Devil in the Flesh (1998) Review
Published on April 26, 2019
August 21, 1998
Mill Creek Entertainment
Devil in the Flesh
Devil in the Flesh follows a beautiful, starry-eyed Vixen (Rose McGowan) who goes bat shit crazy when her suitor turns her down! Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned...
Seduction cinema has had a very chequered past with production value varying in quality. One end of the Richter scale pampers to the exploitation PG-13 market and somewhere in between we have the high end blockbuster held primarily together by names above the title. Then there’s the devilishly delicious, succulently dark low budget film noir. Playing up to conventions we have the soft porn schlock, and finally there’s porn dressed up in sheep’s clothing that plays out like one long and ludicrously bad Carry On innuendo. 1998’s Devil In The Flesh fits neatly into the first of the production ilk, a mediocre PG-13 starring Rose McGowan (Scream).
McGowan plays the brooding Debbie Strand who, after the tragic death of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend in a suspicious house fire, is relocated to California to live with her grandmother. The grandmother (Peg Shirley) is a deeply strict Christian, who is convinced that her twisted granddaughter is exactly like her mother and immediately lays down the ground rules, rubbing Debbie up the wrong way.
"Devil in the Flesh is predictable and lacks any suspense, but what it lacks in originality it compensates for by casting McGowan as the film’s lead siren."
Seeking distraction from her grandmother’s ruthless ways, Debbie develops an intense crush on her English teacher, Peter Rinaldi (Alex McArthur), but her numerous attempts at seduction end in failure, eventually bringing a dark psychotic rage to the surface. Soon people start turning up dead around her and Peter immediately fears that Debbie is the one to blame and that his fiancée, Marilyn (Sherrie Rose), may be next on the hit list for murderous vixen with Betty Paige curves. In a race against time and with everything at stake Peter goes to dangerous lengths to stop Debbie, eventually culminating in a head-to-head fight to the death.
Devil in the Flesh, also released under the title Dearly Devoted, follows the same clichéd pattern as the Poison Ivy (Drew Barrymore) series; a beautiful but troubled young girl, scorned by her family roots, becomes obsessed with a suitor, only then to go bat shit crazy because she can’t have what she wants. McGowan certainly delivers when developing her poisonous disposition of knocking people off, including her grandmother, a high-school jock (Ryan Bittle) and her grandmother’s yapping pup for good measure.
Steve Cohen’s (V.I.P.) direction masterfully captures the late night trashy noir cable fodder but without the obligatory nudity and violence that usually goes with it. The story was written by no less than six writers including the director, Kurt Anderson
(Days of Darkness), Richard Brandes (Penny Dreadful), Kelly Carlin McCall (Daddy’s Girl), Robert McCall and Michael Michaud (Silver Spoons). It’s strange to have so many writers in one stable when considering the simplicity of the plot and how wafer thin the characters are, exterior to McGowan’s role. J.C. Brandy (Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers) plays Janie Magray, Debbie’s only friend, but other than that device she’s disposable. Even the character Peter, the male protagonist, has little to do other than be the film’s forbidden fruit – the temptation that pushes the bunny boiler over the edge.