Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Seeing The Monsters All Around Us, or Thoughts on From Beyond

There’s an essential Lovecraftian theme concerning the nameless horrors all around us that remain invisible for the most part, and in From Beyond (1986) those wacky Miskatonic scientists find a way to stimulate the pineal gland or third eye so they can see these creatures.  The bad news is, the creatures can also see them.   Jeffrey Combs portrays Crawford Tillinghast, and with a name like that you can be certain the character was lifted directly from the 1920 short story of the same name.  He’s the assistant for Dr. Edward Praetorius, a brilliant physicist with a sex dungeon (the movie is an unapologetically hard R and loosely based on the aforementioned Lovecraft story).
Barbara Crampton is Dr. McMichaels, psychiatrist for the DA who wants to recreate the experiment and Ken Foree from the original Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Knightriders (1981) as homicide detective Bubba Brown.  Directed by Stuart Gordon, From Beyond is a lateral sequel to his Re-Animator (1985, which as you know also featured Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton), and aided in large part by the magnificent Bernard Hermann-esque orchestral soundtrack by Richard Band, who would go on to write the theme for Stargate SG-1.  And watch out for the director’s wife Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, featured in Re-Animator (1985) and Dolls (1987) as Dr. Bloch (a reference to author Robert Bloch, the writer of Psycho, and a member of the Lovecraft Circle).
H.P. Lovecraft has become synonymous with wordy gothic horror, but upon closer reading he’s technically a science fiction writer; most of the horrific events he relates have some alien, otherworldly, non-supernatural origin, usually revealed at the end as some arcane and unknowable secret that drives the narrator mad.  And if this review didn’t drive you mad, check out last week’s Lurking Fear (1994) for a disappointing Lovecraft adaptation that will.

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