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Archive for September 12th, 2010

(Stuart Gordon, 1986)
(essay by Robert)
Stuart Gordon is an utterly endeared figure in horror.  There is a constant comedic undertone to his films and he masterfully balances this with cerebral and thought-provoking plots.  He is most famous for his string of HP Lovecraft adaptations- Castle Freak, Dagon, of course Re-Animator and From Beyond– my absolute favorite Gordon.  Not the most famous but the most potent, and complex.  From Beyond is an astounding body-horror experience but also, as is so common in Lovecraft’s work, a complex (and humorous) insight into pushing human boundaries.
And what is a Gordon film without Jeffrey Combs (loved seeing the comments posted about Combs here 2 days ago) who holds together the volatile plot and variety of characters.  Gordon portrays Dr. Crawford Tillingast- understudy to the brilliant but deranged Dr. Pretorius (Nod to Bride of Frankenstein) played by Ted Sorel.  Together they have created the Resonator, a wonderfully conspicuous a device intended to maximize the pineal gland of those within its range.  Guess what, the thing works but somethings are not intended to be understood.
The mysterious pineal gland is the perfect subject matter for the film.  A tiny gland in the center of the brain has been referred to as the “seat of the soul” the “third eye” and the “sixth sense”.  Gordon’s resonator stimulates the gland to its full potential and reveals further depths of reality and senses.  Also revealed are other-dimensional creatures that surround us at all times.  What transpires after these revelations is an outlandish exploration of pushing human sensory limits until ultimate entrapment in the most basic and visceral animal instincts of sexuality and dominance.

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[The following piece was written for Tony Dayoub’s blogathon on Canadian sci-fi and horror auteur, David Cronenberg. To read the rest of my piece, click below. To see the other articles in the series, click here]

We are now reaching a point in time in which the great, most notable North American cinematic voices of the latter quarter of the twentieth century find themselves the elder statesmen among filmmakers. It’s been a long time coming, obviously, a fact of life made all the more apparent by the aging appearances of men like Coppola, Lucas, and Spielberg, their dark beards grown from graying to gray, and gray to white, each one more and more the picture of wizened old masters every bit in contrast with the rambunctious youths of the 60’s and 70’s. Perhaps now it becomes so much more difficult to ignore, and somehow even more impossible to accept, as the films upon which they and others made their names approach their fortieth anniversaries. George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead already had its big birthday two years ago. It will only be a year until Lucas’ feature-version of THX 1138 and Spielberg’s television-movie Duel turn 40. A year after that, it will be The Godfather’s turn to enter middle-age, and unless the world ends in some incredible Mayan apocalypse, two years later we will see John Carpenter’s Dark Star blow four rows of candles out on its own cake. But among the great modern cinematic voices to enjoy such a enduring anniversary, perhaps overlooked is Canadian auteur David Cronenberg.

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