JUNE 18, 2008
I have an odd affliction that keeps me from watching a film if I get an inkling that the film has been edited (note – this doesn’t apply to films I’ve already seen before I knew better, such as the Friday the 13th films). For example, one of my favorite movies of all time is Sling Blade, and yet I have yet to see Billy Bob Thornton’s followup, All The Pretty Horses, because I know Miramax cut it in half. The same thing kept me from ever seeing From Beyond until now, as I read, years ago, that the MPAA cut out pretty much everything considered gory (might have been when Stuart Gordon was discussing Castle Freak). Anyway, once the DVD became available, I bought it, and finally got around to watching it today, thanks in part to a recommendation by HMAD reader JJ Fancybears.
I didn’t dislike the film by any means, but I wasn’t particularly engaged by it either. I didn’t even take notes, because nothing stuck out as particularly amazing (other than the effects/makeup work by John Buechler and some others – but that’s like pointing out that the shower scene in Psycho is pretty good), or bad. It was just there, being pretty good, and I nodded along in general approval.
I do think that maybe they just didn’t have the money to film everything they wanted to. For a movie in which sexual depravity plays such a large role, there is actually quite little of it on display. Whether characters or sequences were dropped, I dunno, but it all feels like it’s sort of over before it has really begun. That said, any movie in which the villain is revealed to be impotent during the big climactic battle is automatically at least a B.
I should admit that I’m not a big fan of Lovecraft, who wrote the short story that serves as the prologue to the film. I read a few of his stories and they all seemed the same to me, and, like this film itself, the design (description) of the creatures was all I really got excited about; not really caring about the human characters (one exception – "The Outsider". That story fucking rules). Then again, it didn’t stop me from really enjoying Dagon, so I dunno.
The extras on the DVD, however, got me all excited about the movie. In addition to a great commentary track (with Gordon, Brian Yuzna, Barbara Crampton, and Jeffrey Combs), there’s a nice, if short, piece on the restoration of the film, as well as a general retrospective. Gordon is the only one seen in new interviews (other than the restoration guys) for some reason, but that’s OK. Plus, he’s filmed inside Dark Delicacies, a store any Los Angeles horror fan should know (and shop at). And the stuff revealed on the commentary is pretty interesting, such as the fact that they shot Dolls before this film, even though Dolls was released second. Indeed, other than my annoyance with MGM putting their logo before every extra feature (do we need a full logo for a piece that lasts 72 seconds?) I actually had more fun watching the bonus material than the movie. I dunno, maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.
It’s also another horror movie to deal with the Pineal gland, but it’s pronounced differently than I am used to (and as usual, has a different function than it did in other horror movies). I’d like to see a horror movie in which a group of scientists get together to debate what exactly the Pineal gland does, only to discover that it’s not even an actual thing. Then they are murdered by a wizard who happens by.
Note – I was actually going to watch another Gordon film today, one I had rented titled King of the Ants, only to discover that it wasn’t a horror movie. Score another one for Blockbuster’s half assed genre tagging!
What say you?