Coming from Full Moon Films and bearing the title The Resonator: Miskatonic U, it isn’t hard to guess this is a sequel to Stuart Gordon’s 80s classic film From Beyond. Originally shot as two episodes of a proposed series for Full Moon’s streaming service, centred around the son of that film’s protagonist Crawford Tillinghast, The Resonator: Miskatonic U has now been combined into a seventy-minute movie for release on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Crawford Tillinghast (Dane Oliver, Nazi Overlord) is trying to replicate and perfect his late father’s (Jeffrey Byron, Donovan’s Reef, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn) work. So far all it’s gotten him is a dead friend (Thomas Shevela), decapitated by something the resonator let into our world from the other side.
Meanwhile, Crawford’s girlfriend Mara (Christina Hélène Braa) is worried about the strange way he’s been acting. Professor Wallace (Michael Paré, The Wild Man: Skunk Ape, The Penthouse) a rival of his father wants to know what he’s up to as well and suspects he may be behind the disappearance of some equipment for the school’s labs. Professor McMichaels (Amanda Wyss, Hunter’s Moon, A Nightmare on Elm Street) hates him because he dared to dispute her theories.
This being a Full Moon film Crawford, Mara and their friends Bear (Alex Keener, Underdogs), Carrie (Amanda Jones, Nineteen Summers) and Brandon (Austin Woods) all look like they’re destined to become the improbably hot scientists you find in late-night cable skin flicks. Combined with the resonator’s tendency to get anyone around it hyper-aroused it gives the feeling that The Resonator: Miskatonic U might turn into one at any moment.
Instead, writer/director William Butler (Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave, Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver) gives us college drama, mad scientists and supernatural horror interspersed with a healthy dose of T&A. It’s certainly not the sequel to From Beyond that I would have expected, but given the direction Charles Band has taken the company, it’s what I probably should have expected The Resonator: Miskatonic U to be.
It may be for the best anyway. Asking anyone to match the work of a team like director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, The Pit and the Pendulum) and writers Brian Yunza (Return of the Living Dead 3, Society) and Dennis Paoli (The Body Snatchers, Dagon) is asking a hell of a lot. Going in a totally different direction with it was probably a wise choice.
If you’re just looking for something to kill some time or watch with friends and some beers, The Resonator: Miskatonic U is actually a pretty good choice. It’s no classic but it isn’t boring or insultingly brain dead either. Its episodic origins are noticeable. You can easily tell where the first episode ended and the final scene introduction of new student Herbert West (Josh Cole) screams “TO BE CONTINUED”. But it doesn’t really hurt things, honestly, how many movies don’t have an open ending these days?
The resonator itself is a cool-looking device, but the effects it creates do leave a bit to be desired. The opening decapitation is done with bottom-of-the-barrel CGI. The interdimensional beings are also CGI, with the exception of the Female Entity (Hannah Hueston) in a cheap-looking headpiece. Given The Resonator: Miskatonic U’s cheesy nature, they actually work better than more realistic effects would have.
The Resonator: Miskatonic U is available to stream both in its original form as two separate episodes or in the feature version I saw. It will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 9th. You can check Full Moon’s website or Facebook page for more information.