(1986) dir. Stuart Gordon
H.P. Lovecraft was not really ever recognized in his time, but somewhere along the 20th Century, he was brought back to culture, and then eventually came to have a huge influence on the culture of Horror writing and filmmaking, both in adaptations, concepts, and style. Yet, he’s still on the obscure side, even now, probably to the world at large.
Writer/director Stuart Gordon, along with writer/director Brian Yuzna nearly single(?)-handedly brought his work to film culture in the 1980’s and 1990’s and nowadays, the film adaptations are all over the place. If you look up Lovecraft in the IMDb, you see only a handful of adaptations starting in the 1960’s (he died in 1937) before Stuart Gordon got a hold of him in Re-Animator (1985), a cult classic of its time. Stuart went on to direct From Beyond, Castle Freak (1995), and Dagon (2001), all from Lovecraft works. And Yuzna went on to direct Bride of Re-Animator (1990) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003) from Lovecraft, though he also wrote and produced many of Gordon’s works, too.
Gordon is kind of an interesting director in the B-movie, cult world, having also directed Robot Jox (1990) a proto-Transformers sort of thing, Space Truckers (1996) whose name probably speaks for itself, and even Edmond (2005) which I heard was interesting, and the one I most recently watched, Stuck (2007). He also wrote the story for the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), not that that is a plus, but more just a demonstration of the odd breadth of his work.
From Beyond is a solidly strange and gory 1980’s horror flick with some good effects. A mad scientist (professor) who is obsessed with a world “beyond” our world, though in co-existence with ours. A part of the brain can be stimulated to make the other world visible. Unfortunately, that other world is populated with all kinds of strange monsters, some a eel-like, others like floating jellyfish with lots of sharp teeth. And of course, you need to die to evolve into this other realm, but then you can “see” hallucinatory visions. But then you seem to crave eating brains. And you become in a constant state of sexual arousal. And you transform into all kinds of wiggling spewing flesh.
The film is neither overly serious nor overly comic, riding a line of absurdity, while keeping a foot on the ground of genuine attempt at being frightening. It’s got a lot going for it, really. It’s gross, strange, comic, absurd, fantastic and weird. What would Lovecraft have thought of it? I don’t really know. He’s a mysterious figure himself, but he’s got a solid cult following which I think that these movies helped to accentuate 20 some odd years ago. And I’m going to have to re-visit more of Gordon’s work.