Sunday, 22 May 2016

From Beyond

"From Beyond" (1986, Stuart Gordon, Empire Pictures) is a cult, sci-fi, body horror film based loosely on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft.

Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel) is a genius scientist with unusual fetishes who has developed a machine which allows people to see outside of the known reality by stimulating the sixth sense. Unfortunately, the machine's effects are addictive and, despite discovering that the other realm can access ours using the machine, Pretorius cannot allow himself to stop. His assistant, Dr. Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), is bitten by a creature from the other side and tries to stop the experiment, seeing it's destructive nature, but a larger creature comes through the void and kills Dr. Pretorius.

Dr. Tillinghast is locked up in an ward for the criminally insane, suspected of Pretorius' murder and no one will believe his outlandish story. No one, that is, until he meets determined blonde, Dr. McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) who, with her associate, Detective Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree), take Tillinghast back to the house to repeat the experiment and prove his innocence and sanity.

A funny cult film which enjoys close links to "Re-Animator" in casting, direction, behind the scenes team and special effects. While dated, it still stands as a fun, gross B-movie and captures the Lovecraft vibe. There's some funny patter between characters ridiculous dominatrix outfits, questionable science, floating eel creatures, humorous decapitations.... there's a lot going on in this film.

I like a bit of dated special effects and I have to appreciate the Lovecraftian creativity of this film's effects: they are both very fun and very squidgy. Definitely my kind of film. "From Beyond" is also really watchable and has an easy to follow plot that doesn't veer too off story like some other B-movies. It's silly, humorous and ludicrous in equal measures. Sheer campy horror frolics not to be taken seriously.

[Image: Empire Pictures]


Wednesday, 18 May 2016


"Bite" (2015, Chad Archibald, Black Fawn Films, Breathrough Entertainment) is a gross out body horror movie.

While on her exotic hen party weekend with her friends, in between drunken and disorderly behaviour, Bride-to-be Casey (Elma Begovic) is bitten by a bug. When she gets home she begins to have serious cold feet about getting married and her bug bite also becomes infected. But that's not all, she starts to change...

A low budget film that delivers some surprisingly disturbing gore reminiscent of, if naturally unequal to, Cronenberg's classic remake of "The Fly" and also Andy Stewart's 2014 short, "Split" ( Casey's transformation is both gross-out and entertaining and also highly likely to put you off of drinking bubble tea with strawberry boba for while.... Eew, Casey-spawn....

Aside from the fun effects the film doesn't offer anything ground breaking. The plot is relatively simple and the characters are all highly unlikeable: Casey is a moany flake, her betrothed is really pushy, her pals are self-interested bitches and her future mother-in-law is a presumptuous hag. It's safe to say I didn't become emotionally attached to any of them in any way.

I did, however, feel my lunch threatening to come back up several times and I think that's a fairly good sign that this body horror film did its job. So while you might not find the film particularly enthralling, if you can stomach it, it has a pretty good gore pay-off.

I'm kind of glad I'm not going abroad for my hen party now though....

[Image: Black Fawn Films, et al]

Saturday, 14 May 2016


"Pumpkinhead" (1988, Stan Winston, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group) is a supernatural horror about revenge.

The film starts with a scene set in the late 50s where we see a farmer, Tom Hardy, and his wife and child, Ed, hiding in their farmhouse as a neighbour tries to seek entry to escape from something. Tom warns the man to leave or he will be shot. The family then witness the man being killed by a demonic creature.

Fast forward to the 80s, the film continues to follow Ed (Lance Henriksen) who has a young son of his own and runs a store. He leaves his son and their dog, Gypsy, as he runs a short errand just as a bunch of teenage campers show up with dirt bikes. Gypsy runs out, followed by the little boy, to chase the bikes and the kid is hit and killed by one of the campers. In despair, Ed takes his child's body to a witch who tells him that she cannot raise the child back to the living, but she can help him wreak is revenge. Ed readily agrees to follows the witch's orders to dig up a twisted corpse from an old graveyard.

The witch raises the twisted body into a demon called Pumpkinhead who then goes on a spree, killing the campers responsible for Ed's son's death. With each death, Ed begins is effected, seeing the killings from the perspective of the demon. The revenge won't bring back what he has lost, but does he have more to lose than he realised?

The film's effects and use of animatronics still stand up exceptionally well to today's films. Although the film doesn't offer anything ground breaking and the plot is a little thin in places, I really enjoyed it. The monster is well designed and gory, there's a sub-plot with a cautionary tale and the action is silly, but enjoyable. It makes for a fun 80s romp.

[Image: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group]