“Suitable Flesh” feels like a movie displaced from the nineties. It feels like a film that would have originally starred Linda Blair and Julie Strain in the duel roles we see in Joe Lynch’s newest horror film. In many ways that’s both a pro and a con as “Suitable Flesh” is completely out of what director Joe Lynch typically delivers. While “Suitable Flesh” pegs itself more as Lovecraftian body horror, the movie leans very heavily more on erotic camp revolving around a lot of body switching and hyper sexual violence. While the movie will definitely have its fans, at the end of the day “Suitable Flesh” and I just didn’t click with it.
It’s crazy that I’d never actually read 2001’s “The Doom that Came to Gotham” despite hearing about most of Batman’s stories. This re-imagining of the Batman lore is fantastic in that it meshes Batman with Old Century Gothic, and HP Lovecraft. This is about as close to HP Lovecraft as Batman’s ever gotten with a story that really is relentless in its bleak tone and vicious implementation of Lovecraftian monsters and beings. This is a threat that not even Batman is fully capable of handling.
Whatever you feel about horror or cosmic horror, you can never realty accuse director Zach Donohue of being unambitious. “The Unknowable” is a richly constructed horror film that takes influence from sub-genres like lo-fi horror and true crime documentaries for one of the more unnerving horror films I’ve seen in a while. Its H.P. Lovecraft meets Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, with a touch of David Cronenberg for good measure.
2020’s been a rough year for the arts in general as while COVID-19 pandemic has forced many films to be delayed, postponed, and or cancelled, and film festivals have been cancelled or delayed, we’ve also lost some excellent artists. Among many of the gut wrenching losses is Stuart Gordon. One of the most widely celebrated and appreciated horror masters, Gordon was a wiz conjuring the spirit of HP Lovecraft to horror cinema, and introducing him to a generation aspiring filmmakers.
Passing away at 72, Gordon will be very sorely missed by horror fans far and wide, but we can at least take solace in the fact that he’ll live forever in his cinematic masterpieces, work behind the camera, and his impression on men and women in the industry.
May he rest in peace.
In his honor, here are five Stuart Gordon films I particularly loved, and five I hope to continue re-watching well in to my old age.
John Carpenter has always been about transcending what ever form of storytelling he pursued. Even when paying homage toWesterns or remaking something like “Village of the Damned,” Carpenter never approaches it conventionally. With “In the Mouth of Madness,” he had every chance to repeat the same meta-beats as “They Live,” but he ends up delivering a genius, beautifully loony, often brilliant piece of cinema that’s both a tribute to literature, a meditation on the power of the imagination, and our own state of being and reality.
From The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society and Andrew Leman comes the excellent “The Call of Cthulhu,” a short film I was lucky enough to experience years ago and was lucky enough to re-visit. From 2005, the independent effort channels the horror and sheer terror of HP Lovecraft’s mythology so well, the time manages to fly by without a hitch. “The Call of Cthulhu” is a brilliant throwback to the silent film era channeling the likes of Val Lewton to bring audiences a love letter to a time in film when horror meant the twang of the score, and focusing on the horror of our actors.
Before he was an iconic horror writer that every horror buff emulated, HP Lovecraft was a young boy named Howard whose imagination kept him company in 1897. After visiting his father in an asylum and consoling him for suffering delusions about monsters and beasts, Howard’s mother gives him his father’s journal to read for fun. Little does Howard know that his father’s journal, which happens to be the Necronomicon, is a portal to a magical world where Howard makes friends with a lot of creatures, all of which are not as they seem. There he makes friends with a squid faced monster that becomes his loyal guard, and has to face a monstrous being known as the Shoggoth in hopes of stopping an unusual queen who wants the Necronomicon.