Tales From The Suitable Flesh Red Carpet

The erotic thriller gets a Lovecraftian twist with Suitable Flesh, the latest effort from cult horror director Joe Lynch and producer Barbara Crampton (who also costars). It’s been a long road for Suitable Flesh, the script for which has been sitting patiently for over two decades, just waiting for the right creative team to come along. Initially conceived by writer Dennis Paoli and director Stuart Gordon, the project never made it past the scripting stage before Gordon’s death in 2020. However, Paoli and Crampton revived the project and brought Lynch on to direct, and the result is a tribute to the delightfully gory and sexually charged horror films of generations past.

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Heather Graham stars as Elizabeth, a happily married psychologist who becomes dangerously obsessed with her new – and very young – patient, played by Judah Lewis, who’s certainly grown up quite a bit since starring in McG’s The Babysitter. Little does Elizabeth know, her patient is inhabited by a mysterious entity that extends its lifespan by traveling between bodies. This entity has destroyed countless lives over untold generations. Suitable Flesh feels like a lost horror movie from 1985, but with updated modern sensibilities, filmmaking techniques, and unique perspectives on gender, sexuality, and personal identity that make it stand out among its blood-soaked contemporaries.

Related: Every Stuart Gordon Movie Ranked

At the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Suitable Flesh, Screen Rant covered the red carpet and spoke to several cast members, as well as director Joe Lynch. They talk about the film, the way it plays with gender roles, and how they paid tribute to Stuart Gordon, without whom this movie would have never been made. Suitable Flesh will release in theaters later this year before settling in at its permanent home on the Shudder streaming service.


Screen Rant At The Suitable Flesh Red Carpet

Screen Rant: Could you tell us a little bit about what we can expect?

Johnathon Schaech: I think it’s a throwback horror film, it’s got a lot of sensuality and sexuality. It’s an erotic thriller. It’s a throwback to films that I used to watch when I grew up.

Screen Rant: Can you talk about any particular role that you’re proud of, that maybe didn’t get the recognition it deserved? Something you’d like to shout out for the Screen Rant viewer?

Johnathon Schaech: Wow. There’s a lot of roles. But the one role, Houdini. I played Harry Houdini in a TNT movie. Remember, back in the day? TNT: Movies That Rock or something like that? It was some unique thing. We didn’t have streamers back then, so it was a big deal that a TV movie be that big of a deal, and I played Harry Houdini.

Screen Rant: I can think of no greater combination of beauty and talent than Heather Graham and Barbara Crampton. Was it, like, just a bounty of riches getting to share the screen with them? Can you talk a little about them?

Johnathon Schaech: Joe Lynch calls me up and tells me how he’s going to swap the roles in the piece of Lovecraft. Then he says, “You’ll be opposite Heather Graham.” And I was like, “Sold!” C’mon! I’ve been wanting to make a movie with Heather since the beginning. So we finally got to share some time on the screen. It’s pretty awesome.

Screen Rant: I can’t wait to see it. And whatever you do next, I’m going to be there!

Johnathon Schaech: Right on! I’ve got a series coming out called Blue Ridge, so look for that!

Screen Rant: Could you tell us a little bit about what to expect?

Heather Graham: Well, it’s scary, it’s disturbing, it’s from a Lovecraft story, but they switched the genders so that the lead character’s a woman – me, I’m pretty excited about it – and there’s a lot of body swapping. It’s a disturbing body swap movie.

Screen Rant: I’m looking forward to being terribly uncomfortable and strangely aroused. I imagine that’s the combination that you’re going for.

Heather Graham: Yeah. It’s a horror, erotic… It’s a mixture between a horror film and an erotic thriller. I’ve always loved the erotic thriller genre, and I think we’re leaning into that.

Screen Rant: Awesome. And what a cast for it, as well! Not just yourself, but Johnathan and Barbara, incredibly talented and beautiful people!

Heather Graham: I’m so grateful. And there’s a newcomer, Judah Lewis, he’s a brilliant actor, and he plays all these different roles. He’s very talented.

Screen Rant: Audiences know you from so many roles over the years. Is there anything you’d like to shout-out, something you’ve been in that you’re particularly proud of but maybe hasn’t gotten the eyes that it deserves?

Heather Graham: I just directed a movie called “Chosen Family.” We’re editing it right now. It’s going to come out soon, hopefully in the next year or so, I’m very excited about that. Definitely check that out when it comes out.

Screen Rant: Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect?

Barbara Crampton: Well, this movie is typically Lovecraftian. It’s a cosmic horror film, but it’s also a little bit a thriller, a little bit erotic thriller, a little bit psychological film, a little bit relationship film, and it’s really about an entity that travels through time and takes over different people’s bodies and what is going to happen when that ensues. Stuff gets a little bit crazy.

Screen Rant: Just another day at the office for Barbara Crampton, master of horror!

Barbara Crampton: Hmm, exactly! Love it, yeah.

Screen Rant: I understand this is a little bit of a tribute to your collaborator, Stuart Gordon.

Barbara Crampton: Stuart Gordon, yes. This was a project that Stuart Gordon was trying to get off the ground with Dennis Paoli, the writer, for 20 years, 25 years. And, for whatever reason, it never happened. Then, when Stuart Gordon passed away, I asked Dennis Paoli what he had on his shelf that was collecting dust, that he had never done before, with Stuart.

I don’t know where the thought came from, but it just came to me when we were chatting about Stuart one day, and he sent me this script, and I immediately loved it, and I said, “I can’t believe you guys never made this. I want to try to make this! Do you have all the rights to it?” And he says, “Yes, I own all the rights.” So, I brought it to the team that I work with at AMP films. I’ve made three movies with them, now. And I wanted to see if they loved it as much as I did, and they did! And they do!

Then we went about looking for a director, a distributor, and money, and all that kind of stuff that goes with it. And a star, and we got Heather Graham to be in the film. And here we are today, after, I’d say, about three years from when I first talked to Dennis about it initially.

Screen Rant: We’re living in the Barbarenaissance.

Barbara Crampton: (Laughs) Thank you!

Screen Rant: You’re not just acting in these movies, but you’re producing and getting them off the ground. Can you tell me a little bit about having the power to turn a movie from a dusty script into something we’re all watching today?

Barbara Crampton: You know, I really like working with creative people. I love writers. Actually, writers are my favorite people in the business. I like developing material with them, I like working with them on character and story. It’s part of the process I didn’t know I would like, and I’m really fond of. So I hope I can continue doing that!

Screen Rant: First of all, tell us a little bit about what we can expect from the film.

Joe Lynch: What you can expect from Suitable Flesh… You can definitely expect flesh. Lots of it. But you can also expect a little bit of body horror, a little bit of body swapping, a little bit of cosmic horror, a little bit of Lovecraft, a lot of love… Just everything that you would want in a horror film that you don’t get a lot of, these days. It’s something we’re very proud of. We’re able to give to an audience that we feel is very thirsty for this sort of “sinema with an S,” if you will.

Screen Rant: With an edge.

Joe Lynch: I mean, gone are the days, sadly, of movies that are trying to push buttons but also entertain. That was something that we were very aware of from the beginning. And to take something like Lovecraft and do what Stuart Gordon (would do), who is one of my heroes, who we dedicate the movie to tonight, and give back to our cinema provocateurs. Like Stuart, and Brian De Palma, and Paul Verhoeven, and Claire Denis. You know, these filmmakers who know how to entertain, but also be a little dangerous! So hopefully, we got a little dangerous with everybody tonight.

Screen Rant: This script has its origins many years ago, and it was going to be a Stuart Gordon project at some point. Could you talk a little bit about paying tribute to him while still being a Joe Lynch film?

Joe Lynch: There was a lot of internal struggle, there was a lot of, like, dark nights of the heart, no… Honestly, Stuart is one of my heroes, was one of my heroes, still is one of my heroes. And to know that the mantle, the baton of Lovecraft was being passed on to me, and hearing that it was what Stuart wanted, I mean, it was an honor. It was an absolute honor. While, still, you know, getting a couple of Joe Lynch things in there! The best thing we could have done was do something that could make him proud, and so proud that the ambulances are coming right now! Watch out! It’s getting testy over here, all because of Stuart Gordon.

Screen Rant: You’ve done so many films, in such a short amount of time! There’s so many that are beloved. Is there anything that you’re particularly proud of, that you wish more people had seen, that you’d like to shout out to the Screen Rant viewer?

Joe Lynch: Oh god, wow, thank you! Well, you won’t hear me talk anything about Knights of Badassdom yet. We’re getting there. Some day, some day the Director’s Cut will come to fruition. To be honest, look, making movies is a miracle. The fact that anybody has seen my work, not just my mom, who is here tonight which is crazy, is a dream come true. But it is also weird to have a random person be like, “Dude, Wrong Turn 2, that movie fu*king rocks!” It’s like, “What? You’ve seen that, David Fincher? That’s crazy!” That’s not true, but it should be.

But to be honest, one movie that I’m particularly proud of that’s starting to attain a kind of cult status, if you will, this sounds so pompous, but… When it first came out, it seemed like it came out at the wrong time. So many of the movies that we love came out at the wrong time. It’s the movies that endure. It’s a Salma Hayek movie that I did called Everly, which is all set in one room and I’ve had people come up to me lately and go, “It’s my favorite Christmas movie!” And I’m like, “Aw shucks.” That’s a very heartfelt thing to hear, that you get to have films that endure.

When we were growing up, it was all about that box office weekend, and does a movie live or die by that box office weekend. But the true movies that endure are the movies that, ten years from now, we’re still talking about. All those favorite film where we go, “Have you seen Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry?” or The Exterminator 2? Ya know?

Screen Rant: I’ve seen Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, but I haven’t seen The Exterminator 2.

Joe Lynch: Ooooh. See? We’re talking about it! Who would have thought? Jim Glickenhaus, 30 years ago, was going like, “Some day, some schmo on a red carpet at Tribeca Film Festival is going to talk about Exterminator 2.” But that, to me, is a seal of quality. You can have films that can endure and, hopefully, whether or not this movie resonates tonight or in 20 years, we’re just lucky to be making these movies, and I’m so proud of this film.

About Suitable Flesh

Heather Graham and Johnathon Schaech in Suitable Flesh

Psychiatrist Elizabeth Derby (Heather Graham) becomes obsessed with helping a young patient (Judah Lewis) suffering from extreme personality disorder. But it leads her into dark occult danger as she tries to escape a horrific fate.

Check out our other Suitable Flesh interview here.

Suitable Flesh had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival on June 11, and it is targeting a Fall 2023 release.

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