From Beyond fits in nicely with other 80’s horrors featuring characters who explore the outer limits of bodily experience, like Brain Damage (1988), Hellraiser (1987), Society (1989) and Teen Wolf Too (1987). Maybe it was a topic on everyone’s mind, or maybe they were just getting around to ripping off David Cronenberg. This one has an S&M-tinged sex theme to its body horror (as opposed to the blatantly S&M-drenched sex theme in Hellraiser or the hallucinogenic drug theme to Brain Damage). Movie never takes itself seriously, dialogue and character behavior a bit on the stupid side, still totally worth seeing.
Movie stars everyone’s favorite lunatic Jeffrey Combs as a research assistant to weirdo Dr. Pretorius in a big spooky house. They succeed in their attempts to create a crazy machine that magnetically taps into the pineal gland, psychically revealing a new dimension of reality where swimming, bitey eel creatures and larger, darker things lurk. One of these things bite Pretorius’s head off, and Combs is committed to an ethically unsound institution by some questionable cops. He is released into the care of an even more ethically unsound psychiatrist, Dr. Katherine (the hot girl from Re-Animator), and taken along with somewhat-competent cop Ken Foree (from Dawn of the Dead!) back to the old house to reignite the experiments for no clear reason. They just hang out doing experiments until Pretorius reemerges all messed up from the alternate dimension and starts to gain control over everything. Oh, also our heroes’ newly-awakened pineal glands make ’em want to have kinky lite-S&M sex with each other.
The horror and monsters escalate towards the end, there’s a sidetrack visit back to the hospital (where our psychiatrist is just rescued from shock therapy), Ken finally dies (eaten by a million black insects), and Jeffrey and Pretorius destroy each other in the end. Final shot is pretty great, Dr. Katherine going mad, just like Jeffrey apparently did at the end of the opening sequence.
Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna have built their careers on filming HP Lovecraft stories… you could certainly find worse things to do with your time. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this screenplay isn’t very close to the source material, especially the funny/campy parts.
Wikipedia: “The pineal gland is occasionally associated with the sixth chakra (also called Ajna or the third eye chakra in yoga) or sometimes the Seventh (Crown) chakra. It is believed by some to be a dormant organ that can be awakened to enable telepathic communication.”