You think those floundering things wiped out the servants? Fool, they are harmless! But the servants are gone, aren't they? You tried to stop me; you discouraged me when I needed every drop of encouragement I could get; you were afraid of the cosmic truth, you damned coward, but now I've got you! What swept up the servants? What made them scream so loud? . . . Don't know, eh! You'll know soon enough.
~ Tillinghast berating the narrator.

Crawford Tillinghast is the main antagonist of H.P. Lovecraft's short story From Beyond and is also a villain in the 1986 film adaptation of the same name.

Biography

Original short story

Tillinghast was a scientist with the ultimate goal of proving the existence of a higher plane of reality. In order to achieve this, he devoted his life to constructing a machine capable of allowing humans to perceive ultraviolet rays. He eventually succeeded, and what he discovered broke his sanity; there was a higher plane of existence which could only be seen through his machine, and it was inhabited by hordes of strange and horrific creatures.

Despite this revelation, Tillinghast chose to continue his experiments, using his machine to transport his servants to the other reality. This caught the attention of some of the creatures, who killed the servants, leading Tillinghast to conclude that his machine's perception effect worked both ways. With that in mind, he invited a friend of his who had urged him not to continue his work to his house with the intention of killing him.

When his friend arrived, Tillinghast explained his work to him. He then engaged the machine, showing him the higher reality. Once both men had been transported to the other reality, Tillinghast explained his intentions, telling his friend that he would survive as he could avoid the creatures. He also informed his friend that one of the things that killed the servants was behind him.

Terrified, Tillinghast's friend shot his machine, transporting them both back to Earth. Enraged that his life's work had been destroyed, Tillinghast suffered an apoplectic fit and died. Tillinghast's friend was arrested on suspicion of murder but was released after the cause of death was determined. The police concluded that Tillinghast had killed the servants in spite of their bodies never being found.

1986 film

In the 1986 adaptation of the original story, Tillinghast is a more sympathetic (but ultimately villainous) character. Rather than him being responsible for the events of the story, in this version he is simply the lab assistant to the evil Dr. Edward Pretorius who is the creator of the resonator. He starts off as a heroic character who assists Dr. Katherine McMichaels in her attempts to destroy Pretorius' machine. However, he is bitten by one of the creatures from the void and transforms into a blood-crazed monster obsessed with killing people and eating their brains. He kills a psychiatrist named Dr. Bloch before attacking Katherine and being brought back to his senses when she bites off his pineal gland. Tillinghast is then attacked by Pretorius and they both die when Katherine's bomb explodes and destroys the resonator.

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