Halloween Scene: The Burning (1981), The Mist (2007) & From Beyond (1986)

The Burning Scream Factory Halloween’s the best you guys! I’ve been able to watch more horror flicks than I expected considering our toddler staked her claim on the TV long ago. Still, I’ve been able to go back and watch some old favorites and also check out a few new films like the amazing Sinister.

A few weeks back, after earning a few extra bucks at NYCC, I decided to splurge on some Scream Factory Blu-rays. I snagged The Burning and From Beyond on sale. A subdivision of Shout Factory, Scream is a horror centric imprint that goes all out when it comes to special features, extras and great looking transfers.

I first saw (and reviewed) The Burning back in 2008 and really enjoyed it. You can hit that review back up for the main details. I haven’t had a chance to dive into the features on this one, but I did want to say a few quick things about the movie.

First off, the transfer looks great. It was crisp and clear which helped amplify that natural colors of the setting and the bright red blood splattered throughout the film. I’m really excited to finally have time to get into the extra features, but have decided to focus on watching as many movies as possible and will maybe circle back around later.

The thing that really makes this movie an unexpected classic is how these kids interact with one another. I’ve seen a lot of camp-based movies and even more teen-centric horror movies and this one really captures the complexity of these kinds of groups. Some people like each other and some people don’t, some people are misunderstood creeps and others are irredeemable. But, they’re all a part of the same group, so when they find a raft filled with their fellow campers’ bodies, they react like normal people would: by being completely devastated and freaked out. You really don’t see that scene very often in slasher movies, the one where people of the group discover that their friends are being murdered, but I’m glad it’s here. It offers a bit of realness that you don’t often see and for that I’m glad I shelled out the cash for this disc.

mist-poster-big Another movie I watched recently is Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist. I remember this movie being a big deal when it came out in 2007, but I remembered next to nothing about the one time I saw it around then. I do remember it lead me to go pick up my first King short story book Skeleton Crew which I’ve only made a dent in since then.

Anyway, the film follows Tom Jane’s David as he, his son Billy Drayton (from The Hole!) and a group of other people get stuck in a grocery store as the titular mist rolls in. But, this is no normal weather pattern. The fog carries with it a series of bug-like creatures ready to eat anyone they can get their fangs on.

While the creatures outside seem like the real danger, the people inside wind up becoming threats themselves, specifically Marcia Gray Harden’s Mrs. Carmody, a Bible-thumping lunatic who starts convincing her fellow captives that these monsters were sent by her God in search of blood sacrifice for their sins. She’s easily one of the most hateable characters in cinema because Harden plays her with the exact right shade of recklessness that she requires. From there it’s a matter of seeing how and if David and his increasingly shrinking group will survive.

I remember this movie being kind of a big deal when it came out, but I didn’t really see why while watching this time around. For one thing, it looked pretty crappy on Blu-ray. I took one film class in college and when the whole film versus digital conversation came up, our teacher pointed out that blacks are the key to great filming. If they look solid, then whichever method used was the right choice, but if they look grainy, someone’s screwing up. The black’s in this movie looked like pixel anthills, pieces running all about. So that was distracting. Also, the CGI on the monsters was laughable early on. That octopus thing could have been so rad if done practically. Instead, you’ve got a goofy look effect that kind of ruins the later, better effects in advance. Plus, I don’t think Jane’s the best actor around.

But the real problem with this movie is that I just didn’t feel much aside from intense dislike towards Mrs. Carmody. Sure, I felt for David on an intellectual level at the end, but Jane’s performance in those final moments pushed me further out of the story. I just wasn’t buying it. I don’t remember much about the short story and do kind of what to go back to it now, but I’m sure it was more investing than this film. Ah well, they can’t all be gems, right?

from-beyond-blu-ray Even though I’d never seen Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond, I decided to buy it for two reasons. First, I just watched Re-Animator and rediscovered how good it was and second, I just listened to him on Killer P.O.V. talking about the recently released Scream Factory offering. So, I figured I’d take a risk and see if I liked it. And boy, did I like it.

This is a wildly strange and awesome movie based on Lovecraft’s story of the same name. As with Re-Animator, I have no relationship to the source material, so I’m judging this film as it is. The film finds scientists Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) and Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs) building a machine that reveals creatures that are just barely out of phase with out own reality. As these things tend to go, those things don’t like us much and chaos ensures. Tillinghast gets locked up in an asylum after one of the monsters kills Pretorius. There, Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton) makes herself known, specifically stating that she wants to continue their work with Tillinghast released into her custody. Someone thinks this is a good idea, assigns cop Bubba Brownlee (Dawn Of The Dead‘s Ken Foree) to watch over things and they get back to work which uncovers more insanity.

Between From Beyond, which I watched a few days ago, and Sinister, which I watched last night, I feel like I’ve hit a lot of horror bases. I was scared by Sinister and grossed out by From Beyond. The former really got inside my head while the latter showed me gross, insane things that were sometimes tough to look at. When it comes right down to it, those are my two favorite kinds of horror. Sometimes they combine into one awesome film while others they get spread out piecemeal and you’ll only get the occasional taste. These two movies both did their thing very well and reminded me why I like these kinds of movies.

As with The Burning, I haven’t had a chance to get into the special features, but I will say that this film looked absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray. If you haven’t seen From Beyond, definitely check it out. If you haven’t seen it in a while, I can’t recommend the Scream Factory presentation enough.

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