Tag Archives: Dennis Paoli

Feeling Miskatonic

Suitable Flesh

by Hope Madden

I’m going to guess Joe Lynch is a Stuart Gordon fan.

Who isn’t?!

The Mayhem director returns to the horror genre with a Lovecraftian fable, but this is no garden variety Lovecraft. Lynch’s vibe and manner – not to mention co-writer and cast – lean closer to Gordon homage than outright cosmic horror.

Lynch loosely adapts Lovecraft’s The Thing on the Doorstep, writing with Stewart’s longtime collaborator Dennis Paoli (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak, Dagon). Their tale shadows psychiatrist Elizabeth Derby (Heather Graham), who – against her own better instincts – takes on a new patient. Asa (Judah Lewis) believes his father is trying to steal his body.

Cleaving to science and yet inexplicably attracted to the young man, Derby fails to understand her patient’s claims until it is too late – an evil entity has moved from Asa’s father into Asa and is now threatening to take over Dr. Derby’s body.

Graham’s a bit of campy fun in a dual role – far more fun when she gets to dig into the hedonistic villain character. It’s a performance that lets the actor stretch a bit and she seems to relish the darker side of the role. Likewise, Lewis excels in particular when the sinister force inhabits meek and terrified Asa.

Of course, no Gordonesque Lovecraftian flick is complete without the glorious Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak). Crampton’s Dani, Derby’s uptight colleague and best friend, becomes an ideal foil for the transformed psychiatrist. Graham and Crampton vamp it up as the demon oscillates between them, which is as much fun as it sounds like it would be.

The film feels very much like a Dennis Paoli film and fans of his Gordon collaborations have reason to celebrate. But Suitable Flesh doesn’t entirely deliver on its promise of mayhem. It never quite leaps off that cliff the way Paoli films usually do and for that reason feels a tad tame.

But a game cast and a bit of 80s inspired lunacy ensure a good time is had by all. Plus, that’s a great title.