Monday, October 4, 2010

Bald Mountain Night 4: From Beyond

Each day in October, intrepid blogger Alex Boivin will watch a horror movie. These movies are all new to him and are part of his month-long effort to fill in his gaps in the horror canon. If he doesn't die from fright, you just might get to read about about his exploits in cinema during the Halloween season.

H.P. Lovecraft is probably my favorite horror author, and definitely one of my faves overall. Last year, I took a look at the fan-made silent film adaptation of Lovecraft's most famous story The Call of Cthulhu and found its handmade feel and enthusiasm for the source material quite charming. This time around, I'm approaching director Stuart Gordon's From Beyond.

Gordon's career is effectively built upon film adaptations of Lovecraft's stories; he has the bona fide splatter classic Re-Animator under his belt though outside of Fangoria subscribers he hasn't quite broken through to the mainstream. As a big Re-Animator fan, I was curious to see what else Gordon could do with another Lovecraft story.

The story is that of Crawford Tillinghast (played by Weyoun), a physicist seeking to find a way to interact with another dimension. After an experiment goes awry, Tillinghast's boss Edward Pretorious is killed and Crawford is committed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Soon however, Pretorious returns as an extradimensional monster...from beyond.

If Re-Animator was of the Evil Dead school of horror, From Beyond belongs to that of Videodrome; it is strict body horror. Limbs and bodies mutate and create all sorts of gross, alienating messes. From Beyond has some interesting, if shallow insights into psychology and neuroscience (a lot of stuff on the Cartesian notion of the pineal gland leading to the ability to see into another dimension) but sometimes gets too bogged down into thinking it was directed by David Cronenberg. In particular, a subplot about S&M feels a little Skinemax-ish. That being said, not bad for a movie based on a seven page short story.

But was it scary? Not really. Often gross and cool creature effects, but nothing all that terrifying, though I am somewhat concerned about my pineal gland.

Final Verdict: 40 Congos