Directed by Stuart Gordon
Starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ted Sorel, Ken Foree
Review by Jordan
It’s been quite some time since I first watched Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, but its fair to say that time has not dampened nor diluted my fondness for it. It was the 1985 debut of a director who would later garner the title of Master of Horror, and the first of his adaptations of stories by H. P. Lovecraft, mixing scientific terror with outlandish special effects and deliriously dark humor into a classic horror experience.
Gordon was quick to add Lovecraft’s name to the title, convinced that the great authors works would soon be brought to life on mass by other film makers. He was slightly off about that… and what struck a cord with audiences more was the uncovering of two fresh acting talents to match his visionary eye behind the camera: Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton.
Combs would go on reprise his role of Herbert West in two Re-Animator sequels, as well as other horror offerings including a little seen but terrific anthology film Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, in which he actually got to play Lovecraft himself in a segment directed by Stuart Gordon’s regular producing partner Brian Yuzna. Crampton, with her stunning features and healthy set of lungs remains distinctively popular as a Scream Queen, recently featuring in You’re Next and The Lords of Salem.
In 1986 though, just one year after Re-Animator etched itself into cult film history, all three of these contributors would collaborate on a science fiction horror outing that would rival their previous hit for zaniness and visceral impact, but unfortunately not receive the same ongoing recognition or coverage: H. P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond.
With the aesthetics of the most heavily dripping David Cronenberg chillers and thematically linked to the articulated ink of Clive Barker, From Beyond is a joy for to behold for the initiated, whilst still boasting gallons of gooey gore and a delightuly bonkers performance from Combs to satisfy those simply seeking cheesy ’80’s escapism. The story is that of two scientists who create the Resonator, a machine developed to harness the sixth sense and view another plane of existence that unfortunately also enables other, more aggressive and destructive life forms, to view ours. When one of these men dies at its hand, the other, Crawford Tillinghast (Combs), is forced to recreate the experiment at the request of Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Crampton) or risk being incarcerated for life in a mental institute.
Also along for the ride is police officer and former college footballer Bubba Brownlee, endearingly played by the physically imposing Ken Foree, whose very presence is all that’s needed to elevate a movie to the next tier of greatness.
The performances, direction and plot are three very good reasons to venture into this Lovecraftian experience, but they’re not the main reason, that honor belongs to the gruesome yet mesmerizing figure of the reconstructed Dr. Edward Pretorius returned from oblivion to unleash alien fury upon those foolish enough to connect electricity to his alluring portal…
I suppose you need to see it to understand.