Combustible Celluloid
With: Christina Hélène Braa, Jeffrey Byron, Kyle Carrion, Josh Cole, Amanda Jones, Alex Keener, Dane Oliver, Michael Paré, Thomas Shevela, Brynn Sicard, Austin Woods, Amanda Wyss
Written by: William Butler
Directed by: William Butler
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 40
Date: 02/26/2021

The Resonator: Miskatonic U (2021)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Beastly H.P.

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by William Butler, The Resonator: Miskatonic U is a two-part feature film that feels like it wants to be — and still could be — a TV series based around H.P. Lovecraft's fictional university, Miskatonic. It also deliberately recalls Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986), and this particular story directly follows in the footsteps of the latter.

It's a Full Moon production — Charles Band is a producer, and Richard Band provided the music — and will be available via their exclusive streaming service.

Crawford Tillinghast (Dane Oliver) is the son of Jeffrey Combs's character of the same name, the hero of his particular story. This Crawford decides to rebuild the notorious Resonator, despite its dangers. The machine is designed to enlarge the human pineal gland, enabling us to see across different dimensions and timelines. His first test kills his assistant, and he must cover up the death while continuing his experiments. He shows the machine to his friends, and at first they love the feeling, but soon, the creepy-crawlies come out again.

The visual FX are pretty low-rent, and even the 1986 practical FX seem more sophisticated. But Oliver, even though he's a muscular redhead and looks nothing like Combs, still manages to channel Combs's persona (even if it's closer to the character Combs played in Re-Animator).

Part Two of The Resonator: Miskatonic U (running about 30 minutes) reveals, perhaps unsurprisingly, that Professor Wallace (Michael Paré) wants to use the resonator to take over the world, leading to a bloody battle between a mutated Wallace, the students, and some beasties. That's pretty much it, and while it wobbles between eye-rollingly silly and guilty fun, it finally emerges on the fun side, especially if you're already a built-in fan of Lovecraft, Gordon, and/or Full Moon. The coda does indeed show that this was intended as a series, which would have been pretty cool.

For more 1980s vibes, look also for Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Better Off Dead) as another professor.

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