From Beyond (1986) - Unrated Director's Cut
I know, I know - you've probably seen it already. But if you're like me and haven't watched From Beyond (Stuart Gordon's second film, following Re-Animator) since VHS days, it's definitely time to see it again - this time unrated and with missing footage restored!
When From Beyond was released in 1986, some key moments of gore were cut from the film (or shortened) in order to achieve an R rating. Stuart Gordon's editor, Lee Percy, saved the "trims" from those edits for a possible unrated video version of the film, but at some point they were lost - the studio told Gordon that they had been thrown out. Around 2007, when MGM was ready to rerelease the film on DVD, a box of these trims resurfaced. Unfortunately, they were taken from a work print, so the film frames were covered with scratches, dirt, and grease pencil marks (from the editing process). Fortunately, all of this has been removed. Gordon worked with Sony to digitally restore all of the work print material and seamlessly match it with the existing print of the film, resulting in this Unrated Director's Cut. The end result is pretty incredible, especially compared to most DVD transfers of horror films from this period. Particular gory scenes have been slightly extended and in some cases completely replaced with an alternate (gorier) scene. There's also a lot more S&M material with Barbara Crampton than I remember seeing in the theatrical cut.
I had also forgotten about the film's highly-stylized, "unmotivated" lighting (a bright violet / hot pink) and the massive amounts of goop used on the creatures; these two elements combine together wonderfully. Apparently the goopy slime was made from methyl cellulose, a food thickener used in McDonalds milkshakes (among other things). According to the crew, the slime was so cold that it had to be heated up before being slathered on the actors.
The DVD comes with some interesting special features, including a commentary track with Stuart Gordon, Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton - it's actually worth listening to. You can also watch Gordon's original storyboards for selected scenes alongside corresponding film clips - more interesting than it sounds and an excuse to use that Angle button on your remote. The only thing I didn't like about the DVD is the new cover art, which is seriously awful - I don't know what's going on there, but why didn't they just use the art from the original poster? In any case, From Beyond is one of the best H.P. Lovecraft film adaptations to date (read the original 7-page story in this anthology) and an excellent contribution to the "Perverted Science" subgenre. See it again!
p.s. if you're familiar with Skinny Puppy's excellent 1988 album VIVIsectVI, this is where the "that machine has got to be destroyed!" sample comes from (it's used in the song "The Second Opinion"). Also listen for samples from Evil Dead II and The Shining elsewhere on the album.