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The Resonator is a machine designed and built for the purpose of stimulating the brain’s pineal gland, which is said to greatly expand perception of the world around us. When crazed scientist Doctor Pretorius and his more sensible assistant achieve success, they inadvertently open the door to another dimension. Strange, carnivorous eel-like creatures swim through, but something eminently more dangerous attacks Pretorius and kills him. However, Pretorius has become something else, and when a curious female psychologist returns with the devastated assistant to check his outrageous story, the two of them become subject to the influence of the former scientist and their own now over-active pineal glands...
From Beyond, from the 1980s, was based on a story by the classic science-based horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Director Stuart Gordon started off in independent theatre, where his love for serious horror writers influenced his productions. When he came to make a feature film he learned that the literary produce of Lovecraft was in the public domain - in other words, there is no longer a copyright on the works. So when he made a darkly humorous version of Re-animator a success, he was already planning a re-telling of From Beyond. The problem was that the original story was, for Lovecraft, pretty short, and virtually the whole story, barring budgetary restraints, is told in the first ten minutes of the film. Therefore, Lovecraft’s story was adapted and extended. Unfortunately, that’s where the problem lies.
The opening of the film is different and gripping, but the added material succumbs to the 1980s need for visceral body horror, incorporating lots of prosthetic gelatinous material, theatre blood and fake organs. I have read most of H.P. Lovecraft’s material, and it is weird and bizarre and off-kilter and outrageous and horrific... and brilliant! Anyone who has read and enjoyed his stories will probably tell you that that they would be near-impossible to film with any accuracy. Lovecraft’s creatures are the stuff of nightmares, and everyone’s nightmares are unique to some extent. So to copy one of his creations would - unless expressed in shadows and half-seen movements - simply induce laughter or just disinterest.
From Beyond is not a bad film by any means; it’s certainly better than many similar human hybrid/mutant transformation movies of the 1980s. It’s just that, personally, I didn’t look on this film as Lovecraft, simply because it didn’t have that feel. Stuart Gordon went on to direct an adaptation of The Dreams in the Witch House for the excellent Masters of Horror TV anthology series. This Lovecraft story worked better because it is essentially a ghost story. Gordon also adapted Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat for the same show. Poe translates much easier to the screen, and also to the stage it seems, as Gordon created A Night With Edgar Allan Poe, to great success.
This is another one of those releases wherein the entertainment value of the extras outweighs that of the film itself. There’s a plethora of material to look at: Stuart Gordon on From Beyond; Gothic Adaptation - An Interview with script writer Dennis Paoli; The Doctor is In – An Interview with Barbara Crampton; Monsters & Slime - The FX of From Beyond; Director’s Perspective; The Editing Room - Lost & Found; Interview with the Composer; Commentary with Stuart Gordon, producer Brian Yuzna and Jeffrey Combs; Photo Montage; and a short Storyboard to Film Comparison. It is an enjoyable journey through the extras, and the attention to detail certainly gains this Blu-ray release an extra point.