This press release just landed in my inbox and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. From Beyond is one of my favorite horror films of the 80s, and it’s been MIA on DVD for far too long. In fact, I don’t think I have seen From Beyond in years and years.
Last summer I talked to Ken Foree and he mentioned that there was word about a new edition of this film coming to DVD, with restored scenes, but it’s been all quiet on that front for some time – until now! Gore fans rejoice – Stuart Gordon’s follow-up to the brilliant Re-Animator is going to be better and bloodier than ever. And before it comes to DVD, From Beyond will be premiering on Monsters HD, the only 24 hour horror channel out there.
Here’s the text of the release:
World Premiere of restored “Director’s Cut” to air June 10
at 8pm on Monsters HD in advance of DVD debut.
New York, NY (March 1, 2006) – Time Magazine called it a “Bloody good entertainment” while Roger Ebert said that it “establishes [Stuart Gordon] in the tradition of Hollywood horror directors who really try – directors including James Whale, Tod Browning and Roger Corman”. Released in the fall of 1986, Stuart Gordon’s FROM BEYOND, H.P. Lovecraft’s tale of an ambitious scientist’s experiments to discover a sixth sense, shocked and delighted horror fans and critics everywhere much in the same way that his previous Lovecraft adaptation, RE-ANIMATOR, did in the fall of 1985. But beyond the film’s monstrous creatures and scientific mutations there lurked an even more dreaded entity, one that almost destroyed the film, its makers, and its audience: The MPAA. Forced to cut his film by the MPAA in order to get an “R” rating, Gordon has waited two decades for his vision of FROM BEYOND to escape the darkness and now, to commemorate the film’s 20th anniversary, Monsters HD and Stuart Gordon have teamed up to finally bring the “Director’s Cut” of FROM BEYOND to terrifying light.
In 1986, Gordon, who also founded Chicago’s famed Organic Theater, had just come off of RE-ANIMATOR, which screened at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival and quickly became a worldwide hit with critics and audiences – all without a rating. As a result, Gordon says, “They were very upset and, I think, trying to get revenge for the un-rated RE-ANIMATOR. So we had to submit the film at least a dozen times, maybe more”. According to Gordon, meeting with the ratings board “was like going to the principal’s office to get scolded. They sat me down and the woman I was meeting with said, ‘This is disgusting. Instead of pulling away you keep pushing in and pushing in and pushing in!’ and I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’ We ended up cutting out over a minute’s worth of material to finally get it released with an R-rating. They really took out some of the best stuff”. Gordon describes the experience as “a real ordeal, this process just went on and on, and the distribution people were screaming, ‘We’ve got a release date, you’ve got to make those cuts’”. The director proudly discusses one scene in particular that really got him into trouble. “The scene that upset them the most (and as I describe it, it is truly disgusting) is when Jeffrey Combs’ character’s pineal gland has gone out of control and he’s hungry for brains. He attacks a psychiatrist, played by my wife [Carolyn Purdy-Gordon], and he plants his mouth onto her eye socket and starts sucking. And the material that was cut out was when he actually sucks her eyeball out, spits it onto the floor and the eyeball lands looking back up at him and he continues to suck her brains through the eye socket and the camera pushes in. It’s really disturbing and it’s the longest restored piece, my guess is it’s about 30 seconds or so. I think it’s the most horrific moment in the whole movie.”
Upon its release in October of 1986, FROM BEYOND was a success with both critics and audiences and went on to cult classic status once it was released on video. But there was always something missing. “People started asking me if we would release a director’s cut. I went back looking for the material and even went looking through warehouses trying to find it and was told it had been thrown out. The movie moved from one company to another after [original distributor] Empire Pictures went under, so about five years after the release I gave up on it. So whenever people asked me about it I would tell them it was gone forever”.
But like a re-animated corpse, FROM BEYOND just wouldn’t stay dead. “A year ago last Christmas, I got a call from MGM saying ‘We’ve got a film can with this material and we don’t know what it is, could you come down and take a look at it?’ The can had been marked by my editor, Lee Percy, and it said ‘For the video release’, and inside were all the little trims that the MPAA had objected to. Everything was great until MGM was bought by Sony, and all the people I was dealing with were no longer there.” The resurrection of his original vision in jeopardy once again, Gordon luckily found an ally in Monsters HD president David Sehring. “He told me that they would be airing FROM BEYOND and knew about the discovery of the missing material. He said ‘How about if Monsters HD pays to have it done?’ which I thought was great. Things began to move forward again.”
Debuting on the VOOM Satellite service in October 2003 (and now available on Dish Network’s HD package), Monsters HD is America’s only 24-hour horror movie network, broadcasting world premiere HD transfers of genre classics from every era. Having broadcast RE-ANIMATOR in the past, Monsters HD General Manager David Sehring was eager to show FROM BEYOND on the network. “Being a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft and Stuart Gordon’s work (they go hand-in-hand you know) I licensed the television rights to FROM BEYOND for MONSTERS HD. Having known about this holy grail of horror and the controversy surrounding it, I made it a mission for MONSTERS HD to restore FROM BEYOND’s long-lost footage for all the world to see. Monsters HD makes every effort to preserve and present rare director’s cuts and European versions of horror movies when the film elements are made available to us. I asked Stuart Gordon as well as MGM & Sony’s technical services departments if they could work together to restore the legendary missing footage into a new high definition transfer for MONSTERS HD’s broadcast. After some questions as to where the lost footage was, the work of transferring the material to High Definition and reconfiguring the cut material into the film was supervised by Stuart”.
According to Sehring, “The restoration of FROM BEYOND was truly a ‘search and rescue’ effort. The biggest challenge of doing the restoration was locking down the location of the lost materials. Having worked on AMC’s Film Preservation Festival for over 10 years, I discovered that playing detective and reporter, while asking the right questions, is always valuable. Luckily, the folks at MGM and Sony came to Stuart’s and MONSTERS HD’s rescue by finding the material that was cut from the FROM BEYOND work print. MGM & Sony re-transferred the material for us to High Definition and had to do a little digital clean-up and color correction in addition to some sound work and design – again – all supervised by the one and only Stuart Gordon”. Along with the restored footage, Monsters HD’s broadcast of FROM BEYOND will also feature a new 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack. For this to happen, some new sound work was done in early 2006. “This material was cut before the movie was mixed, so all that exists for it is the sound that was recorded on stage, which was mono, so we have to mix it back into the film”, reports Gordon. “Plus I think we need some of those really truly disgusting sound effects for that brain-sucking scene”, while Serhing says he hopes to hear “some delicious slurping sounds in 5.1 stereo surround that will accentuate some ‘eye –popping’ visuals in High Definition!”
Monsters HD’s world premiere broadcast of FROM BEYOND coincides with a renewed interest in the renowned author H.P. Lovecraft, who died in 1937. In the last few years there have been over a dozen films based on Lovecraft’s writings which include Gordon’s recent episode of MASTERS OF HORROR, DREAMS IN THE WITCH-HOUSE, the best-selling videogame CALL OF CTHULHU: DARK CORNERS OF THE EARTH from Bethesda Softworks, as well as Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming adaptation of AT THE MOUNTIANS OF MADNESS. Monsters HD will also be celebrating the author’s legacy by airing such Lovecraft-related films as THE UNNAMABLE, DIE MONSTER DIE and Dan O’ Bannon’s THE RESURRECTED. But Lovecraft has had no better champion than Stuart Gordon, who has adapted the author’s works in five films: RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, CASTLE FREAK (loosely based on Lovecraft’s “The Outsider”), DAGON, and DREAMS IN THE WITCH-HOUSE.
With the restored FROM BEYOND now set to air, Stuart Gordon is looking forward to seeing his maligned masterwork in its restored version in High Definition. He says, “The transfer is really stunning. Mac Ahlberg, the D.P., did a beautiful job and it’s got all these lurid colors. It was fun to see it again and to see it looking so good. I think it holds up pretty well. Everything that was trimmed by the MPAA is now back in the movie and it was great to see it restored. I had a wonderful feeling after it was done. An enormous sense of relief.” And David Sehring says of the restoration process, “As you know, Monsters HD’s tagline is ‘It’s Alive!’ We really take that to heart as we re-master films, like FROM BEYOND. Monsters HD hopes to bring forth more frights ‘from beyond’ and will continue to dig up long lost footage and film elements from the hallowed vaults of our favorite monster movie studios”.
About Monsters HD
It’s Alive! Launched in October 2003, MONSTERS HD is television’s first and only, definitive channel dedicated to the popular horror & creature feature category. From the classic horrors of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman to prehistoric giants like King Kong and Godzilla, to supernatural terrors like The Evil Dead and The Exorcist to the modern maniacs of Freddy, Jason and Leatherface. MONSTERS HD also goes behind the screams with Monsterama, the channel’s original series hosted by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Monsterama focuses on every aspect of monster movie mania imaginable. From Hollywood special effects, creature shops and monster make-up to the latest creature collectibles, conventions and upcoming theatrical, DVD and video game releases. MONSTERS HD’s Monsterama series has fright fans glued to their seats and drooling with delight with the eerie sights on display shot in stunning hi definition. For more information on MONSTERS HD please log on to www.monstershd.com
About VOOM HD Networks
The VOOM HD Networks are the largest and most diverse suite of high definition channels available anywhere. Produced exclusively in true high definition and 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound for distribution in the U.S. through satellite and cable operators, the 15 VOOM HD Networks carry programming in categories as diverse as sports, movies, fashion, music and art. The VOOM HD Networks are commercial-free and available nationally on Echostar’s DISH Network. Developed by Rainbow Media to meet the growing demand for quality high definition programming, the VOOM HD Networks build on Rainbow Media’s history of original programming innovation.