Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Midnite Madness: From Beyond


I love Stuart Gordon.

Not in a half-assed, I love Re-Animator and thus feel an affection for him way.

I enjoy and admire nearly all of his work, including less acclaimed works like Fortress and Space Truckers.

But until last night, the movie of his it had been the longest since I had seen was From Beyond, one of his most acclaimed movies. Not only that, but a movie I remembered quite fondly from my younger days.

I can't say I'm anything but glad to have made the wait. Seeing this newly restored version, as a more adult viewer, I must say this is something of a revelation. It's not a better movie than Re-Animator, but I think it is a more mature one.

Gordon and screenwriter Dennis Paoli take the short story, From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft, as a jumping off place for an imaginative story about a psychiatrist who takes a schizophrenic man to recreate the experiments that drove him to his possible madness.

It's certainly not a perfect story. Those involved point out several popular nitpicks on the commentary, most of which made me roll my eyes as serious nitpicks more than they did as plot problems during the proper flow of the movie itself. More than those, I felt that the missing scene that apparently Gordon cut himself prior to the scissors of the MPAA reaching the movie and thus immune from the saving hand of editor Lee Percy is one in which Dr. Edward Pretorius drives a nail into the tongue of a young woman with whom is engaged in a BDSM relationship. The mere nature of the relationship may have seemed like it would suggest to an audience of his perversion in 1986, but in 2007, when as Dan Savage says, "Bondage is the new oral sex", that extra something might have made the point better.

Atrocious (and misleading) DVD cover art aside, this long anticipated restored DVD release is the answer to the dreams of many horror fans.


2 comments:

cinebeats said...

It's great to read some Stuart Gordon love! I really like him a lot too, even some of his straight-to video Full Moon flicks as well like Robot Jox and his underrated Pit and the Pendulum remake.

Confession time...

I'm a big Full Moon fan! They helped keep horror interesting in the early '90s. Without them my inner horror/sci-fi film fanatic might have gone nuts.

I was really happy when I heard that From Beyond was finally getting a DVD release. I think it's just as good as Re-Animator, but it's a different film and more "mature" might be a a good way to describe it.

And what is up with that crappy cover art for the DVD? I almost missed seeing the film sitting on the shelf at my local Borders last night. Bad cover art really annoys me. I wish companies would just stick to the original poster art when they release films but I guess some half-ass graphic artist needed work.

Neil Sarver said...

Thanks for your comment.

Indeed, I considered both of the movies you mentioned as my examples, and am indeed quite fond of both. The two I picked are, however, are the ones that I most often get the look I'd expect from others were I to say "Gee, this men's room smells terrific!" when I note my enjoyment of them.

Robot Jox is probably my least favorite Stuart Gordon movie, which frankly speaks more to my love of his work than my dislike of it, since it's a fun movie that I enjoy quite a bit.

I'll confess here that, while I've enjoyed what I've seen, I've not seen a whole lot of the Full Moon titles from that period.

I'm not convinced that a graphic artist whose work is that poor deserves work. I would be an absolutely terrible graphic artist, but even I could do better than that. But then I feel that way about most of the DVD cover designs these days.

Mind you, the original From Beyond art (pictured in the post, for anyone unaware), is hardly my favorite horror poster of the time period, and I can see why someone felt it was worth attempting to create something a little different...

And, I must say, this art is struggling desperately to do the things I'd have told a graphic artist to try... Bring in more color to capture more the feeling of the movie, bring in more of the sci-fi element, blah, blah, blah...

But it fails so miserably at creating an aesthetically pleasing or even just eye-grabbing image and doesn't feel like it represents the movie itself at all. Looking at it, the person in charge should have sent the assignment to a qualified artist or simply shrugged and gone back to the original poster art, which certainly is evocative and eye-grabbing. That art is just plain embarrassing and to bad, because a lot of work clearly went into restoring the movie itself and providing some entertaining and informative extras. And while that is certainly, for me, the important part, it is like the marketing department decided to take a crap all over their work by making it an awful eye-sore that only existing fans of the movie would ever make the effort to purchase or rent.

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