This month’s Exhumed Films event (which was last night) featured two films from Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna, the director/producer team behind 1985’s fantastic Re-Animator. For that reason, I had kind of high hopes for Dagon and From Beyond. And for that reason, I was doomed to even greater disappointment.
Like Re-Animator, both films were based on short stories by H.P. Lovecraft. Now, it’s only fair to mention that I’ve never actually read any Lovecraft, but having hung around role-players and comics dorks for years and having listened to much heavy metal, I think I get the gist of the kinds of stories he writes. From what I understand, the original stories, each based on a fairly simple concept, were likely not long enough to substantiate a 90-minute film, but feature-length narratives were dragged out of them kicking and screaming anyway.
Dagon was by far the worse offender of the two. For every twenty minutes of film, there was about one minute of actual plot, and those brief moments suffered at the hands of a drunken narrator with an unintelligible Spanish accent. Otherwise, we just watched as our hapless hero was chased and chased and chased and chased through the dramatic thunder and lightning by an entire village of zombie fish-people with bad makeup (which isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds).
While From Beyond shared some of Dagon’s afflictions (namely the thinness of plot), it was much more enjoyable, due largely to its casting and stylistic similarities to Re-Animator. Great comedic performances by Jeffrey Combs and Ken Foree and some really fun makeup and effects (not to mention Barbara Crampton’s requisite nudie scenes) saved this movie from its script.