The worry with watching an ’80s classic for the first time is that you won’t get the same impact as people who watched it back then. We often wonder how, for example, The Thing would be regarded by young people now and then we think ‘fuck them’ because we don’t care. Luckily, From Beyond is a great film that mixes classic ’80s aesthetics with some legit bodyshock horror.
The plot, apparently based on a H.P. Lovecraft short story, sees two physicists experimenting on the pineal gland in an attic and accidentally opening up a gateway to another dimension. One of them dies (thanks to a trans-dimensional worm thing eating his fucking head) and the other, Crawford Tillinghast (played by the ever-intense Jeffrey Combs of Re-Animator fame) ends up a nervous wreck in an institution. He is then coerced into recreating the experiment by the morally-ambiguous Dr. Katherine McMichaels and so they return to the house, this time protected by a Detective Bubba Brownlee, who is some sort of ex-American footballer.
Anyway, the experiment is a success and that’s when everything starts to go wrong. Crawford goes back to his jumpy self, Bubba is pissed off because weird bitey shit in getting up in his face from another dimension and Katherine ends up addicted to having her pineal gland stimulated and ends up turning into some sort of pineal crack whore.
In the meantime, Dr. Edward Pretorius (Crawford’s former partner in the original experiment) has morphed into some sort of super-powered sex pest who likes to women’s heads and he manages to break through into our realm, while resembling the final form of The Thing. Eventually, they end up somewhat worse for wear outside the house. To the film’s credit the finale ramps up both the scares and the shocks and even throws in a sure-fire future addition to our Worrying Bleak Deaths of the ’80s series.
From Beyond really wasn’t what we were expecting. The title suggests a sci-fi space horror but this is more in line with films like Flatliners and the spectacular practical effects and insane plot really do elevate it from the usual genre stereotypes.
The use of neon colours gives the film such a great ’80s feel but the gruesomeness puts it on another level, even if it’s the kind of thing that’d make a modern cinema audience giggle like seated cunts at. If you respect your horror movies though, this is actually pretty scary.
Of course this means we have to go back to the Re-Animator films now. It’s been a looooong time.