Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Suckling, The (1990)

... aka: Sewage Baby

Directed by:
Francis Teri

Given the potentially outrageous set-up and decent write-ups in several genre publications, this turned out to be something of a let-down for yours truly... Rebecca (Lisa Petruno) is pregnant, wants to have the baby and then give it up for adoption. Boyfriend Phil (Michael Logan) isn't too thrilled about any of this and wants her to immediately terminate the pregnancy. Somehow he's able to coerce her into going to see an illegal abortionist just to "check it out." They arrive at a run-down old building owned and operated by Big Mama (Marie Michaels), which doubles as both a whorehouse and a secret abortion clinic. Unbeknownst to Rebecca, she's actually being set up; Phil and Big Mama have arranged for her to be drugged and go through the procedure whether she wants to or not. Everything starts out going as planned. Rebecca passes out after being given some tainted fruit punch and Big Mama aborts the fetus with a clothes hanger. She has her assistant Bertha (Antoinette Greene) dispose of the fetus the way she always taught her to, i.e. by flushing it down the toilet. The baby goes down into the sewers where it meets up with some toxic waste leaking from a discarded barrel up above. It's revived and then begin to mutate it into a big, hideous wrinkly creature.

After Rebecca awakens, finds out what's happened and demands to leave, she and Phil realize they can't. Some weird kind of pink glob is now covering all of the windows and doorways, trapping about a dozen people inside. Along with those already mentioned, there's Sherman (Tim Martin Crouse), an army vet who now works as Big Mama's doorman and bodyguard, Big Mama's hot-tempered, violent and unpredictable thug son Axel (Frank Rivera), Axel's obnoxious hooker girlfriend Candy (Janet Sovey), who nonchalantly confesses in the clinic that she's up to her third abortion by now, a bunch of other hookers and a couple of customers, including a jerk businessman (Gerald Preger) who likes having dildos shoved up his ass. The monster, which uses sharp tentacles and its huge teeth to kill, thrives in moist places and travels primarily through the pipes, then begins to kill everyone off. Well, when they aren't killing each other... One of the girls shoots a customer dead just because he pisses her off, another girl can't handle the hopeless situation and blows her own brains out and, when Axel gets his hands on a gun, pretty everyone's in trouble.

While this sounds like a good, tasteless romp in concept, it's unfortunately not as much fun as it could have been. After setting up a wonderfully tasteless premise, the director then refuses to go many creative or humorous places with it. Instead, this deteriorates into a bunch of tedious, repetitive scenes of loud, obnoxious people sitting around arguing. The characters themselves may sound like a colorful, eccentric bunch, but almost none of the actors (with the possible exception of the actress playing Candy) are good enough to bring their roles to life or milk their scenes for the obvious intended sick humor. Something like this really would have really benefited from actors with the charisma and enthusiasm of - say - John Waters' early troupe of stars. It's also poorly edited and has a really grainy low-budget look (some scenes - like a stop-motion reanimated hand - are horribly blurry). Though there's a decent amount of blood and gore (including an exploding head), none of the death scenes are really memorable or all that inventive. In fact, a good number of them actually take place off-screen.

All that said, there are some genuinely amusing moments in here from time to time (just not enough of them) and the filmmakers clearly tried to put on a good show within their limited budget (though they're ultimately not quite successful). The best thing this has to offer is its creature design, which is truly excellent. I suppose that's where they spent most of their money, but it was a wise investment. Fangoria Magazine editor Michael Gingold inhabits the costume. The DVD is from Elite.



Anonymous said...

Hanger from back in 2009 was pretty much a spiritual successor to this.

crow said...

I think I got the best of the movie in your screencaps it seems...the cool monster designs really impressed me. Boy that premise is all kinds of nasty, isn't it?

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Even at just two stars I liked this MUCH more than Hanger actually.

The monster design is absolutely the best thing going on here. After the initial set-up, I was kind of surprised how routine this became. Too bad, it could have been great instead of just OK.

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