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From Beyond Is Gross, Schlocky Sci-Fi — And That’s Why I Love it

It’s never been easier to watch this ‘80s cult classic.

From Beyond movie
Empire Pictures
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Awash in bisexual lighting, Dr. Edward Pretorius stalks his prey. The brilliant scientist has fused with something otherworldly, an eldritch being from another dimension, transforming him into a horrific monster almost impossible to comprehend.

Welcome to the world of From Beyond, the second film (and second H.P. Lovecraft adaptation) from schlock horror maestro Stuart Gordon and his merry band of conspirators. Following the release of the cult classic Re-Animator, Gordon assembled the same team both behind and in front of the camera to create this 1986 sci-fi thriller.

Earlier this month, From Beyond made the leap to Prime Video, where it’s available to stream with your Amazon subscription. Here’s why this bizarre ‘80s relic is worth checking out today.

From Beyond centers around a strange invention called the Resonator: a machine capable of stimulating a human’s pineal gland. But it also has a second, unintended purpose. When activated, the device allows anyone within range to interact with disturbing Lovecraftian beings from a parallel dimension. During one of his experiments, Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel) is murdered by the creatures while his assistant Crawford (Jeffrey Combs) escapes.

The police later find Pretorius’s beheaded body and arrest Crawford, locking him in a mental institution where he meets Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton). After running some brain tests, McMichaels confirms that his pineal gland is actively growing and decides to return to the scene of the crime for further testing, dragging along Crawford and an unfortunate police detective played by Dawn of the Dead star Ken Foree.

From here, the movie oscillates between two modes. When the machine is activated, the house becomes bathed in pink, blue, and purple light, unleashing terrifying monsters and an increasingly slimy Dr. Pretorius who seems capable of transforming his body in any way he desires but mostly just wants to grope Barbara Crampton. When the machine is off, the house returns to normal while our heroes continue to spiral into insanity.

From Beyond is, in a word, gross.

Empire Pictures

From Beyond is, in a word, gross. The impressive special effects — a mix of prosthetics and animatronics with some unfortunate CGI thrown in where the budget ran out — come together to create a slimy and surreal world that seems to exist just one dimension over from ours. Pretorius, in particular, is a viscous nightmare to behold, becoming more and more gruesome each time he returns.

The movie is so disturbing it almost failed to get an R rating. In an interview for the book Film Directors on Directing by John Andrew Gallagher, Gordon revealed that the Motion Picture Association of America initially felt From Beyond was simply too graphic to be seen. Ultimately, by editing out just enough of those gross special effects, Gordon was able to cinch an R rating. In hindsight, he argued that the edits actually helped the film by showing the audience less, thereby giving them fewer opportunities to figure out his cinematic tricks.

“Humans are such easy prey.”

Empire Pictures

If all of the above is making you feel squeamish, this isn’t the movie for you. Like the Re-Animator before it, From Beyond excels at a type of gross campy horror that only Stuart Gordon seems to truly understand. You have to not only tolerate the grossness but enjoy it or at least appreciate it on an artistic level to find any redeeming value in the experience.

If that’s not you, there are plenty of other movies out there. But if From Beyond is your type of horror and you’ve somehow missed until now (or haven’t watched it in a while) take advantage of this easy access while you still can.

From Beyond is streaming now on Amazon Prime (and also on Tubi).

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