Movie Discussion: Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond (1986)

  • Monthly Theme: Sean’s Favoritesfrom_beyond
  • The Film: From Beyond
  • Country of origin: U.S.A.
  • Date of U.S. release: October 24, 1986
  • Studio: Empire Pictures & Taryn Prov
  • Distributer: Empire Pictures
  • Domestic Gross: $1.2 million
  • Budget: $4.5 million (estimated)
  • Director: Stuart Gordon
  • Producers: Charles Band, Brian Yunza, et al.
  • Screenwriters: Stuart Gordon, Dennis Paoli & Brian Yunza
  • Adaptation? Yes, of the 1934 short story “From Beyond” by H.P. Lovecraft.
  • Cinematographer: Mac Ahlberg
  • Make-Up/FX: Mark Shostrom, John Carl Buechler, Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero, et al.
  • Music: Richard Band
  • Part of a series? No.
  • Remakes? No.
  • Genre Icons in the cast? Yes. Scream queen Barbara Crampton (Castle Freak, Re-Animator, etc.). Horror legend Jeffrey Combs (Castle Freak, Re-Animator, etc.). Genre icons Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead (1978), Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, etc.) and Carolyn Purdy Gordon (Re-Animator, Dolls, etc.).
  • Other notables?: No.
  • Awards?: 3 awards at the 1986 Sitges-Catalonian International Film Festival.
  • Tagline: “Humans are such easy prey.”
  • The Lowdown: From Beyond is the second adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story by director Stuart Gordon, after 1985’s Re-Animator. The movie follows Dr. McMichaels (Barbara Crampton), a psychiatrist assigned to evaluate Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), the survivor of a failed experiment that claimed the life of his mentor, the eccentric Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel). McMichaels learns that Pretorius lost his life while testing an experimental machine called the Resonator, built by Pretorius and Tillinghast in order to gain access to planes of reality beyond our own. McMichaels returns to Pretorius’ laboratory/home with Tillinghast and local police officer Bubba Brownlee (Dawn of the Dead‘s Ken Foree) in order to recreate the Resonator experiments and learn exactly how Pretorius died. But McMichaels soon becomes obsessed with the Resonator, which opens up a gateway to another dimension populated by strange creatures, leading to series of bizarre and psychedelic incidents… It is revealed that the Resonator stimulates the pineal gland of anyone within its field of influence, leading to strange transformations in Tillinghast and McMichaels and to the return of Dr. Pretorius, who has now evolved into a phantasmagoric entity from another world. Overshadowed by the more popular Re-AnimatorFrom Beyond is a classic in its own right.

If you haven’t seen From Beyond our discussion will include massive SPOILERS. 

Sean: When I was getting ready to re-watch From Beyond for the first time in 15 years, I was wondering, ‘Is this movie really as kinky and weird as I remembered?’ And the answer is obviously…

Kristine: Yes.

Sean: Yes, completely. It was just as kinky, if not kinkier. Were you dying at all the leather and bondage?

Weirdest Lamaze class ever

Kristine: Yes, I was dying at the leather and bondage. At first, when they discover the video of Dr. Pretorius whipping that woman, I thought it was just some plot device meant to be shorthand for ‘bad dude on a power trip.’ When Dr. McMichaels goes into the room and starts, like, sniffing a gimp mask and rubbing it all over her body, I thought, “Oh fuck. Here we go….” I am going to preemptively answer your next question: Yes, I recognized Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and Ken Foree right away! 10 million horror movie points! You may have told me, but I forgot/didn’t know this was directed by Stuart Gordon who directed Re-Animator. Which makes me recognizing Combs and Crampton even more awesome. Right?

Sean: Yes. That’s great. From Beyond really is a who’s-who of 1980s horror. I was obsessed with Re-Animator when I was 12 years old, and when I discovered the VHS of From Beyond sitting on the shelf in the video store in 1987, I practically fell on the floor, dying and having a seizure of excitement and joy.

Kristine: Adorable.

Sean: And then… In some ways, I liked it more than Re-Animator. It was a bit more my style.

Kristine: Really?

1980s cop show that never was

Sean: Yeah, for sure. The weirdo body-horror psychedelics of the movie really spoke to me.

Kristine: I was going to say that From Beyond is fine and it has some great parts, but I think Re-Animator is much, much better.

Sean: I might agree that, objectively, Re-Animator is the classic film. But From Beyond is weirder, messier, more psychedelic, has more interesting ideas. It’s also a bit sleazier, I think. And I can’t believe I’m saying that in comparison to a movie that has a decapitated head performing cunnilingus on a captive woman.

Kristine: I looked up and downloaded the H.P. Lovecraft short story that this was based on, because I was going to read it before we chatted today but I didn’t get to it. So, I will ask you – are the movie character’s names taken from the story? “Crawford Tillinghast”? “Dr. Pretorius”? “Dr. McMichaels”? And, of course – Bubba Brownlee??? (They should have just gone with Negro McDarkskin for that one).

Sean: Pretorius and Crawford Tillinghast are from the story. The Lovecraft story only covers the first scene of the movie. The whole rest of the movie is an invention of the filmmakers.

Kristine: Well, can I just spill some thoughts on Barbara Crampton? I need to get it out of my system.

Sean: Please do.

Kristine: Man, she is definitely a… game actress. I can’t believe she was horribly, disgustingly molested by a disembodied head-monster in not one but two of Gordon’s movies. I actually found the scene when Pretorius holds her from behind and drips his “man slime” on her and rips her blouse open and then his repulsive fingers elongate (all the better to molest her with) to be so, so awful. My vagina sealed shut. I will never have sex again.

McMichaels loves brain-flavored Twizzlers (I prefer strawberry)

Sean: What about when she bites Tillinghast’s pineal rape-stem off?

Kristine: OMFG, that penis forehead. What about when she is all sex-crazed and mounts Tillinghast and then sticks her hand under the covers down to his nethers and then sniffs and licks her finger??? WTF? Sampling his dirty dick cheese? I was overcome with the weirdness and the trash/slime aesthetics. In a good way.

Sean: I feel like she definitely inserted her finger into his anus and then sniffed and licked that finger.

Kristine: Who comes up with something like that?

Sean: That scene where McMichaels straddles Tillinghast is one of the more interesting scenes in the movie, for me. It’s a key scene that challenges some of the problematic sexism in the rest of the movie.

Kristine: How gold standard classic 1980s was it that McMichaels goes from being this buttoned-up career women with glasses and a ponytail to being a sex-crazed wildebeest? She shakes out the hair, throws out her glasses, rips off the conservative suit and dons a pleather g-sting and starts shoving her finger up assholes and giving ‘fuck me’ eyes to burly black men?

Sean: Her working woman outfit at the beginning had me rolling on the floor. Those gigantic Lenscrafters eyeglasses.

Kristine: Oh, I know. And you know she was rocking Easy Spirit pumps. Explain more about your take on the straddling scene.

Sean: I thought it was interesting to get that scene, where McMichaels is in control, where she’s overcome with these desires, and Tillinghast is the body she is interested in exploring. It’s an inversion of a pretty familiar trope, right? Of the sleeping girl at the party getting groped by the rapey dude? Which is contrasted against a lot of much more familiar, traditional scenes where she’s the body being groped and objectified (by the monster, primarily).

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 5.20.00 PM

Kristine: Yes, absolutely. That is interesting, especially considering this is a 1980s film and I think that kind of reversal is really unusual for the period. But I need you to address how in both From Beyond and Re-Animator, Crampton is molested by a dripping, salivating man-freak. And how both the assaults are incredibly imaginative, but also traumatic and disgusting beyond belief. Creature fingers that elongate at will in order to molest you more completely? And Pretorius did finger her hole, right?

Sean: The molestation in this movie is pretty horrible. When Pretorius finger-rapes her, for sure. And all the fibrous, oozing, penile protrusions that keep flinging through the air and grabbing people, especially McMichaels, are disgusting. One thing this movie does really well is to make bodies seem really weird and repulsive. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that it makes flesh seem weird and repulsive.

Kristine: Also, my understanding of the movie’s version of the pineal gland (and please correct me if I am confused) is that it taps into your true, primal desires. So it’s not like McMichaels and Tillinghast are “infected” by some demonic force that controls their actions. She really is a superfreak, and he really does want to consume brains. Their true selves are finally getting to express themselves, right? Also, the brain-slurping through the eye socket was… I have no words.

Sean: It might be more accurate to say that the pineal exaggerates those desires beyond control. Basically, the desires are there in all of us, not just them. I think that’s part of what the movie is arguing. Also, I realized that this is the movie that Hellraiser wishes it was.

Kristine: Agreed. Wait.

Sean: Pretorius is both Uncle Frank and the Cenobites combined into one being.

Kristine: I totally have the following in my notes: “This is Hellraiser! Dr. Pretorius = Uncle Perv.” (I couldn’t remember his name).

Sean: That’s amazing.

Kristine: I am dying. I also wrote “The box = the Resonator.” The key to this other dimension. Uncle Frank was all about opening and stimulating his pineal gland, right?

You have something in your eye…

Sean: Yeah, and it’s interesting that the men on this quest for new sensation and mystic understanding are constructed in both movies as sadists and misogynists. Hellraiser came out two years after From Beyond, but this movie had already done the “urge to see beyond leads to awful psychedelic mindfuckery” so much better.

Kristine: So, yes, I agree it’s more accurate to say the pineal stimulation creates this exaggeration of our collective true desires. We all have these primordial urges somewhere deep in our minds and we repress them to varying degrees. For example, Dr. Pretorius didn’t seem to do a whole lot of repressing his true, dark nature, which marks him as the ‘villian.’ I get that the flying whirl-blobs are some kind of manifestation that the Resonator allows us to see – but what are they a manifestation of? Those hidden desires? How are the worm-creatures in the air connected to the beast that bites Pretorius’s head off in the opening? I guess I am confused by the mechanics of what actually happens when the resonator “excites” the pineal gland. Can you break it down for me?

Sean: I can try. My understanding is that the Resonator stimulates the pineal gland and that has two effects: 1) It enlarges the pineal, which leads to an increase in sexual desire and other primal drives and 2) It allows us to “see” into another dimension that exists concurrently with our own.

Kristine: Okay, so the creatures and such are always there, but we can’t see them usually.

Sean: Yes, they’re always there. Remember, the pineal gland is referred to as “the third eye” in the film, connecting everything to Eastern religions and philosophies.

Kristine: Yes, and I want to address that in a bit.

Sean: So those creatures are always there, but we can only see them in the field of the Resonator.

Kristine: And they can only interact with us when that connection is made. Gotcha.

Sean: So those worm creatures are just these primordial creatures that live in the dimension of the Resonator.

BDSM Coma Wing of the Perv Hospital

Kristine: …And in Tremors.

Sean: Right. When they grow up, they become Graboids. If Val and Earl turned on the Resonator, they’d buttfuck so hard.

Kristine: Yes. So true. Did you think the Resonator itself was cool? I thought it was kind of lame. Like, tuning forks? How ominous is that? Not so much. And how McMichaels can close the portal to the other dimension and get rid of the creatures by… pulling an electrical cord out of the wall socket. I didn’t think that was very scary or innovative. I found all the medical labs in Re-Animator much creepier and cooler.

Sean: I love the Resonator times a million. Especially because of the mechanics and the notion that you have to simply ‘flip the switch’ to see beyond. You have this ease of control and that’s part of the problem. It’s a fucking metaphor for the goddamned Internet.

Kristine: I love that. I did love how McMichaels seriously couldn’t help herself and had to sneak in there and flip that switch. That was good.

Sean: I can’t stop thinking about wanting to ‘see beyond,’ to venture outside of my puny little subjective and isolated existence into the ether and the primordial mysteries of the universe. Kristine, I want to ‘touch others.’

Kristine:  Do you want to touch others with your elongated glow-worm bone fingers?

LSD Amoebas

Sean: I love the arc of the McMichaels character, from female RIMA (shades of Saffron Burrows in Deep Blue Sea) to leather-clad sexpot to woman-in-prison/snake pit to escaped mental patient to that fucking amazing ending. Best ending ever. I love a good downbeat ending.

Kristine: Yes. I really like how McMichaels is the one who wants to carry on. At first, she’s motivated by her utter belief in the importance of science. Like when she insists that they have to test the Resonator again because “all valid experiments must be repeated” (paraphrase). I don’t think she wants to do it again because she’s already affected by the pineal gland stimulation, I think that she’s in pure scientist mode there. I also liked how the male protagonist, Tillinghast, was a quivering emotional mess and she was Queen RIMA. And then, like you said, her about-face when the very forces and ideals she is most devoted to – the authority of science – turn against her when she is committed to the mental institution.

Sean: Just fyi, Dr. Bloch, the cold ass diva who hates McMichaels and has her committed, is my favorite thing in the movie.

Kristine: I liked Dr. Diva Ice Queen Be-yotch, too. But what about Dr. Molester Face?

Sean: Don’t even remember him. Who? Pretorius?

Kristine: The guy who was about to give McMichaels electroshock. And then he is interrupted and he is so disappointed that he can’t zap her brains out. He is like, leering down at her when she is strapped to the table/gurney (shout out to Re-Animator, again) and he is putting the electrodes on her temples. It is really gross and upsetting.

Sean: Right. I just considered him a throwaway goon and didn’t think about him. But, yeah, the doctors in this movie are all sadists. Can we address Bubba? He is one of the more problematic elements of the movie, no?

Kristine: Yes, he is a hugely problematic and clumsily-drawn character. Absolutely racially insensitive. But for some reason I don’t read Stuart Gordon or the movie as actually racist… More like they’re just clueless dorks when it comes to creating that character. I hate how a lack of intellectual curiosity is projected upon him time and time again, but ultimately he is savvy and knows what’s going on. So he is not just muscles and one-liners. My favorite piece of dialogue from Bubba: “I know this behavior, I’ve seen it in the streets. You may be a scientist but right now you’re acting like a junkie,” which he says to McMichaels when he catches her mounting and sampling Tillinghast’s no-no hole. The ‘I’ve seen it on the streets’ part is hilarious because, of course, he has to relate all his knowledge back to “the streets” because, hello, he’s black.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 5.35.40 PM

Sean: I loved that whole “Look at yourself!!!” moment a lot, and how Bubba growls, “You’re gonna get it,” when McMichaels is coming on to him.

Kristine: I loved that. Ultimately, Bubba is right about McMichaels and he is able to figure out The Resonator and it’s effect on people long before anyone else does. So, he’s a mixed bag, for sure.

Sean: Bubba has a lot of shit projected onto him: He’s the Black Guy, just because. He’s the Jock (former NFL). He’s also the Working Class Stiff (who like, doesn’t get the beauty of science and who doesn’t give a shit about ‘seeing beyond’).

Kristine: Right, totally. That’s what I meant about how a lack of intellectual curiosity is projected upon him time and time again. The movie definitely goes out of its way to show how Bubba is a totally different class of person from the intellectual whities. And this ‘different class of person’ just so happens to be a complete stereotype of the African-American male – brawn over brain, mucho macho, blah blah.

Sean: Yeah. One of the queerest and weirdest images in the movie, for me, is this one: Bubba, naked except for his maroon bikini briefs, all wet, muscles glistening, cradling a shirtless, bald Tillinghast in his arms like some giant baby/lover/AIDS patient covered in sores.

Kristine: Sean, I actually rewound it and played it back twice because the color of the recording was super-saturated and it was hard to see details and I was convinced that Bubba was actually stark naked and I could see his wang.

Sean: He does have a hot bod. Which is, of course, completely objectified in that moment.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 5.38.23 PM
Prequel to Powder

Kristine: There is no possible way that Stuart Gordon can claim the scene was filmed that way for any reason other than to ogle Ken Foree’s hot bod. Especially his glistening ass of wonder.

Sean: Yes.

Kristine: Remember, there was tons of homoerotic tension in Re-Animator, too. Is Gordon queer?

Sean: Bitchy Dr. Bloch, who gets her eye sucked out her head? That’s Stuart Gordon’s wife irl. I just think he’s got a queer sensibility and is a kinky freak.

Kristine: Okay, fair enough.

Sean: The most amazing image in this movie, for me, is Dr. Bloch with her forceps, frowning as she tries to fish Tillinghast’s pineal stalk out of the bloody gash in his forehead, and then screaming when it pops out and stares at her. I would put that image in my “Top 10 Iconic Horror Moments of all Time.”

Hermaphroditic head-hole

Kristine: Hahaha, yes. At first I thought that Tillinghast was going to be the protagonist of the movie, but really it’s McMichaels. Tillinghast is hysterical or unconscious for most of it. I did like the scene where he is munching down on that brain and then he suddenly realizes what he is doing and tosses it aside like it’s a sandwich he suddenly find unappetizing.

Sean: Yes. “It’s delicious…”

Kristine: Hee hee.

Sean: Where you blown away by the ending? The Gothic mansion exploding around her as McMichaels cackles and shrieks in hysteria, having been altered forever from having “seen beyond”?

Kristine: I loved the hysterical crying that segues into demonic cackling and “It ate him!” Loved. I read somewhere how the stranglehold irony has on society the last fifteen years has basically eradicated camp from pop culture. This movie made me realize how true that is and how fun and satisfying camp can be.

Sean: Right?

Kristine: Right.

Sean: The ending of From Beyond made me think about the gay brother and sassy sister at the end of the “Father’s Day” segment in Creepshow – their over-the-top, outsized reactions of horror and shock; these operatic expressions of terror. It made me realize, both the classic horror comic story and the classic Gothic tale are all about those moments of melodramatic hysteria, of loss of control. They’re modes of excess, and thus are considered base or feminine, or not “ART.” Soap opera gets the same short shrift.

Beekeeping is hard

Kristine: I know you don’t partake or approve, but I think that’s why the Real Housewives franchise and other ridiculous “reality” shows are embraced so widely. They offer some of that high-hysteria camp that most cultural mediums are lacking.

Sean: As did women’s “weepies” of the 1930s/1940s…

Kristine: That quality – the reveling in excessive modes of expression – is missing in the visual arts, too.

Sean: My only argument against reality tv like the Real Housewives franchise is that they are cynical constructed performances of “CAMP” (in scare quotes). Soap opera is sincere. Horror comics are sincere. A good B-movie is sincere. Artificial B-movies like Machete or Zombie Strippers also lack that sincerity.

Kristine: I get that. I am not saying that the Real Housewives shows are good examples of camp. I am saying that they are popular because people miss the camp aesthetic and how satisfying it is – and those shows are a pale facsimile, but the closest you can get to it in today’s regularly available commercial entertainment. It’s just so damn therapeutic to see people react and experience the entire spectrum of emotions to the hilt. And that’s what Crampton’s character does in From Beyond.

Sean: Yes. As do the queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Kristine: I was going to mention Drag Race.

Sean: I mean, we go there in Martyrs, right? And in The Descent? The line between the ending of From Beyond and the ending of The Descent is pretty direct, right?

Kristine: I never thought of movies like The Descent or Martyrs as having some camp/melodramatic elements, but, yeah, I think you may be onto something. The showdown between Juno and Sarah in The Descent is really no different than Joan Collins vs. Linda Evans on Dynasty, right? Fighting over someone stealing their man? And the smoking gun is a goddamn necklace? And then Sarah doublecrosses Juno? if you took out the cave setting and the monsters and the pickax to the knee and just described the plot points, someone would totally think it was a soap opera or chick flick. Also, as I think you alluded to, Sarah’s descent into madness mirrors McMichaels’ character arc in From Beyond. Same with Martyrs, especially in the first third, when Anna doesn’t know if Lucie is telling the truth or is just loca. Man, ladies descend into madness a lot in media.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 5.23.27 PM
Perverse birth in reverse

Sean: I always thought that’s because excess is marked as feminine – which is what makes something like the ending of Captain Phillips downright radical. It’s interesting to think about war movies in this context. Full Metal Jacket has moments of excess like this movie or The Descent does. Horror movies and war movies are two of the only places in culture where men are allowed to break down and have excessive bursts of outsized emotion.

Kristine: Oh, good point about war movies. I would say that Jacob’s Ladder absolutely falls into the category of male excess.

Sean: Yes. Men are excused from having to be strong and silent because of The Horrors of War.

Kristine: Right, exactly.

Sean: Whereas the guys who have breakdowns or moments of intense emotion on Grey’s Anatomy are considered to be just a bunch of pussies by the kinds of men who mock such shows.

Kristine: Yes, I think that is true. I have been binge-watching Scandal and how they represent their male characters fits the pattern you just outlined. The ones we see have big emotional meltdowns are either formerly mucho-macho in-control good guys who were horribly damaged by an evil force out of their control (Huck, Fitz) or… are gay (Cyrus, James).

Sean: Yep.

Kristine: I don’t really know anything about the pineal gland. I mean, I’ve heard of the third eye and chakras and all that, but I didn’t know this brain gland thing was what it is all about. But apparently, it’s oft-studied and wondered over by scientists, philosophers and freaky occultists alike. Am I just completely clueless? Did you know about it, and how “the acorn” is supposed to represent it so that any time an acorn is present (like on the papal staff and such) people react like it’s an Illuminati pyramid or some shit? I seriously knew none of this. I can do without the occult/conspiracy theory stuff, but I do love that in these modern times, parts of the brain are still mysterious and wondrous to humans. Like, we are still asking the same questions that people have been asking for hundred and hundreds of years.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 5.27.06 PM

Sean: This is one of the reasons I prefer From Beyond to Re-Animator – because this movie is actually about the human mind, about psychedelics, about the occult, about brain science and it ties in all this mythic stuff. The mystical elements of this movie have always delighted me and the movie’s suggestion that what mystics and holy men/women have always been studying overlaps and intersects with what scientists and philosophers have always been studying. I’ve always believed that poetry, religion, philosophy and science are all different dialects of the same language. From Beyond is based on that premise. I love that.

Kristine: I need to do a lot more research before I can state this with authority, but I feel like there are a lot of similarities between the mind/dimension-expanding component of the pineal gland and, like, Tim Leary’s LSD experiments.

Sean: Oh hell yeah.

Kristine: I like how, in the movie, the scientists are their own subjects in the quest for understanding, just like Leary.

Sean: This movie is located at the intersection of Tim Leary, Alistair Crowley and the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

Kristine: Plus, All My Children.

Sean: Also, BDSM. If I came to you and said, ‘Kristine, we built a Resonator,’ would you want to be there when we turned it on?

Kristine: God. I don’t know. If I was smart and sensible, the answer would be ‘hell no.’ I think nothing good can come from unleashing my true self. But since I have poor impulse control and am extremely curious, I probably couldn’t help myself.

Sean: I can so imagine you sneaking up into the Resonator lab to turn it on when you think everyone’s asleep.

Kristine: Oh completely. I would be all, ‘I’m just going to get a glass of water’ and then race down there to get my fix.

McMichaels has an Internet addiction problem

Sean: Also, just fyi, this movie captures the actual tone of Lovecraft’s stories much better than Re-Animator.

Kristine: Are any of his stories even about female protagonists?

Sean: Um, no. Which brings us back to that Uncle Frank/Dr. Pretorius parallel – that the boundary-pusher is usually a misogynistic male.

Kristine: Which again, makes McMichaels an anomaly, that she’s female and feminine and yet hungry for information and experience. Which ties into the real world conspiracy stuff – that the Catholic Church and other patriarchal organizations are trying to destroy or restrict access to the pineal gland because they want to keep people under their thumb. Controlling and expanding your mind/world and acting according to yourdesires and not the rules dictated to you by a governing force (the Church or otherwise) is considered a dangerous thing. Which always goes double for the ladies, which means that McMichaels is a kickass rebel… But it ends poorly for her, which I don’t like.

Sean: Yeah, but that’s what’s Lovecraftian about it. His protagonists are always pushing to know more, to open doors, to unlock gates, and to thereby unleash ancient and psychedelic evil.

Kristine: Can you clarify what you mean by Lovecraftian? Does he celebrate man striving to know more, to discover, to understand? Or does he warn against it, does it always have disastrous results? Or both?

Sean: I would say that the term ‘Lovecraftian’ applies to a lot of different things, but in this case it’s about the urge to know more and the horrible consequences of that. But also its about the inability of the human mind to handle what it sees/encounters when it opens the door/unlocks the gate/switches the Resonator on.

Kristine: So, Lovecraft says don’t do it? Or is it more like, humans are compelled to do it and always will, even though it will never end well?

Sean: The latter. He’s obsessed with the urge to know more and the tragedy that there are always terrible consequences.

Kristine: Got it.

Flesh fibers

Sean: Were you ever scared during From Beyond?

Kristine: Nah. I was intensely revolted by the elongated fingers of molestation. Like, I’m not sure if I can get over it. But not scared. You?

Sean: No, just enthralled and disgusted but loving it.

Kristine: It was disgusting and there are plenty of good, toe-ripping gore/ick moments, like the pineal stem plucking, the brain-eating via eye-hole, and the fucking elongated alien sex fiend fingers. But I thought the pink slime was overdone. I got kind of bored with it. Like, there was a great deal on drums of pink slime so they just threw it everywhere?

Sean: Alien cum?

Kristine: Not even. I wish. Just… pink slime.

Sean: Hahaha.

Kristine: Please say the elongated fingers were as horrific for you as they were for me.

Sean: Nope, sorry. I thought they were adorable.

Kristine: WTF. To punish you for saying that, I have compiled a short list of some search terms that have led upstanding citizens to Girl Meets Freak:

Cute lunch

“antichrist movie bloodcum”
“vanessa redgrave nun enema movies”
“really mad acne”
“can we change body like in skeleton key”
“teddy sears feet”
“quentin tarantino is a freak”
“I laughed at a serbian film”
“ooo sex sister balkan porno video”
“grieving widows desperet for sex erotic tubes”
and, simply: “damptits”

Sean: It was a delight to revisit this movie and I fell in love with it all over again. We didn’t even get to discuss… Bunny.

Kristine: Bunny?

Sean: The fat lady’s poodle.

Kristine: Oh God. The one with the hairnet, running around flapping her hands?

Sean: Yep. She’s the movie’s Greek chorus at the beginning and the end.

Kristine: She is my big, fat Greek chorus.

Sean: Indeed.

Ratings Roundup

The Girl’s Rating: Batshit Insanity AND Problematic but fun as hell AND Totally disgusting

The Freak’s Rating: Sleazesterpiece! AND Batshit insanity AND Totally disgusting


8 thoughts on “Movie Discussion: Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond (1986)

  1. Great analysis as always. I love this movie despite the overuse of rubber bits.

    Sean, can I guess from this that Ken Russell’s film of Altered States is right up your alley? I had the poster for that on my wall for years:

    “In the basement of a university medical school Dr. Jessup floats naked in total darkness. The most terrifying experiment in the history of science is out of control…”

  2. Pearce – OBSESSED with Altered States! Saw it as the second feature at a drive-in (after Superman II, I think) when I was 6 years old! I was supposed to be sleeping in the back seat for the “grown-up” movie, but I totally peeked and…. well you can imagine.

  3. Quick review from 06/13:

    “From Beyond (1986) – or Herbert West, Resonator.

    Whatever From Beyond (1986) is, it’s gotta be a classic of its kind. And really, I find it near impossible to improve upon (whatever it is that it tries to do…) Digital effects would only detract from its wet, slimy, slipperiness.
    Body horror? Transformation? It’s right up there with The Thing, or The Fly and even beats Akira or anything like that. It pushes the limits to straining point and goes beyond it.
    Even if the effects show the seams, this movie never lets go once it grabs hold.

    Could you re-do the Lovecraft story? Sure, but what would be the sense in trying and failing to remake this one? Society is a weak attempt at attempting something like this.

    Clearly in hysterical bad taste, so be forewarned. But if you liked Re-Animator and have not caught up with this one, do so immediately.

    Good call on Hellraiser.

    Also, not sure if you’ve got things like the new The Call of Cthulhu (2005), The Whisperer in Darkness (2011) & even The Color Out of Space (2010) in the queue.

  4. Haven’t seen Colour Out of Space, but I’ve seen the other two and didn’t like them very much…. Is Colour made by those same Lovecraft Society people?

  5. Nope, it’s a German film, I believe, and it has a more slow, meandering and poetic pace. There is very little dialogue and mostly in B&W with few color effects.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s