it to the special edition disc.
Interview with the Composer (4 minutes) shares a few moments with composer Richard Band and his time creating the themes for the picture.
Storyboard and Photo Galleries offer behind-the-scenes glimpses of the production.
Lastly, a theatrical trailer rounds out the special features.
A DVD copy of the film is also provided.
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