Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Film Connoisseurs First Anniversary! (Plus Ten Kung Fu Movies You Should See Before You Die!)

 That’s right my friends! It’s been one whole year since this blog started and here we are! Bigger and better than ever! Currently we enjoy the company of 118 readers! I want to thank those of you who read and comment on a regular basis. J.D., Shaun Anderson, Carl, Neil Fulwood, Venom5, Johnny Thunder…and to all those of you who don’t comment but read anyways, I know there’s a lot of you out there. But anyways, it’s been a blast talking movies with you guys, and reading your own blogs, which I must say have helped me grow as a movie buff, ahem, Connoisseur I mean. Many blogs out there are simply awesome, very well written and thought out articles. Very informative, we certainly have a wealth of information on movies out there!

So anyways, I promise to continue writing my movie reviews and articles, I hope you guys have been enjoying them. If there is any way in which I can improve the blog or my writing, let me know and I’ll work on that. If there are any requests for reviews or articles, I aim to please you guys, so comment and let me know.

So, since I don’t want to just make this post about The Film Connoisseur turning one year old, I’ve decided to give you guys my TOP TEN KUNG FU MOVIES YOU SHOULD SEE BEFORE YOU DIE. I’m not an expert on Kung Fu movies (that would be Venom5 over at Cool Ass Cinema) but I have seen some pretty decent Kung Fu movies in my time. I have a couple of old school Kung Fu classics, a couple of more contemporary choices. But my main purpose is to try and mention some of the best ones I have seen. I’m sure there are a lot of good ones out there that I won’t mention, but hey, I love suggestions! I’m talking to my readers out there, if you know of an awesome Kung Fu movie that I just got to see, please mention it.

So, I leave you with these Top Ten Kung Fu Movies, they are in no particular order, and I’ve included some new ones along with some old classics. Make sure you check some of them out! And thanks for reading!

Master of the Flying Guillotine (1975)

Ever wanted to know where the Street Fighter video game came from? Search no further! Master of the Flying Guillotine was a primal influence on that game. All the same basic ideas are there, even the premise, of a tournament of fighters from all across the world is here. Heck, even some of the fighters are the same! Example: Do you guys ever remember a character from the Street Fighter video game called Dahlsim? The character that was from India and stretched his arms and legs to punch and kick? Well, a very similar character makes an appearance on this legendary Kung Fu flick! Immediately I said “Aha! So this is the movie those guys molded their game after!” But aside from the Street Fighter connection, this movie is awesome on its own. It’s essentially a revenge flick (like many Kung Fu flicks are) about a Master who wants to avenge the death of his two favorite pupils. His favorite weapon? The flying Guillotine! A contraption that he throws over your head and then decapitates you with! Trust me; this one is worth checking out!

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

If you ask me, this one is the top Kung Fu movie ever, but I’ve a long way to go with Kung Fu movies before I make that assumption. Still, this one has to be around the top five ever. It’s the story of a young boy who decides to travel to the legendary Shaolin Temple in order to become a Kung Fu master. He needs to learn Kung Fu quick if he is to protect his home town from an evil tyrant who has enslaved his people. But in order to do that, he must first pass through the 35 Chambers of the Shaolin Temple. Each chamber shows him a different lesson in Kung Fu. I love that whole sequence where they are training him from chamber to chamber, each one a new challenge, each one pushing him further on his way to becoming a Kung Fu Master. The display of martial arts on this film is amazing, the weapons, the story, everything just gels perfectly for me making it one of the best Kung Fu movies for me. Highly recommend this one! Also, if you enjoy this one, I recommend checking out its sequel Return to the 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1980). It’s a bit different in tone; it has a bit of comedy infused into the story, but trust me, that isn’t a bad thing. This sequel is every bit as good as the original.

Duel to the Death (1983)

It’s really strange, but many movie buffs and even Kung Fu Fans don’t include this one on their lists of best Kung Fu movies. I honesty don’t get why! This movie is the bees knees. The first ten minutes of this film has ninjas invading a Kung Fu school, trying to steal some sacred scrolls, and its all out Kung Fu action! Samurais vs. Ninjas! What I love the most about this movie is that it covers a huge spectrum of martial arts. In part, Duel to the Death has to do with a tournament that confronts Kung Fu masters vs. Karate masters in a Duel to the Death! We also have ninjas, many of which can disappear at will, transform into giants…I mean this movie is all over the place. And to top it all off, the film ends with an amazing sword fight on top a cliff next to the ocean! Duel to the Death is never boring; it has all sorts of martial arts, including ninjas who use magic. It’s just an entertaining flick all around.

Fist of Legend (1994)

Fist of Legend gives us Jet Li paying homage to Bruce Lee’s Kung Fu classic, Fist of Fury. This Jet Li film is an excellent remake of that film. It is essentially a revenge story, about a student who returns to his Kung Fu school only to find out that a rival school has poisoned and killed his master. That’s when Jet Li decides to do some detective work to try and identify his masters killer, so he can make him pay! If no one talks then he will beat the truth out of them! And that he does! The only difference for me between this film and Bruce Lee’s version is that Jet Li plays the vengeful student with more calm and focus while Bruce Lee portrayed the character with genuine rage. On this version of the story Jet Li displays how much of a martial arts master he truly is! He demonstrates real discipline and sheer ability to kick some ass! If you ask me, then I would tell you that this is without a doubt Jet Li’s best film. With Hero and Twin Warriors (1993) follwing closely behind.

Fist of Fury (1972)

This film is also known as The Chinese Connection. It tells the story of a Kung Fu student who upon returning to his home town discovers that his master has been killed, so he goes on a rampage to uncover his masters killer. What differentiates this one from Jet Li’s remake (Fist of Legend) is that Bruce Lee plays his character with an amazing level of rage. This was something that distinguished Bruce Lee’s films; they had that energy, that intensity to them. One look at Bruce Lee in some parts of this film and you’d swear the guy was going to blow up with hatred. It was this ability that Bruce Lee had to go ballistic, I love that about Bruce Lee’s performances. If you want to see a truly deadly Bruce Lee, then check him out in The Big Boss (1971) on that one Bruce Lee is a brutal killer! But I guess that’s just what made Bruce Lee who he was, that intensity that he displayed with his characters. There is this one amazing sequence in Fist of Fury where he finally captures one of the ones responsible for his masters death. He begins to punch the truth out of the guy by punching him on the ribs and asking “Why did you kill my master? Why? Why? Why?” Now imagine that with every “why?” Lee punches the guy on the ribs until he finally cracks them! That’s intensity right there! There’s some rage for ya! This is one of Bruce Lee’s most memorable performances, even surpassing his performance in Enter the Dragon.

The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)

Jackie Chan is known for being more of a comedian than a martial artist. Well, at least that’s the impression a lot of people are under. But The Legend of Drunken Master is one of the films where he truly displays what a master he is in cinematic martial arts. On this one, Chan is trying to defend historical artifacts that these Chinese thugs are trying to sell to Americans. So in this movie he is basically defending his Chinese heritage, his history. The coolest thing about this movie is that in order to fight properly, Jackie has to fight when he is absolutely drunk out of his skull! So we get to see Jackie Chan kicking ass while chugging down huge amounts of alcohol! This not only makes for some really funny sequences (you don’t know funny till you’ve seen Jackie acting drunk!) but it also makes for an amazing display of martial arts action! One memorable scene has Jackie taking on a gang of hundreds of axe wielding enemies inside of a Chinese restaurant. That fight is very impressive and entertaining. The finale is also jaw droppingly good. Highly recommend this movie if you haven’t seen it. If you think Rumble in the Bronx (1995) is Jackie Chan’s best martial arts film, let me tell ya, you haven’t seen nothing yet!

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kung Fu Hustle was my introduction to Stephen Chow’s unique brand of comedy. What’s awesome about this movie is that in many ways it is like a Jackie Chan movie, mixing Kung Fu action with comedic elements. You don’t only get amazing Kung Fu action (enhanced with CGI) but you also get to laugh while watching it. The cool thing about Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu movies is that he embraces that fantasy side that many Kung Fu flicks have. Some Kung Fu movies have more fantasy then others. Some will only go as far as showing characters jumping impossible heights with a single leap. Others will have their characters walk on water. But some, some go really out there with their fantasy elements. Chow’s Kung Fu movies take Kung Fu and bathe it in huge amounts of fantasy. His Kung Fu masters are indestructible super heroes, who will cause huge amounts of destruction, and are extremely powerful! An example of this is when Stephen Chow’s character flies so high through the air that he reaches the heaven’s and sees one of his gods floating around the clouds. The main character on this film (played by Chow himself) is a street bum/hustler looking to move up in the crime world. He wants to join the “Axe Gang” a group of thugs that terrorize every neighborhood they come across. That is until he discovers who he really is. If you enjoyed this one, do yourself a favor and check out Shaolin Soccer as well. It's just as awesome, and creative as this one.

Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)

This for me is the most majestic of all these movies. I think remember seeing an extra feature on the dvd where they mentioned that this was one of the most expensive Chinese movies made up to that point, and if you see this film, it shows. It looks beautiful, the temples, the castles, the wardrobe, everything evokes royalty and riches. Curse of the Golden Flower revolves around a gargantuan family feud between a king and his sons. This is the story of a king and his troubles while trying to rule his country. It is especially difficult to do so when everyone is trying to betray him left and right! Wife, sons, servants…everyone is a backstabber here. Is the father an evil tyrant? Should the son be the ruler and over take his father? What will be the destiny of the nation? And who will rule? This movie is the true definition of epic, thousands of extras, beautiful sets and great performances! You will grow to hate Chow Yun Fat, or will you? This movies ending will have you twisting your perceptions of him!

Shogun Assasin (1980)

Shogun Assasin is the film that Quentin Tarantino salivated over and watched a couple of hundred times just before he started writing the script for his Kill Bill films. Actually, there was a compilation of films he watched. Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974) and Lady Snowblood (1973) being two of the most important influences on the Kill Bill films. Shogun Assasin is one of the bigger influences on Tarantino. That story of revenge, of nothing stopping you until you have finally quenched your thirst for justice. It’s that kind of movie in which something so evil, something so wrong has been done to you that you have no choice but to go out and seek out righteousness. In this case, it’s the story of a Samurai who is hunted down by his own Shogun. You see, the Shogun has grown paranoid and sees the Samurai as a threat to his reign! So he sends out his ninjas to kill the Samurai. The Samurai puts up a good fight and survives, but the ninjas still manage to kill his wife! So he is left alone with his child. What’s a Samurai who’s been betrayed by his own Shogun left to do but go out for revenge? This film has buckets of blood guaranteed to be sprayed all over your t.v. screen. It’s the kind of movie that has copious amounts of sword fights and decapitations, plus it’s just a great revenge picture. In its original form, Shogun Assasin was really two movies! The movie we know as Shogun Assasin is actually a compilation of the best moments of two of the Lone Wolf and Cub films! In order to distribute the film for American Audiences, they changed the title to Shogun Assassin and it was edited down to one film. But rest assured, Shogun Assasin contains the bloodiest moments from the two films it comes from. It basically cut the fat out of the two other movies and gave us the best of them.

Hero (2002)

Jet Li has made many martial arts films in his life time, I could do a whole blog post simply devoted to his best films. But I need to mention this one here because along with Fist of Legend, Hero is one of his best films. Its one of his most beautiful looking films as well. A lot has to do with the films director Yimou Zhang, who also made House of Flying Daggers (2004) (which is a more romantic martial arts flick) and Curse of the Golden Flower. The colors in these films are amazing. Pure eye candy. But what I love the most about this movie, besides the awesome Kung Fu sequences is that it’s a story about the common man vs. the evil empire. It’s about one man doing everything necessary to get close enough to the evil ruler to annihilate him. Defective governments need to be taken out! But, like many a rebellious films, sometimes the powers that be end up being too powerful. But the idea of the film is, be free or die! A lot of these Kung Fu movies are about evil governments, bad kings, and the common man preparing himself to go up against them, even if it means death. So this is the basic spirit behind this film, and its one of the reasons I love it so much.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin [Blu-ray]The 36th Chamber of Shaolin Master of the Flying GuillotineDuel to the Death

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Born in the Fourth of July (1989)

Title: Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Director: Oliver Stone

Writers: Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic

Cast: Tom Cruise, Willem Defoe


The other day I was walking around town, just hanging out on a beautiful sunny day and I came upon this group of American tourists. For those of you who don’t know, I live in Puerto Rico, an island of the Caribbean. We are territory of the U.S., but we have our own government, it’s what is commonly referred to in our island as a commonwealth. We can’t vote for the president of the U.S., but we can go to war for the U.S. The United States has military bases stationed all over the island because our position on the map is strategic, for military purposes. So the other day I’m walking around town and I see this group of about four Americans, looking like they’d been partying for days on end. You know, they had that partied out look. Actually, to be honest, they looked like a group of either drunks or junkies, I couldn’t decide which. Maybe both. So there I am, smoking a cigarette with a friend of mine and I walk up to one of them and I ask “where you guys from?” the guy says: “Texas” and I go “You guys came to Puerto Rico to party huh?” And he went on to tell me how he was a soldier who’d been stationed in Irak and how war had fucked him up beyond repair. His words were “it changes you”.

Now, I’ve personally never been to war and I don’t think I ever will be. Don’t know about you guys, but it’s not in me to kill somebody else; especially not for political reasons. My only references to war come from movies. The guy tells me that he wants to go back to war, because he can’t function properly in regular society anymore. Immediately, The Hurt Locker (2008) , First Blood (1982) and Platoon (1986) popped to mind and I asked him if he’d seen them. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about. I felt like an idiot because this guy has probably been through hell, seen lots of death and destruction first hand, and there I was talking about movies. I never saw those guys again; don’t know if they were court marshaled or if they ever got back on their boat or if they ever went back to war or what. But his words after that conversation stayed with me. “It changes a man” and at certain point in the conversation the words “I don’t like to talk about it” turned up as well. Now, when a person says that, you know they have been deeply wounded. Which brings me to my review for today: Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July.

Born on the Fourth of July is the story of an American boy named Ron. Ron likes playing war with his friends from school, he loves going to the 4th of July parade, and he loves America! His family is the kind of family who goes to Church on Sundays and believes in the American Dream. They love their country, love God, so when Ron decides that after high school he is going to enlist, mom gives the O.K.! In fact, she fully supports her sons’ desires to go to the Army and fight against ‘The Reds’. She simply tells her son “Ronnie, you’re doing the right thing! Communism has to be stopped! It’s God’s will that you go and I’m proud of you!” This was during the time when Americans hated the Russians and saw them as public enemy #1, the evil communist plague that was going to take over the world. Everyone thought the Russians where going to bomb us with their nukes. Ron wants to do what he thinks is right so he goes to fight for his country. Unfortunately for him, he ends up going to Vietnam. Will he survive the war and its psychological aftermath? Will he be the same when he returns?

Innocense before it is lost

Oliver Stone’s films often times fall under the category of ‘subversive’ or anti-government, and Born on the Fourth of July is one of those. The word subversive can be seen as a negative by many, specially those who love their government, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes, you have to call things for what they are, and lets face it, the U.S. Government hasn’t always been squeaky clean. In fact, they have played quite dirty over the course of American history. Oliver Stone simply points his finger at these moments in which the government has failed its people. In his own words, and this is a point that is hammered across in Born on the 4th of July quite often, Oliver Stone does not hate America, he simply does not agree with the way that the government behaves itself sometimes. On this film, he focuses on the way the system will raise you up in believing that God wants you to go and fight for your country, that this is the right thing to do. And then after you risk and sacrifice your life and your psychological well being, they spit you out, and treat you like crap. They give you a shinny medal to hang on your wall. Which serves you for absolutely nothing; except to remind you of the hell you went through.

One last moment of love before going to war

Ron Kovic, this films main character is played by Tom Cruise. I’ll just jump right here and say that this is without a doubt in my mind Tom Cruises’s finest day as an actor. He was trying to present himself as a serious actor, not just a commercial one. He’d done only two dramatic roles before this one. The Color of Money () for Martin Scorcese and Rain Man (1988) acting side by side with Dustin Hoffman. So he was on the up and up, trying to be taken seriously in Hollywood instead of being just another pretty face. I have to say he achieved his goal to perfection. This is a solid performance from Cruise; he goes deep in the insanity, in the grime, into the suffering. There are some really heartfelt moments on this film. One moment has Ron Kovic in a hospital, trying to recuperate from a nearly fatal injury, yet he is treated with neglect by the hospital. In one particularly desperate moment Kovic emphatically requests: “All I’m saying is that I want to be treated like a human being! I fought for my country! I am a Vietnam veteran! I fought for my country!” Unfortunately, once you have served your purpose, your country doesn’t care much about you. They may give you some money, but they can’t give you your lost limbs back can they? They can’t give you your sanity back either. Or a decent nights sleep, without the night terrors.

Oliver Stone

Like many war movies, this one focuses on how a veteran will have a hard time adjusting to regular every day life after going through war. Little things don’t seem to matter much, and the noises of war will forever echo inside your head. Ron tries living with his family, but somehow, the war and Vietnam always pops up, suddenly, Kovic is a very bitter person. He gets to the point where he can no longer live in peace with his own family. Mother and Son now hate each other! We get to see a family destroyed and betrayed by their own beliefs. The differences are so big now between Ron and his family that he simply has to leave, so he ends up going to Mexico to live in this resort where a bunch of Vietnam veterans go to pass their last days. There he meets Willem Defoe, who plays a character that mirrors Ron in a way. Ron sees similarities between himself and this guy. But he thinks ‘I don’t want to become this guy’. By the way, we get yet another memorable performance from the always great Defoe. I mean, I don’t think I’ve seen a film of his where I have been disappointed.

Escaping to Mexico to try and forget the madness of war

Born on the Fourth of July takes place during the late 60’s and early 70’s when the American people were more then fed up with the Vietnam war, there were lots of revolts on the streets, public out cries against the war. One pivotal scene takes place in a University Campus in which the police starts hitting the protesters. My question is this: what ever happened to freedom of speech during those days? Did it disappear? This part of the film got me sad, because this is currently happening where I live. There’s a population in revolt against the current government, and when people complain here, the government answers with pepper spray, and an army of police men ready to rip you a new asshole. Literally! I have seen it personally, people exercise their right to freedom of speech, and all they get is hit on the face by a club. Oppression is a sad thing, especially when it happens in a country where there is supposed to be none. Worse part is that during the 60’s people were speaking up for peace! For and end to war, and what they get in return is more violence.
Students vs. Police Men. Cops with Guns, Students with Flowers. This picture was taking a couple of months ago, during a protest in the University of Puerto Rico

Technically speaking this is one of Oliver Stone’s most beautiful looking films. The first 20 minutes of the film, where we see the Ron’s picket fence all American neighborhood is a beautiful way to open the movie. Stone really captured this sort of suburban way of living, with the suburban neighborhoods, the friends you grow up with, the backwoods where you played your games as a kid. Your first girlfriends, you high school dance, all these moments that capture your typical American up bringing, and its all done in such a colorful, bright and shinny fashion. As if to clash with the horror that is to come in the second half of the film, after Ron returns from Vietnam. The beauty of ‘normal’ life vs. the horrors of a war torn life. The second half of the film is darker in tone, fiercer somehow, it captures that aura of desperation, of rebellion and of chaos that permeated the America of the late 60’s and 70’s. The time of Nixon’s reign of terror as I like to call it.

Real life Kovic vs. Tom Cruises portrayal of him

So ladies and gentlemen don’t know how many of you have seen this film, but it’s an amazing movie. It’s the true definition of an ‘emotional rollercoaster ride’. It is epic in scope, and it speaks of realities that none of us should ever ignore. There is something I like about Oliver Stone’s films, many of them are based on real life stories, so the result is a film that rings very true, very genuine and this was definitely the case with Born on the Fourth of July, its based on the real life experiences of Ron Kovic, the all American boy who wanted to be a war hero. He wanted to be the best damn soldier to ever serve his country, and then reality kicked in. By the way, Kovic himself wrote the script along with Oliver Stone, so I guess that makes the film that much more accurate. Another cool thing about this movie: it has tons of cameos! If you look closely you’ll see a lot of familiar faces peppered out through out the whole film, you gotta keep your eyes open though. I recently acquired an Oliver Stone Boxed Set, so Ill continue my reviews for Stone’s films for the next couple of days, be on the look out for that!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Born on the Fourth of July [HD DVD]Born on the Fourth of JulyPlatoon - 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition (Widescreen)

Monday, August 23, 2010

H.P. Lovecraft's From Beyond (1986)

Title: From Beyond (1986)

Director: Stuart Gordon

Writers: Dennis Paoli, Brian Yuzna (based on short story by H.P. Lovecraft)

Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree


From Beyond was Stuart Gordon’s second feature film, it’s the one he made after Re-Animator (1985). Usually when a director is given the opportunity to direct a second film, they will try to do everything better than they did in their first film. The second film is a directors opportunity to wow audiences a little more, and say “see? I know how to do this! I can do it on a regular basis!” And essentially, this is exactly what Gordon did with From Beyond. With this film Gordon was trying to be gorier and scarier. He tried having more action, more special effects. And for all intents and purposes I think Gordon achieved this with From Beyond. There is this ongoing debate amongst horror fans to try and decide which of these two films is Gordon’s best, as much as I love Re-Animator to death, I lean towards From Beyond being Gordon’s best film and I’ll state my reasons why during this review.

Dr. Tillingast working on The Resonator

From Beyond is a film based on H.P. Lovecrafts short story of the same name. It tells the story of Dr. Crawford Tillingast (Jeffrey Combs) who is a laboratory assistant for one Dr. Edward Pretorious, a mad scientist of sorts who has built a machine called The Resonator which stimulates your pineal gland and enhances your emotions and feelings. Suddenly, you feel everything that much more acutely. So you can imagine what this machine will do to your sexual desires! It enhances them to uncontrollable levels. The Resonator has many other side effects. For example, you will see creatures from other dimensions suddenly appear before you and trust me, they are not very nice! In fact, they are hungry for human flesh and will have no problem taking a bite right out of your face! . The use of The Resonator to stimulate the pineal gland will also turn you into a junky! You become addicted to the machine and will want to experience the intense wave of emotions and pleasure over and over again. One final detail, using The Resonator will also make you hungry for human brains! Will anyone ever destroy the damned thing?

Great thing about From Beyond is that it reunites the same creative team that brought us Re-Animator. Stuart Gordon as a director and Brian Yuzna producing. These two guys worked together on many horror films after this one, they brought us films like Dagon (2001) Dolls (1987) and Castle Freak (1995). Can’t blame them for wanting to exploit the greatness of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories. They are perfect for translating into horror films because they always play with the idea of the unknown. The supernatural, the horrifying. Many of his stories talk about creatures from other dimensions that defy descriptions. “Old Gods” and things that are beyond our human comprehension. Stuart Gordon and the rest of his creative team obviously love Lovecraft’s universe and have dived into it on more than one occasion. So we got a movie here that’s made by Lovecraft fans for Lovecraft fans. From Beyond also brings together two Stuart Gordons regulars: Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, who would get to work together yet again in  another excellent Stuart Gordon film: Castle Freak. To top things off, Gordon is a horror director known for some of the grizzliest moments ever commited on celluloid, so rest assured my gore loving friends, you will be pleased in that department!

One of the side effects of using The Resonator, you have to eat brains!

From Beyond reminded me a bit of Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage (1988) because it plays with themes of drug addiction and loss of control over ones actions. In Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage the main character encounters a small creature that injects an addictive blue liquid into his brain that gives him intense sensations and makes him experience the world just a bit differently. Unfortunately, the creature has to feed on human brains! From Beyond is a lot like that. You have a machine that when turned on will give you intense pleasure, will make you do things you would normally never do, and when you turn it off, and come off the high, you feel used, dirty and ashamed of yourself. This is what happens to Barbara Crampton’s character: Dr. Katherine McMichaels. She starts out all nerdy and clean cut, but when out of curiosity she decides to experience The Resonator, well, then we see her turn completely slutty and overtly sexual. In one scene, while still under the influence of the machine, she dresses up in S&M gear and starts to seduce Jeffrey Combs. When she snaps out of it, she can’t believe what she’s done and ends up being ashamed of her actions. So what we have here is a film that talks about addiction, and how it can change a person. One moment you are a fully functional thinking human being and the next you are a person who can only think about your next fix!

But don’t take From Beyond for a preachy film, because it isn’t. Its main purpose is to entertain us with its fantasy, and with its gore and effects, and there are plenty of those! You see, Dr. Pretorious, the creator of The Resonator gets taken to another dimension when a creature bites of his head! His head melds with a creature “From Beyond” so Dr. Pretorious suddenly becomes two beings in one. And every time Pretorious returns from the other dimension, he looks less and less human, which basically means we get to see a bunch of cool transformations, creatures and make up effects! This is one of those movies that was made when latex and make up effects reigned supreme, so every time Dr. Pretorious comes from his dimensional travels, he looks more monstrous!

Dr. Pretorious after returning from another dimension

My only gripe with this movie is that sometimes, the Pretorious creature wasn’t pulled off so well. This is a problem that the filmmakers of Slither (2006) also had. In Slither we encounter a creature called the Grant Grant monster, a giant fleshy mess of a creature that looks cool but is ultimately not that menacing because it looks so static. Same thing happened in From Beyond. The Dr. Pretorious creature looks cool, but it doesn’t look like it can move, it looks like a puppet that doesn’t have much mobility and as a result, the performance of the creature looks stiff and clunky, not like something that is alive, not like something that can hurt you. This translates to loss of believability to me. You kind of disconnect because you know you’re just watching a clunky looking puppet. But the thing with this movie is that I’m having so much fun with it that I don’t care, I love the make up effects and the gore. I just wish they had pulled off that creature slightly better. Other creatures look awesome, like this giant worm thing that Dr. Tillingast and Bubba (Ken Foree) have to fight off in the house’s basement, while trying to turn off The Resonator. The worm thing looks like one of the worms from Dune (1984) only smaller. This giant worm thing grabs Dr. Tillingast by the mellon and sucks on his head! Pretty cool sequence! Like I said, there’s lots of gooey fun in store for you guys if you like that sort of film with lots of monsters and creatures coming from other dimensions.

"Humans are such easy prey..."

This is one of those movies that’s constantly trying to wow you and amaze you and I love that about it. Stuart Gordon knows that the worst thing a horror movie can be is boring, so he always builds his horror movies on a frenetic pace. From Beyond is never boring, and its always going over the top with everything! One of the many things that is over the top about this movie is its performances. Jeffrey Combs once again plays the crazy scientists searching for that truth, that new experiment that will put him on the map. Unfortunately, with Dr. Pretorious’s Resonator machine he seems to have bitten off more than he can chew. He plays the wacky crazy doctor, his transformation is extremely grizzly, not gonna spoil it for you. But it’s always a treat to see Jeffrey Combs playing the crazy guy in a horror movie. Check out The Frightners (1996) if you don’t believe me! Barbara Crampton plays a nerdy doctor, who’s curious for the machine and its effects. Once she gives the machine a try, she goes from nerdy to slut in 0.5 seconds! She shows a little more skin than she did in Re-Animator, but in the movies defense I will say that her nudity actually goes with the story, because The Resonator enhances your sensual side. Finally, we got Ken Foree who plays the conscience of the team, the one trying to make sense of it all, always trying to do the right thing. So we got a good cast rounding up the film.

The Resonator reminded me of the dimensional portal in the Phantasm films because they also worked with sonic vibrations. Cool thing about The Resonator is that whenever it was turned on, it cast these purple flashes of light that gave the film its own unique color palette, appropriately otherworldly. Everything is made that much more exciting thanks to the musical score composed by Richard Band. It is a very cinematic score and reminded me of the good old days when films had that kind of music to them. In closing I’ll just say that there are many gory delights in store for you in this film. It is fast paced, over the top and simply put: tons of fun! I wish Stuart Gordon would give us another gory film sometime soon!

Rating: 4 out of 5

From Beyond (Unrated Director's Cut)Re-AnimatorDagon


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