‘The Suckling’: The Best Worst Horror Movie You Need to Stream
Now available free on Amazon Prime… newly restored in HD!
This past Saturday night, my girlfriend and I were several beers deep when we decided to watch a movie around 2am. We pulled up the Amazon app on Playstation 4, hopeful to find something fun to watch on Prime. What I never expected was that we’d end up watching a movie about, well, “an aborted fetus dumped in a sewer full of toxic sludge.”
That’s the plot description Amazon provides for The Suckling, a 1990 horror film that I had never even heard of prior to this past Saturday night. A little research informed me that the film’s alternate title is the even more attention-grabbing Sewage Baby, and it was the sole directorial effort of Francis Teri – whose desire to make his own Z-grade horror movie, I can only assume, came from playing a police officer in 1988’s Flesh-Eating Mothers. True story.
The Suckling, a pro-life horror film if there ever was one, begins with the proclamation that it’s based on true events that took place in the early ’70s, but I suspect Teri wasn’t being completely honest about that. In any event, the opening crawl – no doubt inspired by the John Larroquette-narrated opening of Texas Chain Saw Massacre – tells of “the most bizarre and macabre event in all of Brooklyn’s modern history,” wherein twelve people were killed inside of a crude prostitution house that doubled as a back-alley abortion clinic.
The film centers on a young man and woman who are looking for the latter service. After their baby is aborted and flushed down the toilet, toxic waste barrels in the backyard begin to seep into the sewer. Naturally, this supernaturally re-animates the fetus, which soon grows into a towering, vengeful monster.
The cast of ill-fated characters, including the aforementioned young couple, house pimp/abortionist Big Mama and a rich businessman whose day of pleasure turns into a night of pain, find themselves trapped inside the house, which the monster has – through means that are never explained and barely matter – fully encased inside of, like, I think it’s supposed to be a womb?
Now you may be thinking this is all pretty smart social commentary – an abortion literally creating a monster that literally traps its victims inside of a womb-like environment and aborts *them* one-by-one- but I promise we’re still talking about a really bad monster movie here. I also promise that thinking too hard about The Suckling may actually be hazardous to your health.
If you’re looking for a really bad, under-seen monster movie that delivers all the schlock you could possibly ask for from a “best worst movie,” you need look no further than The Suckling, home to all the terrible acting and weird storytelling choices that make bad movies so much fun to watch. This movie has it all, and it’s highlighted by surprisingly good creature effects that outshine absolutely everything else on display in it.
Dean Mercil, who subsequently worked on Critters 3, Critters 4 and Face/Off, is credited as the special effects technician on The Suckling, and the titular “sewage baby” is actually pretty impressive at times. It’s clearly, for the most part, a man in a monster suit, and the creature can best be described as “bootleg Pumpkinhead.” In a better movie, one could argue that “The Suckling” could’ve gone on to become a franchise icon of sorts. In The Suckling, well, he’s a cool monster swimming in a sea of glorious garbage.
At a time when the home video market was booming, one can assume that Francis Teri knew that all he really needed was a good title, a good tagline and an attention-grabbing cover, and The Suckling no doubt checks off all three of those boxes. And though the video stores of my own youth are far gone, now twenty eight years later, my decision to watch The Suckling this past weekend reminds that there’s still one universal truth about the horror genre: sometimes, a title, a tagline and a poster are more than enough.
The Suckling is bad movie gold. And it’s just waiting for you to fall in love with it.