October Horrorshow: The Suckling, aka Sewage Baby

Despite having seen countless horror films, it’s still rare that I come across something vile. Well, maybe not all that rare. After all, Castle Freak is one of the films that made the cut for this year’s Horrorshow. Anyway! Just because a horror flick features vileness as a core element, does not mean that it is a bad flick. The rest of the film can speak to that.

The Suckling, from 1990, comes to us via the dark and disturbed vision of writer/director Francis Teri, in his sole filmmaking credit on IMDb. The Suckling tells the tale of a New York City whorehouse/illegal abortion clinic, that is placed under siege by a man-sized monster. The monster, and this is truly disgusting, is an aborted fetus that was flushed down the toilet. It came to rest in the sewers near a corroded barrel of toxic waste, and said substance causes the fetus to mutate. It grows rapidly, in a nicely disgusting series of shots, sprouting claws and teeth. For some reason that really doesn’t matter, it returns to the bordello to attack and kill everyone inside in as gory a fashion as Teri could afford.

Who’s inside the house? A motley cast of low-budget NYC acting talent that could barely read their lines. But that’s okay, because this is barely a movie. Characters of note include Big Mama (Janet Sovey), who runs the whorehouse and also performs the abortions; Big Mama’s psychotic son, Axel (Frank Rivera); bouncer Sherman (Gerald Preger, I think. The credits are a little spotty in this film); prostitute Candy (Marie Michaels and her incredible Long Island accent); and Lisa Patruno and Tim Martin Crouse as the couple looking to end a pregnancy.

Besides being a huge monster, the fetus also excretes a gelatinous substance that covers the house, trapping everyone inside. And what a house it is. The interior can best be described as Brooklyn basement chic. Lots of fake wood paneling, low ceilings, and poor lighting. Despite this being filmed in a house, the entire place has the feel of one of those dingy, half-underground apartments with which all New Yorkers are familiar. It’s a good fit for the movie.

The monster whittles down the cast like a cabin in the woods or alien formula flick. Being trapped in the house has the effect of removing it completely from the city. The creature is very well done for a movie of this poor quality. It’s a guy in a bodysuit, and it’s a nicely toothy creation, although it could have used a little more slime coating it. Teri also shows it on screen a little too much before the final act, but he and cinematographer Harry Eisenstein showed only a passing familiarity with the concept of lighting, so that’s no surprise.

This really is a bad movie. All that it has going for it is the premise, and the outrageous shots of the fetus in the sewer. Between that, some pretty kinky sex for a regular ole movie, and a howler of an ending, viewers are treated to one of the most incompetent ensemble performances ever put to film. None of the characters are likable to begin with, making it all that much harder for the cast to develop empathy within the audience. This is a hateful movie with hateful characters, and a monster that is very much justified in killing every single person in that house. Alien: Resurrection, besides being a better movie than The Suckling, actually has more likable characters in it.

Some viewers could get wrapped up in the politics of this movie. It’s very much a morality play about abortion. But, if one finds that a bottom feeding horror flick is raising their political hackles, it might be time to step back from the internet for a while.