Monday, February 22, 2010

DVD Spotlight: From Beyond (Unrated Director's Cut).

From Beyond (Unrated Director's Cut) (1986)
DVD Release Year: 2007.
Released by: MGM Home Entertainment.
Region: Region 1.
Starring: Jeffrey Combs; Barbara Crampton; Ken Foree; Ted Sorel; Carolyn Purdy-Gordon.
Directed by: Stuart Gordon.
Colour/86 Minutes/NR

Demented Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) and his meek assistant Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs) finish work on a machine called the "Resonator". The machine, when turned on, allows otherwise invisible creatures from another dimension to become visible to us. However, it also allows said creatures to see us too, and it turns out they are quite hungry. The night ends with Pretorius missing his head, and Tillinghast having taken an axe to the Resonator. He's found by the police, both out of his mind and blamed for the murder of his mentor. He's sent to the nuthouse where he tells his story to Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton). A scan of his brain reveals that his pineal gland has grown, apparently because of the Resonator. Interested in the effects on the brain the machine has, McMichaels wants to go back to the scene of the crime, with Tillinghast, in order to turn the Resonator back on. In tow for protection is detective, Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree). However, what they don't know is that Pretorius isn't quite dead and the machine is having a much more dramatic effect on Tillinghast than anyone of them could imagine. What follows is an insane series of events including attempted brain-eating; successful brain eating; a giant worm in the basement; killer, flesh-eating bugs from another reality; Barbara Crampton getting horny and putting on Pretorius's S&M gear; Jeffrey Combs losing all of his body hair and having his pineal gland grow out of his skull and start calling the shots. With its good performances by genre pros; interesting ideas; great special effects (for the most part); it's a crazy, sexy (and quite gooey) '80s horror classic.

This was Stuart Gordon's second H.P.Lovecraft adaptation after Re-Animator, and this film had been criminally censored and over-looked for years. Previously it had only been released in horrible chopped-up VHS versions and ultra-crappy DVD releases, where the gore and S&M elements had been toned down for an R rating. It was thought that all of the stuff that had been chopped out of it had been thrown away, but someone came across a film can that contained quite a bit of the work print cuts. So, discovering this, Gordon and crew started to put back in as much as they could and clean up the work print segments so they would match the rest of the film. So now we have this unrated director's cut -- Ahh, the wonders of the DVD! Granted, this ends up only adding a few extra minutes of running time, and there was so much more that's been lost forever, but what we do get is pretty damn good. The other extras are pretty good too, but really only the commentary stands out, as you get Gordon, Combs, Brian Yuzna, and Crampton reunited. It's both fun and interesting as Gordon and Yuzna go over the history and various production details and Combs and Crampton relate fond memories and crack jokes. If you're a fan of this film you'll dig the extra gore... especially the moments involving Tillinghast turning into a brain-eating ghoul: there's the famous sucking of the brain through an eye socket scene that's been fully restored here. It's so nasty and beautiful at the same time. This is one of my favourites, and it's nice to see it finally re-released, this time with its balls intact.

DVD Information:

Video: 1.85:1.
Audio: English 5.1.
Subtitles: English; French; Spanish.
--Scene Selections.
--Audio Commentary by Director Stuart Gordon and Cast.
--The Director's Perspective Featurette.
--The Editing Room: Lost and Found Featurette.
--Interview with the Composer.
--Photo Montage.
--Storyboard to Film Comparisons with Introduction.

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