From the makers of venerable classic Re-Animator comes another cult classic monster movie, From Beyond. I have to admit that this film has eluded my viewing for a long time, the bar had been raised high, and I still loved it. I am a big Brian Yuzna fan. Before I started this blog, I rewatched Society, The Dentist 1 and 2, Return of the Living Dead Part 3, Re-Animator and Bride of Re-Animator, and Amphibious Creatures of the Deep.
I am not only going to say how good this movie is because of it's effects. Although that tends to sway my opinion in a huge way, I can't only love a movie because of that. Unfortunately. Although, thinking about movies that have practical effects (especially when there's lots of them) that I don't like, is pretty hard. I know! Puppet Master. I did not like Puppet Master. There's gotta be others too. I'm just trying to show that effects don't make the movie.
What made this movie was the pacing, the presence of real driving forces behind the characters actions, and genuine creepiness factor. This movie was one of the quickest pacings I have ever seen. Hardly a minute of screen time is just downtime, or wasted, or bland. It's constantly moving the story forward, showing our characters as humans, and reminding us that they are in fear of what is going on in their experience. This is attributed to both the acting, and the script, everything here just works, and it works amazingly well.
The plot involves the creation of a special device, called a Resonator, by Doctor Edward Pretorius and his assistant Crawford (Jeffrey Combs). The Resonator vibrates these tuning fork looking things to a certain frequency, which opens up our range of vision beyond what it normally is. Once tuned into this special channel, they start to see strange eel-like creatures all around, and bizarre jellyfish looking things. The only drawback to this is that the creatures can also see them now, too. Crawford is bitten by an eel, but Doctor Pretorius is decapitated!
Thinking the death of Pretorius was due to Crawford, he is quickly arrested and interrogated by the police. That's when he meets with Doctor Katherine McMichaels, a pretty though conservative and glasses-wearing woman. She becomes Crawford's biggest advocate, speaking out in her belief of his innocence. How to prove his innocence though, well, that's something else. The only way to do that is to re-create the Resonator experiment. Though Crawford warns them of the creatures, and whatever decapitated Pretorius, they go back to the house and turn the machine on again. When they turn on the machine, they see Pretorius, now some mutant creature, and it gets suuuuper weird and dangerous before they turn it off again.
This is where I like the movie, because what they say is that the machine makes the pineal gland in the brain grow, because of the sights you're seeing. What this also does though, it kick up their sex drive at the same time. Something about the pineal gland growing makes them all more aroused. So Doctor McMichaels soon looses the glasses and dresses more revealing, and she is super hot. But I also like it because it gives a clear reason as to why these people want to run the experiment again. They find the arousing feelings enjoyable, perhaps even addictive. And for the sex-reserved doctor, she is perhaps feeling sexual for the first time. She is the main proponent of turning the machine back on.
Needless to say, the machine is eventually turned back on, Pretorius attacks them and is trying to force his way into our world. Katherine and Crawford must battle him and his creepy eels to finally destroy the machine.
This is based on a story by HP Lovecraft, and though I didn't read this particular story, I did read this giant Lovecraft collection, so I am pretty familiar with his work. It does have that traditional feel of Lovecraft, and might I just say right now that Stuart Gordon is perhaps the only director who took Lovecraft books and turned them into good movies? Every other Lovecraft story turned movie is just bad. This, and the Re-Animator series, that's about it.
So to sum up, From Beyond did not disappoint, it was a great movie, and if you like Re-Animator I would definitely recommend it. I wish Brian Yuzna or Stuart Gordon were still making good movies...but, what can you do.