It’s hard to imagine now, but Stuart Gordon was once hailed as one of the all-time great horror directors.
His bloody horror comedy, Re-Animator, became an instant cult classic and everyone expected great things of him.
It’s hard to say exactly what went wrong. Despite the obvious talent on display in his films, none of his others ever gained the same enthusiastic response.
Perhaps this one came the closest. In many respects, however, it seems far too obvious an attempt to cash in: once again he made a Lovecraft adaptation, featuring both Jeffrey Coombs and Barbara Crampton from the earlier film, as well as generous helpings of gore and comedy. Which may be why it has generally been ignored.
Ironically, the original story is pretty much covered in the film’s first few minutes: we have the scientific device – the Resonator – which allows us to see what lurks outside the range of our limited senses. Unfortunately, this means that they can also see us.
One scientist ends up dead, the other in the sanitarium, and everything else after that came from the fevered imaginings of Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna and Dennis Paoli’s screenplay.
What is impressive here is how effectively Stuart sets up his situation, slowly adding facts and building suspense as a psychiatrist tries to investigate what happens. While we get a few glimpses of what the Resonator reveals in the opening, he very neatly conceals the big monster until well into the film.
And it is quite a nasty critter at that, with lots of ooze, bodily transformations and even sinister dreams of conquest.
I also have to give him a major shout-out for naming one of his scientists Doctor Pretorius. Now if only Ernest Thesiger had still been around to play him…
At any rate, we’re talking a well-made, deftly-paced horror film with a few interesting surprises and a typically strange performance from Jeffrey Coombs that’s perfect for a midnight viewing.
Just don’t leave your Resonator on.
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