My unhealthy addiction to cinematic trash can easily be traced back to a late night encounter with Frank Henenlotter’s bizarro indie classic Basket Case on Cinemax during the '90s. It was fresh, it was exciting and, most of all, it was sleazy as hell. Needless to say, I was instantly hooked like a mutant fish on a demented fisherman’s two-dollar lure. This insatiable hunger for campy atmospheric horror led to the discovery of such like-minded fodder as Combat Shock, Street Trash and Gregory Lamberson’s highly underrated gem Slime City. Unfortunately for me, it also led to the unearthing of director Francis Teri’s virtually forgotten abortion opus The Suckling.
Oh, what a lucky man I am.
But don't get me wrong, dear readers; The Suckling doesn't even come close to matching the sheer unbridled genius of Henenlotter's work or that of his imitators. At best, this goofy little microbudget endeavor is a forgettable rubber monster movie with a controversial villain, nothing more. If you do decide to investigate this obscure little number for yourself, try to keep this helpful tidbit of information in mind. Try as it might, this sad picture just can't compare to the universal master of splattery surreal sleaze.
How’s this for an original premise: A dopey college kid and his knocked-up girlfriend pay a visit to their local back alley abortion clinic/whorehouse in search of a solution to their prenatal problem. Though our heroine is strongly opposed to terminating this pregnancy, resident physician and motherly madam Big Momma assures her that this dangerous procedure is actually quite harmless and beneficial to a young woman’s future. After their patient has been properly drugged and knocked unconscious, Big Momma and her assistant perform the surgery anyway, disposing of the waste material in a very inappropriate manner.
They flush it down the toilet.
Before you can say BIG MISTAKE, the aborted fetus is practically swimming in a frothy batch of icky toxic waste that someone has conveniently dumped into the city’s sewer system. Baby grows up, baby grows claws, and baby gets revenge. And, like all mutant fetuses with a taste for human blood, it promptly encases the house in its patented brand of gooey webbing and quickly sets to work. Soon the seedy inhabitants of this self-contained sleaze factory are getting bumped off one by one, forcing them to band together in an effort to stay alive. Will they escape with life and limb intact, or will this chemically-altered demon spawn make a tasty meal out of everyone?
You’re either completely repulsed right now and ready to lodge a formal complaint or so eager to see this movie that you can’t keep your knees from knocking together. If tasteless, inappropriate horror is an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, director Francis Teri’s slipshod production is more than willing to spend roughly 90 minutes helping you get reacquainted with your estranged companion. There’s plenty of nastiness to go around, including but not limited to exploding heads, gore-encrusted coat hangers, and a stable of degenerate characters just begging to meet their maker. Strip away The Suckling’s highly questionable premise and you’ll discover the heart of an old fashioned monster movie.
Of course, if you’re sensitive to the oh-so-taboo subject of abortion, maybe this isn’t a product you should trade your sack of magic beans for. While the film could be approached as a kind of twisted pro-life morality play, there’s just too much foul gunk stuck under the picture’s proverbial fingernails for it to be anything other than completely offensive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I'm not kidding.
On a lighter note, the film’s titular monster is actually quite believable, especially when you take into consideration the film’s obvious budgetary limitations. It’s not going to knock you out of your socks and steal your shoes, mind you, but it certainly gets the job done with little insult to your intelligence. In a world filled with generic computer generated beasties, it’s nice to see a flick that makes good use of a guy in a cheap rubber suit. Snazzy.
Could I recommend The Suckling to you without feeling intense waves of guilty and remorse? Not quite. If lousy monster movies based on hush-hush subjects make you giddy, perhaps you’ll get a chuckle or two out of this flick. I certainly did, anyway. Then again, you’re talking to a guy who sold his soul for a rusty Bettie Page Zippo over fifteen years ago; make of that what you will. On the other hand, those who come equipped with soap boxes and political messages aren’t going to find any of the situations contained in this picture to be the least bit amusing, so do check your agendas at the door if you decide this slab of dodgy celluloid is worth investigating. Otherwise I’ll just have to flush you down the toilet.
Like your mother should've done years ago.