“From Beyond” is the third film in the Stuart Gordon Lovecraftian trilogy. This is easily the creepiest film of the three. A lot of Lovecraft stories are disturbing because the author lets the imagination of the reader fill in the blanks. The creatures in this film were the closest I’ve ever seen to what I visualize when I read his stories. Slime, tentacles, astounding body horror, all that nasty stuff is center stage in “From Beyond”.
The movie begins with Dr. Edward Pretorius and his assistant Crawford Tillinghast starting up a machine called “the resonator”. This device allows humans to see a variety of interdimensional creatures by stimulating the pineal gland. Unfortunately things go terribly wrong and Pretorius has his head bitten off. The little old lady across the street hears the commotion and calls the police. The cops find the decapitated body of Pretorius and when they confront Crawford he keeps babbling about monsters. Naturally they assume Crawford killed Pretorius and that he’s a raving loony.
The police take Crawford to a local mental hospital. Dr. Katherine Mcmichaels
takes interest in Crawfords case and manages to get custody of him. She intends to take him back to the house as part of one of her experiments. Bubba Brownlee, the detective working the case insists on coming along as he is convinced Crawford is a dangerous lunatic. When they arrive at the house they turn on the resonator and are amazed by the weird creatures that appear all around them.
Suddenly Pretorius returns in a disgusting, mutated form. He explains that after being decapitated he was brought into a world of new pleasures. In life he was an extreme Sadomasochist so one can only wonder what he’s referring to, but maybe it’s better not to ask. He attacks the group with his disgusting oversized slimy alien arms, only to be stopped at the last second when Crawford turns off the machine.
The next morning Katherine is quite insistent that the resonator should be turned back on. She claims that the primary reason she wants to try it out again is because she thinks the technology can help people with schizophrenia and brain damage. The truth is she’s motivated by the erotic effect the machine has on her. Naturally Crawford and Bubba disagree with her, probably because they don’t want to get their heads bitten off. Katherine waits until the men fall asleep and goes up to the attic to turn on the machine. Mutant Pretorius shows back up and tries to attack her again, starting to notice a pattern?
Katherine has to be saved from getting her head eaten by Crawford and Bubba. They run to the basement to shut off the power only to discover the place has been taken over by a giant worm creature. Crawford is attacked by the beast but Bubba manages to shuts off the power, saving Katherine and Crawford in the process. Bubba, being the only sane person in the room insists that they need to leave the house but Pretorius manages to return and attacks them again. Katherine and Crawford run up to the attic to try to turn off the machine. They’re attacked by weird bee monsters and Bubba gets killed saving them.
Crawfords pineal gland pops out of his forehead in a really freaky way while Katherine deactivates the machine by beating it to death with a fire extinguisher.
Katherine and Crawford escape back to the hospital but now everyone thinks Katherine has gone completely nuts because she’s telling stories of weird spectral creatures. They start setting up Katherine for a sadistic session of shock therapy but then Crawford (who by now has a large pineal gland poking out of his head) attacks the attending doctor and eats his brains. Katherine gets her hands on a bomb and head back towards the house with mutant Crawford chasing after her.
She puts the bomb on the resonator but before she can leave Crawford attacks her. He tries to eat her brain but in desperation she bites off his pineal gland in a scene that is clearly meant to represent penile castration. Crawford gets his senses back but it’s too late, Pretorius has managed to cause the separate wires of the machine to come back together and override the short circuit.
Pretorius is even more grotesque than before, he goes in for the attack and Crawford challenges him. Pretorius sends hideous bat monsters to tear up him up. The creatures knock Crawford down and rip his head off. Pretorius is about to decapitate Katherine when Crawford comes out of the body of Pretorius. He’s pulled back in and the men start fighting for control. Crawford ends up pulling the head of his adversary into his own stomach, tearing him apart from the inside out. Katherine manages to escape through the attic window just as the bomb explodes, destroying the machine in the process.
In the final moments of the film Katherine does what every good Lovecraft protagonist should do and goes completely barking mad. As the neighbors gather around her she shrieks “it ate him!’ and she starts laughing like a complete nut bar.
“From Beyond” features two of the stars from “Re-animator”, these being Jeffrey Combs (Herbert West) and Barbara Crampton (Megan) as lead characters. This time instead of being antagonistic they’re… love interests? It’s very odd but it’s like watching the “American Horror Story” series and seeing how different actors will have different relationships with each other depending on the story. The actors do a fantastic job with the material and I was very nervous every time Pretorius showed up. The special effects are decent considering the limited budget, although some of the creature effects are somewhat hokey. Still, better a goofy practical effect than CGI any day of the week. The music is all right, but I can’t see anyone going out and buying the soundtrack. If you haven’t watched the films in the Stuart Gordon Lovecraft trilogy I highly suggest checking them out. On a final note it should be pointed out this film is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 17.-Zwahk (Image from IMDb.com)