Something hidden -- go and find it;
Go and look beyond the Ranges
Something lost behind the ranges:
Lost and waiting for you. Go!

-- from Guy Maddin's CAREFUL

Being a periodic meditation on some of the more obscure outlying regions of cinema;
regarding movies that are inadequately publicized and hence, easily overlooked --
and by cinema, it is meant in the larger sense of films/tv/DVD/internet --
that might be worthy of your interest, but perhaps has escaped your notice.


Friday, September 7, 2007


       It’s a little premature to start making picks for the year’s Halloween viewing (although trust me, on this blog, most of the month of October will be devoted to that task), but since the subject of this week’s entry is being released on DVD for the first time -- ever -- this upcoming Tuesday, I think I’ll slide it in a lil’ early. Many people -- even those disinclined towards the horror genre -- are at least vaguely familiar with Stuart Gordon’s notorious first feature, Re-Animator, a film whose scandalous reputation comes not only from the amount of gore displayed on screen, but also from the fact that the films' producers opted for an unrated theatrical release. A bold move, that the MPAA -- an organization that tends to get a little miffed when production companies bypass their little tea circle and release films sans their stamp -- finds all the more irritating when it then makes scads of money on home video sales and rentals. But unrated or not, a successful film almost always demands a sequel -- and what do you do to top yourself in the movie biz? Why, completely go over the top, of course! Which brings us to From Beyond.

       Like Re-Animator, From Beyond is also based upon a H.P. Lovecraft short story; it's arguably a more faithful adaptation as well. The story starts with Dr. Pretorius and his assistant, Crawford Tillinghast, completing construction on a device called a resonator, which appears to open a portal to another dimension that exists alongside our own. The trial-run of the device results in a horrible mishap that seemingly causes the death of Pretorius; Tillinghast is blamed for his death, and arrested. As an investigation commences, it soon becomes clear that the resonator actually does grant access to some other dimension; and that it’s operation inalterably changes those in close proximity to it; and that Pretorius may not be dead after all...
       As the trailer and photos on this page all too graphically suggest, From Beyond up’ed the ante on gross-out over Re-Animator; a fact which didn’t escape the MPAA, who demanded all sorts of cuts in order to grant the film an R-rating. Entire effects sequences and scenes were removed; the re-edit was so extensive that new dialogue scenes were shot in order to bring the film back to feature-length. But the story-line and pacing of the movie suffered, and the result was a flawed end-product -- especially in comparison to its predecessor. Neither as financially successful nor as cult-status worthy as Re-Animator, a chance discovery of the excised elements from the film has allowed the release of this un-bowdlerized and restored cut of the film.

       Stuart Gordon, the director and co-writer of From Beyond, has an unlikely pedigree for a horror-film-meister. He founded the Organic Theater Company, a troupe notable for putting on the world premiere production of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago, as well as many other stage-plays of note. Gordon’s had a speckled career since, always doing a mix of original, challenging films (most recently, an adaptation of Mamet’s Edmond) and hokey, direct-to-video potboilers (Robot Jox). That being said, even his throwaway work usually includes an attempt to make the material compelling -- or at the very least interesting -- at some level. While the inclusion of the new scenes is exciting news, the best special effect in From Beyond was there, all along, intact -- Jeffrey Combs’ mannered, melodramatic performance as Crawford Tillinghast; he’s one of those actors -- like Vincent Price -- who knows how to make a hammy portrayal work for him. He’s having fun going completely over the top / you know he is / you have fun too, as a result.

       The restored version of From Beyond becomes available on DVD Tuesday, September 11th. Access to it can be found here or here. I haven’t seen this new version myself, but if it manages to improve upon the flawed, but still absorbing theatrical cut, it’ll be well worth a look.

Next post -- 09/14/07

1 comment:

Kalibhakta said...



too early for



"why don't you take your social regulations/ and shove 'em up your ass?"
The Dead Kennedys