What if our five basic senses were limited in their perception of the world around us?
What shares our universe that we are unable to detect? What is it that gives us the shivers
when is appears that there is nothing there? The answers are as yet unknown to us and
possibly cannot be known. One of mankind’s common fears is the unknown or the
unknowable. H. P. Lovecraft’s short story, “From Beyond,” plays upon this very idea.
The characters in this story discover that there is a way to create a field in which the
human senses can see “beyond” their normal range of detection to the range of “ultra
violet” where strange creatures swim through the ether normally unbeknownst to us.
These creatures in turn cannot see us unless we are moving within the field. This eerie
idea is just one of the creepy themes, along with revenge, in the written story.
In the movie version, also called “From Beyond,” by Stuart Gordon all of the events that
take place in the book version happen within the first few minutes of the introduction.
The rest of the events in the movie happen as if the story continued on after the book
was over- with a few major differences. The character of Crawford Tillinghast, played
by Jeffery Combs also from Re-Animator, continues on to have adventures of his own
in the “ultra violet” field. If we were to follow correctly the events at the end of the short
story he would not have been able to do so.
Gordon has again added a female character for the film where Lovecraft has none. Dr.
Katherine McMichaels, played by the lovely Barbara Crampton, takes on an obsession
with seeing “beyond” and is seduced into the field herself. There becomes a sexual
element that comes along with the pineal awakening that the field induces that has been
added into the movie version. This allows for a strange scene of the Dr. in bondage gear
as well as other sexually suggestive elements.
The movie is very literal with giant blob-like monsters flying out of the air to bite and
fight with the characters. The Lovecraft version is much subtler and intangible. This is
most likely because film is more of a visual medium and books deal much more with the
imagination and unrestricted thought. The movie is a fun and interesting if very different
follow up to the story.