Monsters HD, the 24-hour high-definition channel devoted to horror films, gave Fango the word that it will premiere the restored director’s cut of Stuart Gordon’s FROM BEYOND on June 10 at 8 p.m., in advance of its DVD debut. With the filmmaker’s help, the Monsters team has reinstated scenes into the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired film that fans have only been able to read about for the past 20 years, and given the movie a fresh new look. “The transfer is really stunning,” Gordon says. “Mac Ahlberg, the DP, 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.”
The director goes on to relate the trials the movie went through before the ratings board: “They were very upset and, I think, trying to get revenge for the unrated RE-ANIMATOR. So we had to submit FROM BEYOND at least a dozen times, maybe more. [Meeting with the MPAA] 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.”
Describing 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,’ ” Gordon mentions one scene that caused particular consternation. “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.”
Gordon has been trying to get the uncut FROM BEYOND out to the fans for a while now, and came close when he discovered the deleted footage at MGM, which owned the video rights. But after the company was taken over by Sony, hopes seemed to fizzle out again—until Monsters HD president David Sehring, who was planning to air the film and was aware that the trimmed scenes had been found, offered to have the network pay for the restoration.
“Having known about this holy grail of horror and the controversy surrounding it,” Sehring says, “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 as well as MGM and 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.”
And it wasn’t just the visuals that received an upgrade, but the audio as well, with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. “The 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,” Gordon says. “Plus, I think we need some of those really truly disgusting sound effects for that brain-sucking scene.” Serhing adds that he hopes to hear “some delicious slurping sounds in 5.1 stereo surround that will accentuate the ‘eye-popping’ visuals in high definition!”
Monsters HD will air FROM BEYOND as part of a Lovecraft celebration that will also include showings of THE UNNAMABLE, DIE MONSTER DIE and Dan O’Bannon’s THE RESURRECTED. No word yet about a BEYOND DVD, but we’ll be sure to let you know anything we hear.