Time for the second Jeffrey Combs joint of the season. This time around he gets to be in a much better film than the last one I reviewed. I’ve always loved the “body horror” sub-genre and From Beyond has been touted as one of the best. Having just finished watching it, I can definitely say that they weren’t lying. There is some seriously nasty body warping shenanigans going on in this movie.
The movie starts with brilliant scientist Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Combs) having finally perfected an experiment that will allow humans to use the pineal gland as a kind of “third eye” so they can see into another dimension. Unfortunately, when you see into their dimension, they can see you too and so his partner Dr. Pretorius ends up being attacked and killed by an otherworldly monster but Crawford takes the blame. Now the only person willing to believe his story is psychiatrist Katherine McMichaels but in order to prove that what he said happened actually happened, he will have to recreate the experiment that caused the death in the first place. Along for the ride is Bubba, an ex-NFL player turned cop that feels like an O.J. Simpson reference from the Naked Gun.
Like a lot of the best body horror movies out there, From Beyond blends the sexual with the grotesque to amplify the repulsion of the viewer. The vibrational field of the experiment triggers the pineal gland for not only a second sight but also increases the sexual arousal of those in the field. Having a gross, dripping, half-melted thing with the face of Dr. Pretorius be the one “kissing” Katherine makes for a super uncomfortable time. The pineal gland of Dr. Tillinghast ends up becoming so engorged by the experiments that it breaks out of his skull giving him a little forehead penis. The experiment also becomes addictive such that even when McMichaels knows that the things on the other side want to kill her, she stills wants to go back.
Much as I loved the awesome practical effects for all the gross body stuff, the movie also ends up being kind of strange in a few places. Like when Tillinghast is put in the mental hospital because of his story of how his associate died, that makes sense because it’s a crazy story. When a noted psychiatrist then comes back with him corroborating his story and you see there is the corpse of a burly police officer that has been obviously mutilated in a way that they couldn’t have done; why is nobody else even considering that maybe it’s true? Crawford has a damn pineal dong coming out of his forehead. Perhaps something strange actually is going down. Also, I love that at the end Katherine goes to blow up the machine and takes off from the hospital in a stolen car but arrives at the house carrying a bomb with a big timer on it. Where does one get a bomb like that at that time of night? Was there one in the truck she stole? What was the plan if Bombs R Us was closed?
Seeing this just reminds me how much I love a good practical effect movie. The film also has some CGI eel things that are in the other dimension and it is amazing how much worse they look than even the worst practical effect. I give the movie a 4 out of 5 and if you aren’t the type to get squeamish then I’d recommend checking it out.
Favorite part of the movie: I appreciated the Jesus imagery of Dr. Pretorius showing up in the other dimension and him telling Crawford to come and touch him if he doesn’t believe. Nice doubting Thomas reference.
Least favorite part: The movie is super kink shamey. The fact that Pretorius was into bondage means he was a weirdo and then when they want to show that Katherine is being influenced by the machine, she dresses in a leather get up. Oh the 80s.