Suitable Flesh is a gore-soaked, sex-fueled interpretation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep” and an homage to Lovecraft aficionado and all-around good guy Stuart Gordon. Gordon’s Re-Animator films are some of the most beloved cult classics in the horror genre. What Gordon did so well, though, was mix inky black comedy with gross-out horror and anxiety. You never quite felt like things were OK in his Lovecraft adaptations.
My expectations were high for some Miskatonic madness with Barbara Crampton is on the case! Crampton plays Dr. Daniella Upton, a sympathetic psychiatrist who’s hoping she can figure out what has broken her colleague, Elizabeth. The two hold their conversations within a Miskatonic psych ward, where Elizabeth is being held. You see, Elizabeth has committed heinous crimes, but she argues it’s not really her doing. Dr. Upton wants to believe her, and the film delves deep into Elizabeth’s side of the story.
We learn that Elizabeth is seduced out of her marriage by a mysterious fella by the name of Asa. Judah Lewis plays this young man. You may know Lewis from his more family-friendly fare, including Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles films. It’s a bit weird to see him half-naked with handcuffs around his neck in this one.
It turns out Asa isn’t quite himself, either. On the other hand, maybe he is? Asa has a complicated relationship with his father (Bruce Davison), who has a rather unhealthy affinity for a Necronomicon-type book. It also includes illustrations of everyone’s favorite slumbering Ancient God!
All the while several victims are having their souls taken. The craziness starts to get to Elizabeth, who fears she’s next.
Outside of the sex and violence, there just isn’t much here. Director Joe Lynch has had success in the genre before and he’s a devout lover of horror, but man, this one just doesn’t do it for me. Where Gordon’s Lovecraftian films excel, this film falls flat.
A horror legend, Crampton does the most with what she’s given here. Frankly, I wish there was much more Crampton and much less gratuitous sex. I have an unwavering disdain for films that think nudity and sex will sell a film. Especially in horror, because it’s been done so often, so poorly. Enough is enough. This one includes all of the ingredients of mid-80s soft porn, including moaning saxophone, weird body double gyrations and almost laughable pleasure groans.
When a film boasts a cast including Crampton, Davison, and Heather Graham, you don’t have to go for sex scenes that border on uncomfortable. Audiences shouldn’t have to navigate through a flat story and cable TV-level dialog.
I was really looking forward to this one. I really wanted to enjoy this one, but I found myself wishing I had descended into madness well before the end credits rolled.