Beyond Fest review: 'Suitable Flesh' indulges visceral pleasures

Heather Graham (L) and Barbara Crampton star in "Suitable Flesh." Photo courtesy of AMP and Eyevox
1 of 5 | Heather Graham (L) and Barbara Crampton star in "Suitable Flesh." Photo courtesy of AMP and Eyevox

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Suitable Flesh, which screened at Beyond Fest in Los Angeles, is a sexy, funny, gory extravaganza. That covers three lucrative niches and fans of all three will hit paydirt.

In a padded cell at the Miskatonic Medical School hospital, Dr. Beth Derby (Heather Graham) explains to Dr. Daniella Upton (Barbara Crampton) how she ended up seemingly murdering someone.


Beth was a psychiatrist who got a visit from a panicked Asa Waite (Judah Lewis), who displayed a menacing personality shift in her office. Beth visited Asa at home out of concern and met his father, Ephraim (Bruce Davison).

Ephraim displayed all of the characteristics of Asa's second personality, but Beth still isn't convinced Asa is anything more than a patient with a dissociative disorder. Yet Asa makes such an impression that Beth fantasizes about him while in bed with her husband, Eddie (Jonathan Schaech).

Asa keeps explaining that he doesn't have dissociative personalities, but whatever evil entity has control over his father is trying to take over Asa's body. Once he does, the entity sets his sights on Beth's body.


Screenwriter Dennis Paoli's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's story "The Thing on the Doorstep" establishes clear mannerisms that the entity exhibits. He lights cigarettes with a candle and spits so that any time a different character does that, the viewer knows they are possessed.

The entity likes Beth's body and aims to make her its permanent home. Beth experiences two possessions and learns if it manages a third then it takes over her permanently.

That's bad for Beth, but it's so much fun to see Graham play the evil entity that it's hard not to root for her to get possessed again. When Beth regains control of herself, it's also fun watching her have to deal with the aftermath of a possession and try to destroy the entity's vessel to save herself.

Suitable Flesh is a horror movie, and a Lovecraft adaptation in the vein of Re-Animator, so killings gush with bright crimson blood. Beth's attempts to destroy the entity's other bodies also escalate in fun ways, and director Joe Lynch executes a clever graphic kill seen in an automobile's backup camera.

As much fun as Graham is when Beth is evil, she's also sympathetically vulnerable as the real Beth. Lewis also acts convincingly like Beth when they switch.


Suitable Flesh captures the sexuality of Lovecraft. Love scenes with Beth possessed are sensuous, more mature than the gratuitous '80s, but evocative without showing everything.

Crampton also starred in three previous Lovecraft adaptations by Paoli. Re-Animator, From Beyond and Castle Freak were directed by the late Stuart Gordon.

With Crampton also producing, Suitable Flesh balances the same disturbing and macabre elements of their other Lovecraft adaptations. The film brings Lovecraft into a modern world with cellphones and psychiatric diagnoses, without sacrificing any of the horror.

Suitable Flesh opens in theaters and on streaming services Oct. 27.

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