Crawford Tillinghast and Dr. Edward Pretorius engineer a machine that taps into the brain and opens an alternate dimension parallel to our own. However dark forces are unleashed and the terror brought forth is beyond our nightmares!
Oh man it’s From Beyond! The 1986 body horror film that can churn any human stomach. What a way to start off the marathon! A part of me wondered if I should have done something comical or lighthearted, but no. I slapped that inner wuss away and said, “If you can’t start off strong then you better cut your balls off.” From Beyond might be the most gruesome and mind splitting horror movie from the bronze age. You will never see this movie on basic cable. It would be impossible to edit. Seriously, I would love to have an actual debate on weather From Beyond or Hellraiser is the craziest. It’s up to you to make your own decision but as for me and my house; From Beyond dominates.
Connection to Re-Animator
It may surprise people how connected it is to another awesome horror film called Re-Animator. Re-Animator was filmed in 1985 and From Beyond in 1986. From Beyond and Re-Animator star the prodigious Jeffrey Combs and the hottest scream queen Barbara Crampton. Both films were also written by legendary horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. However, the short story is just the first five minutes of the film. The movie pretty much takes creative liberties and continues where Lovecraft ended. Some Lovecraft fans may find that upsetting but they’ll get over it.
Both were directed by Stuart Gordon and produced by Empire International Pictures. Empire, a small movie distributor started by Charles Robert Band; made other low budget horror films like Puppetmaster, TerrorVision and Ghoulies. Band would go on to also start Full Moon Entertainment, another b-rated horror distributor that gave us films like Subspecies and Castle Freak. Castle Freak is another Lovecraft film that stars Combs and Crampton but that was nearly ten years later. Anyone that grew up in the VHS era probably remembers seeing these films in your Blockbuster or local mom and pop movie rental store.
Man, those were the days! Dad would give me five bucks on a Friday. My brother and I would ride our BMX bikes over to the S&S movie store (literally the name of our rental place). Nothing better than rummaging through that array of films and getting that stale candy. Then go home for a night of family bonding movie time. I remember you would be fined if you didn’t rewind the movie. Things are too simple now. You just lazily go to Amazon and purchase the movie. Big f-ing whoop! VHS tapes were like finding a Willy Wonka golden ticket. A ticket in being able to tell your friends “I’m better than you!” Yea, most rental stores only had a few copies. So say Jurassic Park comes out and you want to rent it. Good thought, so does everyone else in that small town! Boy, you better get there early after school because everybody else is thinking the same thing! But you get a copy and while driving home you see Mike Cates and his pals and he spots you holding Jurassic Park in your hand. At first you prepare yourself for an attack. No way are you going home to dad without that tape. Dad works too hard and our families gonna get the pre-historic glory dammit! But instead he wants some of that dinosaur terror! So he comes over to watch and now so you’re the cool kid! Now that’s a childhood!
Break It Down
The machine is called the Resonator. You turn the switch on and it makes you see strange flying eel creatures. Also, the machine taps into a humans pineal gland and… Ok so I looked up the pineal gland and from what I could tell, doctors aren’t quite sure what it does. It’s the size of a pee and it may produce melatonin. Which means it could regulate sleep.
The pineal gland may also be known as the third eye. I’m talking figuratively. All of you annoying hipsters probably can go into detail as to what the third eye is and we don’t care. Shave that stupid beard! If you don’t have an axe in your hand, in a metal band, have children or deliver Christmas presents then a beard before 40 years old is stupid!
In short the third eye is some Hindu thing. It all alludes to the inner wisdom and foresight. Actually that makes a great deal of sense. The Resonator opens ones mind to inner dimensional planes of existence and causing the gland to protrude out from the forehead like a tentacle. I still don’t understand why the pineal gland would turn into a snake like appendage? I guess it just looks crazy.
Let It Go
From Beyond requires total acceptance and that’s where the movie works. Nothing makes sense but that’s ok. It’s so gross and bizarre that it keeps you stuck to the film. It’s also full of horror movie icons that know one can ignore.
Jeffrey Combs is insanely brilliant. He plays Tillinghast and like all Combs performances; his lines are colorful and dramatic. Completely over the top and a joy to watch. It’s debatable as to which performance was better, Tillinghast or Herbert West. Yea, Milton Dammers is fun but something about Combs in From Beyond is pure magic. Combs is a legend and without a doubt my most favorite horror movie actors. It’s actually a shame that Combs and Bruce Campbell never collaborated together for a movie. I’m sure that would have been an insane project. Something where Herbert West and Ash Williams team up together or maybe against each other?
Barabara Crampton my gosh. She is the queen of all scream queens. Sure Jamie Lee Curtis, Heather Langenkamp and Danielle Harris are all great. But Barabara Crampton is so bad ass that she’ll bite down on a bloody appendage and eat it. She has balls and unlike your typical final girls, Crampton survives and delivers the pain. She’s not final anything. Even to this day she is still killing it in horror movies. She’s still hot too.
Ken Foree plays Bubba Brownlee (what an awesome name) and he’s the only one that thinks clearly. Foree is a horror icon. Acting in greats like Dawn of The Dead, and falls into the typical lone black guy in horror movies theme. Something I want to touch on in another entry.
Ted Sorel plays Dr. Pretorius. Hmm, Pretorius. That’s the same name from 1935’s The Bride of Frankenstein guy! Anyways, Sorel deserves props for From Beyond and he may not be an “icon” like the other three. Combs gets most of the ovation but Sorel is insane! Pretorius is sick and twisted! In the beginning of the movie he gets pulled into the other dimension where he transforms into a monster. This is why Sorel deserves praise. I’m not an actor and I don’t care for costumes but there is no way Sorel was physically comfortable in the monster outfits. Even in monster form with just Pretorius’ head showing… he still maintains this perverted sodomite demeanor. He’s such a terrifying monster that it grosses you out deep down in the blow chunks kind of way.
What I love about From Beyond is the fact that I had to watch this movie a second time just to figure out what the hell is going on! Initially, I loved the effects and insanity of the film. But the story was confusing. It’s a typical Lovecraftian story that pushes the horror of vastness or the great unknown. But also giving us puke inducing terror.
I love the idea of dimensional levels that exist together like layers of paint that aren’t aware of each other. Maybe some of these existences are extreme opposites of ours. Which is why Pretorius was pulled into the dimension rather than Tillinghast. Maybe Pretorius is so evil and depraved that his consciousness is a mirror of that dimension. He accepts the corruption and is made one with it. We learn how evil he is in the film by seeing his torture devices he owns. Combine that with his chest hair and you’re in for one evil mother! But this is why the dimension takes him. Like Eddie Brock being able to work with the symbiote in Spider Man or something. This idea of the paradoxical existence is great and it’s more fear inducing than typical jump scares. Stranger Things pays homage to it with the upside down scenario and maybe From Beyond is the reason we got that.
From Beyond, what a crazy movie! An edifice to the bronze age style of horror and a horror lovers dream come true. Truly a must for any horror movie top whatever list. On this first day of my Horror Movie Marathon, watch From Beyond and enjoy the demented, gross and amazing practical effects. Then watch it a second time for good measure.
See you tomorrow!