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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

From Beyond (1986)

From Beyond is a curious film, almost forgotten by many horror fans who are only too familiar with the previous film made by the same team, namely the glorious Re-Animator. From Beyond reunites a bunch of people from that flick, including director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna along with Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, and much like that previous film it is an adaptation of a story originally by H.P. Lovecraft.

Good credentials really. While the cover may make it look rather dark and unnerving, From Beyond is a blast. Full of outlandish gore and a very old fashioned 'mad scientist' style script, it is almost camp in its execution, but it's hugely entertaining too.

Jeffrey Combs is back as a mad scientist after his turn as Herbert West in the (quite deservedly) legendary first Re-Animator movie, but he's not quite as deranged in this flick. The lunatic genius of this piece is played by Ted Sorel, who hams it up to a huge level and is clearly having a blast, even when under thick layers of latex and gobs of gore.

The plot, if you're not familiar with the Lovecraft tale it takes its inspiration from, is simple. Nutjob scientist devises a machine that can open up other dimensions so they can be seen by regular humans. Of course, things go awry and ...something... crosses over. Cue possession, masses of insane gore, wiggly bits coming out of people's heads, and all the pink and green gels over the lights that you could possibly want. It's mental, but I lapped up every hideous, cheesy moment. Where Re-Animator was dark and grimy, From beyond is bright neon colours and 50s-style kitsch with 80s effects and photography.

By the end of the film, I was kind of wondering what I'd just seen. It's camp and silly, but it is also horrendously violent and very weird indeed. The thing I found strange about it is that there appears to be another film tacked onto the end of it. The end of the second act could almost be the end of the film, and then it goes off at a bit of a tangent and gives us more. Much more.

From Beyond is horror as entertainment, plain and simple. All of the ingredients are there for a genuine classic of 80s horror, but there's something missing from it that would elevate it to that status. It may be that with the cartoonish lighting and the distinct feeling that even the characters know they're in a B-movie, it's hard to take it seriously on any level. Then again, that may well have been the point. I found From beyond to be like a good takeaway- messy and satisfying, but something of a guilty pleasure.

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