Monday, April 8, 2013

FROM BEYOND (Blu-ray & DVD)

"He used to bring beautiful women here... eat fine meals, drink fine wine, listen to music... but it always ended with screaming."

When Stuart Gordon made his directorial debut with 1985‘s gory adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's RE-ANIMATOR, he hit it out of the park with one of the smartest, most memorable horror films of the Eighties, and it seemed a hard act to follow. Surprisingly, his follow-up film, 1986's FROM BEYOND, was as good - if not better - than its predecessor. Now Shout! Factory brings Gordon's second stab at Lovecraft to Blu-ray as part of their new Scream Factory line.

Mad scientist Dr, Pretorius (Ted Sorel) and his assistant, Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs, RE-ANIMATOR)  create a machine that enables them, by stimulation of the pineal gland, to perceive a parallel reality populated by grotesque, monstrous beings. When their first experiment apparently leads to the death of Pretorius, a beautiful psychiatrist (Barbara Crampton, RE-ANIMATOR) and a police officer (Ken Foree, the original DAWN OF THE DEAD) escort the twitchy Tillinghast back to the isolated laboratory to re-create the experiment and prove that he didn't murder his colleague.

Loosely based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft, and filled with fantastic, pre-CGI "practical" effects, plenty of gore and slime, kinky sex and sheer, unbridled depravity, FROM BEYOND was pretty heady stuff for ’86, and suffered heavily at the hands of the MPAA, who demanded multiple trims before they’d grant it an "R" rating.In 2007, MGM released the film on DVD in an unrated "Director's Cut," which restored much of that trimmed footage.

That 2007 MGM DVD release was exceptional for its time, with a very nice transfer and a generous selection of supplemental materials. The new Scream Factory Blu-ray improves on that stellar release with a glorious 1080p HD transfer (cropped to a slightly tighter 1.78:1 aspect ratio), DTS Master Audio, and all of the DVD supplements, along with a slew of new extras.

To begin with, there are two terrific audio commentaries: one with Gordon and select members of the cast (ported over from the DVD), and the other with screenwriter Dennis Paoli (new). There are multiple "behind-the-scenes" featurettes, including a look at the film's special effects, and video interviews with Gordon, Crampton, Combs, composer Richard Band, and producer Charles Band. There are storyboards and still galleries, the original trailer, and a look at the 2007 restoration.

The enclosed DVD version includes all of the above with a standard-definition 1.78: anamorphic transfer and Dolby Digital Stereo audio.

With a talented cast that understands the genre, a unique visual look (courtesy of ace cinematographer Mac Ahlberg), and sharp direction by Gordon, FROM BEYOND stands as one of the most ambitious and original horror films of its era, and still has the power to shock and surprise today. Scream Factory's exquisite new edition, with its superb audio and visual presentation, comes highly recommended.

BUY:  From Beyond (Collector's Edition) [BluRay/DVD Combo] [Blu-ray]