From Beyond (1986)

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?


  1. Do you mean "The Outsider" by Lovecraft? The Stranger is Camus (and many others I'm sure).

    Love the blog, by the way. Love Lovecraft too.

  2. D'oh, yes, The Outsider. Thank you. Where he sees the monster and realizes it's him. Fucking great story. Probably because there WAS no human to try to identify with, which is what I usually have trouble with in Lovecraft.

  3. I love this one and actually find myself watching it more than 'Re-Animator'. Of course, I'll watch anything with Ken Foree, but it's Barbara Crampton that gives the films most virtuosic performance. You should give it another try at a later date.

  4. I thought Barbara Crampton is hot as hell in this movie when she puts on the dominatrix gear. I kind of liked this better than Re Animator too.

  5. "Probably because there WAS no human to try to identify with, which is what I usually have trouble with in Lovecraft."

    I'll go all pedantic in defense of Lovecraft here: few of his stories have a " identify with." In his tales of cosmic horror, Lovecraft was not interested in something so trivial as human personality. It was all about the concept, not the characters

  6. Yeah, From Beyond is probably my favorite of the Lovecraft / Stuart Gordon films. While I LOVE Re-Animator I find myself watching this one more often. Crampton, Combs, Foree are all just outstanding and funny as hell in parts. Just not another movie out there like it and was so happy when they FINALLY released this on DVD in the US. For years I've been watching my rapidly degrading VHS copy. And if you can get a hold of the soundtrack by Richard Band it's outstanding too.

  7. How can you not like Lovecraft? I am shocked and appalled. I might need a drink now.

    Although I like the Re-Animator trilogy better (Herbert West forever captured my heart), I thought From Beyond is quite a solid, good movie. I'll admit in shame that I had to read the story after I watched the movie, though.

    Then again, anything from the Gordon/Lovecraft combination gets me into a frenetic fangirl mode...

    Sidenote, wasn't Castle Freak based on "The Outsider"?

    And I totally vote for the pineal gland movie with death by wizard!

  8. I had seen this many times in the '80s and '90s, but it was a double bill of this and RE-ANIMATOR at the Egyptian a couple years ago that really crystallized what's missing from this piece: humor and heart. I love FROM BEYOND dearly, but seeing the fun/crazy audience reaction during RE-ANIMATOR and then seeing their very muted, somber mood during FROM BEYOND convinced me that a few doses of humor are essential in almost any good movie experience. There are exceptions, of course -- and nobody loves bleak movies more than me -- but I think FROM BEYOND could have been better with just a tiny handful of moments that weren't so insanely oppressive. You need a break from the unrelenting horror of it all, even if horror is your reason for showing up. The Egyptian screening illustrated how much the audience loved the RE-ANIMATOR characters and appreciated the ride the movie took us on, but the FROM BEYOND screening was a bit more like something uncomfortable we all survived. Again, I love this movie, but it was an interesting lesson from a storytelling standpoint.

  9. The pineal gland is real and is found in most vertebrates. To quote Wikipedia, "It produces melatonin, a serotonin derived hormone, which affects the modulation of sleep patterns in both seasonal and circadian rhythms." It was thought to be "the third eye" by many, which lead it to be used as such in many sci-fi and horror stories, including two different mentions in my favorite TV show, The Middleman.

  10. Re-Animator might be a better movie than From Beyond, but this one really got under my skin. I had lots of fun watching Re-Animator (and I love it), but watching From Beyond genuinely stressed me out. I felt like anything could happen in this and that kind of scared me. There's really something to be said for a movie that can do that me. I have a high horror tolerance like I'm sure most of us do. For that reason, I might prefer From Beyond.


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