Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Suckling (1990)

Some guys! All they wanna do is blow their load on your face! Ah well, everyone's got their problems...-Hooker, "The Suckling"

When it comes to horror, you can't really be surprised as far as premises are concerned. Only such a genre could come up with the likes of "Death Bed: The Bed that Eats", "I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle" or today's movie, Francis Teri's lone directing and writing effort "The Suckling."

Starting out with a rolling text that informs us that the following events actually happened in 1973 (okay then...), "The Suckling" deals with a couple who go to a brothel that doubles as an illegal abortion clinic run by Big Mama. The girl ends up having her fetus aborted against her will, which is flushed down the toilet-and then has toxic waste from a barrel spill on it (because all abortion clinics and whore houses have that in their backyards), turning it into a rampaging monster that wants blood. Now barricaded by a strange membrane, the patrons of the house must fend for their lives.

When you look at the premise, "The Suckling" looks like the kind of trashy, potentially offensive movie that cult movie nuts such as myself look at with a cocked eyebrow, thinking "well, that's different." First of all, it's not at all pro-life propaganda, as it so many moments (a topless nurse with an axe, a man being sodomized by a dildo, dialogue like "You wish, penis brain!") that let you know that this is meant to be exploitation for a certain audience and nothing more. The movie itself does get this right-the make-up, gore and creature effects are great, and bleed the kind of low-budget ingenuity that I embrace. Going from a man in a monster suit (played by Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold of all people) to puppetry and crude stop-motion, you can't help but smile at the practical effects on display.

Unfortunately, everything else-acting, direction, editing, music (a pretty redundant piano and synthesizer score), pacing and lighting fails. Granted, this is a low budget horror film, so I can forgive some of that. However, while there's some choice gore (a decapitation, an impalement and a meltdown in the end credits), the movie isn't gory enough to warrant as the kind of splatter fest that this should be, nor does it have enough nudity. In fact, apart from the premise and the conclusion, little of this actually feels tasteless. Most of it just feels like a rather routine, low budget monster movie and siege style horror movie that only offers a few surprises, and mostly just plays out in routine fashion, with many of the kills occurring off screen or coming off as rather tame.

This leads me to mention the biggest problem the movie has-it all plays itself too straight. Sure, there's moments of humor, but none of them are funny. This is a movie about an aborted fetus that turns into a killer monster. It should be a sleazy, scuzzy movie with a bent sense of humor and plenty of memorable moments. Instead you only get a few, with a lot of useless talk and yammer among amateur actors. That's not what I want from a movie like this.

On paper, "The Suckling" looks like a dream come true for the likes of Troma and Frank Henenlotter fans. While it might appeal to the former, the latter will probably walk away disappointed. This is for undiscerning trash fans only.

Rating: 3.5/10

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