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From Beyond (1986)
From Beyond Makes Me Horny
The Persistence Of Memory (Apologies to Dali). A film viewed many, many years ago. A certain scene sticks in my head, has been there, and still remains there, surfacing from time to time. The film, suffice to say, is very much below par. It was just another in a long string of B horror films that my cousin Kirk and I rented from the video store when I would stay the night at his house. You see, I was not allowed to watch these sort of films in my own house. My parents were appalled at the gratuitous gore and sexually graphic nature that most of these films tended to delve into. But they always fascinated me, especially since they were banned in my own home, I would all the more want to watch them -- the deeper you hide the diamonds, the more the pirate attempts to seek them. I am by no means a "horror film buff", but in my youth these movies added a fair amount of adventure and uncertainty to my otherwise innocuous existence. Surprisingly, to this very day, I have a fairly vast and useless wealth of knowledge concerning cheesy, gory, stupid, and inept horror films of the 1980s.
But there was this one film called From Beyond and for some really strange reason, I have always remembered it. The film was a adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft book, and loosely tied in with the whole Re-Animator series. I never saw any of the Re-Animator films, so I didn't really have any reference to the actors, plots, filmmakers, etc...The only thing I knew was that these movies always followed the same basic clichéd format: the protagonist -usually a doctor, or some pretty woman, would invariably disturb some kind of mechanism, or mess around with an experiment, and hence a antagonist would materialize to wreak havoc on a small town, or a laboratory/hospital type location.
Well, in this film that's pretty much what happens. So, when Kirk wanted to rent this I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen. As I remember, the film progressed and had its fair share of cheesy chills and thrills. But, somewhere in the middle of the film it shifts, and for a little bit it almost becomes a soft porn. The pretty woman protagonist, who I found out is an actress named Barbara Crampton, becomes possessed (this is never really explained) and she proceeds to put on a bondage type of outfit and prances around a bit. She messes with the other protagonist, who had sustained an earlier injury, by trying to seduce him a little bit. In the context of the film this scene makes no sense at all. However, to my young and naive eyes, this was the best scene I had ever watched in a movie. Man, I didn't know what to think. I was excited and dumbfounded as to why this movie had a scene like that. Only years later did I realize that the other main ingredient in '80s horror films was a little bit of the IL' T&A. So after watching From Beyond, I didn't care about the film itself, only that one scene. I always remembered it, and I always knew it'd be in the video store if I hungered for any "visual stimuli". It was nice because I was too young and too scared to buy real porn at the liquor store, but I wasn't too young or embarrassed to rent this movie - which looked like a really bad horror movie as indicated by the artwork on the box. Ahhh, the treasure that was hidden just about thirty-five minutes into the movie. Suffice to say, the fast-forward and pause button was in constant use while watching From Beyond.
It's funny, just recently I was at the video store and happened to notice a copy of From Beyond in the horror section. I laughed to myself and thought of my youth - how much I didn't know in those days, how shy and naive I was back then. I started to walk away, but decided to reach down and pick up the box. For some reason, I found myself at the checkout counter with the video in my hands - along with new DVD's of actual films I wanted to see. "What the hell" I thought, as weird little smirk came across my face. I drove home and prepared to fire up the IL' VCR and have the fast-forward and pause buttons ready to go. Good times, good times
Les yeux sans visage (1960)
Interesting...for its time
Hmmm...I watched this film the other night and had mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it is fairly ahead of its time with somewhat "shocking" scenes, and a Bunuel/Lynch cinematography style. It plods along at times and some of the acting is really bad - especially the doctor, just plain terrible and annoying. But, the film is interesting, and short, which greatly helps propel the sometimes flimsy storyline. One thing I really hated about this film was the score, it just didn't fit very well. The score sounded like some sort of hyper active carnival music, and I thought the film could have been better if it had a more brooding, atmospheric, and minimal soundtrack. Films like "Eyes Without a Face" and "Lady in a Cage" really helped establish the modern day psychological thriller - at least in my opinion.
Endangered Species (1982)
The late night TV elusive species
I recall seeing Endangered Species on a late night movie channel when I was very young. Actually, it seemed to come on late night movie channels quite frequently from about 1985-1987. I remembered the film being mysterious, dark, and a little bit unsettling. I remembered strange parts of the film, especially the scene where germ warfare is put on a man's toothbrush, and the gruesome effects afterwards. Just recently I was remembering this film and could not recall the title. I asked numerous friends and co-workers and they offered no help. So, I spent about 2 hours, just for the sake of completion, trying to recall the name of this movie! I really had nothing to go on, because I could not remember any of the actors who were in it. Finally, thanks to the IMDB, I was able to do a complex search and eventually found the title to this elusive film. Of course I had to see it again. Trying to find this film to rent or buy was nearly impossible. I DID find a local video store who had an ancient copy. I rented it and was a little less than impressed. Still, Endangered Species seemed to retain its mysterious and disturbing effect on me. I think I over-hyped my expectations due to all the research I conducted. Anyway, The acting is sub-par, and the film quality is pretty bad. Robert Urich plays up his part pretty well, but comes off as a male chauvinist pig. Hey, this is the early 80's, they didn't give a S#*! about being "PC" then. Peter Coyote (from E.T. fame) is also in this movie. His plays a sneaky, sinister para-military type character. Endangered Species definitely conjures up some X-Files type conspiracy theories. The pacing is good, and it really does have a suspense ridden feel throughout. Supposedly Endangered Species is loosely based on real events. I kind of feel that I have wasted my time researching and re-watching this film. But like I said earlier, I just wanted to remember the title! I didn't think I would go so far as watching it again. Ah, well. At least now I can put it out of my head.