Barbara Crampton Takes Us Back To Miskatonic In Suitable Flesh

If you're not familiar with Suitable Flesh, allow me to bring you into the fold.  In brief, it's an HP Lovecraft adaptation (specifically of "That Thing On the Doorstep") Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli had been trying to get funded since the 90s.  Think of his Shadow Over Innsmouth project if Dagon never finally got made.  Well, apparently, Barbara Crampton, who's been having a very gratifying scream queen comeback thee days, has enough pull with Shudder now to get a project funded.  So she reached out to Paoli, who gave her the screenplay, which she is now producing and starring in, along with Brian Yuzna, who's executive producing.  It played in a bunch of horror festivals last year, went to Shudder and just now came out on a special edition blu from RLJ (formerly Image) Entertainment.
But, of course, Gordon didn't get to actually direct this.  Instead they enlisted Joe Lynch, who frankly, I was worried about when I saw his name attached.  I mean, Mayhem is perfectly watchable if you don't go in expecting too much, but this is the guy who turned Wrong Turn into a cornball reality TV parody, did that ridiculous hitman flick with Salma Hayek where she breaks the fourth wall to make lame quips and the title Knights of Badassdom speaks for itself.  I was worried.  But Joe Lynch has proven an excellent steward for Stuart's vision.
That's not to say this is 100% the masterpiece that Re-Animator or From Beyond were, but it's better than Castle Freak and absolutely worthy of their company.  Heather Graham, of all people, stars and proves willing to go as far as out as this movie needs her to.  If you know the Lovecraft story, you can anticipate some of the body-swapping hi-jinks everybody gets up to, but of course Paoli and Co. have to crank things up a notch or two before the show's over.  A lot of this plays like a fun Tales From the Crypt episode, with whole cast having fun with its murderous premise.  But then it pushes the envelope with the sex and violence... maybe not quite as gonzo as Gordon would've taken it, but definitely in that same, demented direction.  And they manage not to lose the thread and get silly, helped by composer Steve Moore, who does a nice job capturing the spirit of what Richard Band would've done, if perhaps just a little more subtle.
2024 RLJ BD.
RLJ's blu preserves Suitable Flesh's very wide 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  This is a new release, presumably taken right from a DCP; so there's not a lot for this blu to have gotten wrong and happily they don't.  Things actually look kinda soft, but that may just be down to the look of the film itself (i.e. to look less digital and hue to its 80s predecessors).  Because this is a lot clearer than when I watched it streaming in 1080p, and we've been given a dual-layer disc for a relatively short flick, so I don't think compression would be at issue.  It's always a little tougher to gauge without film grain, how much detail is missing from a modern digital transfer.  Heck, I'd love to see a UHD of this, even without HDR, but generally I think we're lucky to even be getting BDs of these Shudder titles, so I have no complaints.

And we get a nice, bold DTS-HD transfer of the 5.1 track with optional English subtitles.  There's even an audio descriptive track, as well as Spanish and French subtitles, so RLJ has us covered.
And definitely that includes the special features department.  For starters, there's an audio commentary by Lynch, Crampton and co-producer Bob Portal.  Lynch, of course, is co-host of the Movie Crypt podcast, so he's great at doing commentaries, especially with Crampton and Portal to bounce off of.  Then there's a making of, which is fairly substantial.  I was expecting one of those ultra-brief promo featurettes, but this is a good little retrospective with Lynch and most of the cast, reminiscent of the featurettes Scream Factory creates.  Good stuff.  There's also a Zoom-style interview between Lynch and Steve Moore, a look at the storyboards (with a video intro by Lynch), a blooper reel and a couple of bonus trailers (though not the trailer for Suitable Flesh itself).
So this is a really satisfying release of a really satisfying little horror flick: the kind of thing they don't make much of anymore.  Admittedly, if you come in holding this to the extreme expectations of Gordon's all-time greatest moments in cinema, I suppose this could be a little disappointing.  But if you're not at least having fun with this title, you've brought the wrong attitude.  Everybody involved got it right and managed to deliver us one more exciting chapter from what we thought was a long finished necronomicon.

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