From Beyond (1986) – Stuart Gordon

Cult favorite actor Jeffrey Combs is the mad scientist in the next title featured in DK Canada’s highly enjoyable Monsters in the Movies book.

Based on the seven page short story by H.P. Lovecraft the story follows Crawford Tillinghast (Combs) and a group of scientists that have developed the resonator, an experimental machine that can allow those within its range to see a heightened reality beyond that of normal human perception.

Unfortunately, something attacks them when it’s noticed and the horrors begin as transformations, manipulations, and terror seem to be all that lay beyond our normal sight.

Combs is always a delight, and it’s always cool to see him center stage. The visual effects are incredibly solid, remember this was the 80s. In fact I remember seeing the poster and the video tape cover for this when I was growing up, and looking at, daring to glance at the ‘scary’ pictures on the back of the box, there was nothing, at the time, that could make me watch it.

I was sure my friend Sean and his brothers had watched it, but at that point, I wasn’t ready for that kind of horror. So now, some thirty three years later, I finally watched it, thanks to Monsters in the Movies.

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After the film opens, one of the scientists is dead, and no one believes Tillinghast, he is sectioned, and examined to see whether he is fit to stand trial for murder. He tries to warn everyone about the invention, but no one seems willing to accept his accounts.

But of course he’s right.

It may also be too late for him, as he’s been affected by those creatures that he’s been attacked by. But that won’t stop a young doctor, Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Compton) and a police office to guard Crawford, Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree), from repeating the experiment to see if Crawford was telling the truth.

Surprise, surprise, things go sideways in a huge way, because no one wants to simply keep the machine turned off, or better yet, disassembled.

It’s gory, sexy, horrific, and has proven to be an enduring cult film, and yeah, I enjoyed it.  Although it could also be argued that Katherine is the mad scientist in the film because Crawford wants nothing but to get away from the resonator, but begins to fall for Katherine, who wants to keep experimenting, even after she has seen some of the horrors.

The film plays out fast and quick, and is done seemingly just after it started with not even a 90 minute runtime, yet I really did dig it. It’s crass horror and sexuality packaged in a loosely adapted Lovecraft tale that wants to pull out all the stops and give us some wild special effects.

A fun ride that won’t be for everyone, but perhaps you can find a mad scientist more to your liking in DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies!

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