As an important part of Random Movie Roulette’s history, dating back to as early as the show’s conception, it would seem only fitting that our 100th episode be fully dedicated to the madness that (kinda) started it all for us. In addition to the monumental celebration that the 100th episode was, it feels only necessary to detail in writing what exactly makes the colossal insanity of The Suckling worthy of being honored for our 100th episode milestone.
In the tamest of descriptions, The Suckling could be described as John Carpenter’s The Thing where the threat is a giant aborted fetus monster mutated by toxic waste. For as shocking and absurd as the general plot description already is, the film’s opening crawl does no favors to soften that blow. The opening titles recount events that occurred on the evening of April 1st 1973, (because this movie’s existence wasn’t enough of a practical joke) in which twelve people were murdered within a Brooklyn brothel/abortion clinic (which are things that apparently exist in this world). Only one woman survived, and was immediately put into a mental institution. The final paragraph asserts “Could the rantings of a girl, supposedly insane, be true? The makers of this film believe so.”, as if we’re supposed to assume that these events actually happened.
The opening scene follows the young female protagonist as she’s having a nightmare about her upcoming operation and premonitions of her eventual institutionalization. As thunder and lightning strike outside her window, the camera with a cool misty blue tint centers focus on her asleep in bed with a crucifix hanging on the wall above. The lighting and invocation of religious imagery bear shocking similarities to The Exorcist. Along with the siege narrative as seen in Night of the Living Dead, as well as the monster design bearing slight resemblance to the xenomorph of Alien, The Suckling is an aborted amalgamation of the most famous horror movies of the 70’s.
Each member of the cast looks as if they themselves are a knockoff version of other famous characters and actors, ranging from an assemblage of Travis Bickle, Danny Tanner, Billy Dee Williams, and the aforementioned Golden Girls; yet despite being a shameless rip-off in almost every way, The Suckling manages to remain its own unique, demented creation just by virtue of committing to its insane premise.
After the incredibly jarring opening scene, that stylistically and content-wise have almost nothing to do with the rest of the movie, the young couple happen upon what looks to be an abandoned Brooklyn crack house. This turns out to actually be a much hyped brothel/abortion clinic run by what looks like half of the cast of “The Golden Girls”, who also happen to be the only actors giving performances far more competent than a film this trashy deserves. Once the procedure has been completed, which is indicated to us by Big Mama cleaning blood and bits of flesh off of a coat hanger and then proceeds to hang up a shirt with it, we see the poor fetus being flushed down the toilet and landing in a puddle of toxic waste in the sewer pipe.
The puppetry and costuming work on the fetus throughout all of its various stages and transformations, while nothing on the level of a major Hollywood blockbuster, is fairly impressive given that the creature effects cost only $10,000 of its $50,000 budget, though they still cut corners everywhere they can when it comes to actually showing any monster violence.
Once the monster returns to the brothel and has the heroes trapped inside, not much ensues outside of pointless bickering, and even more pointless escape attempts. Even though bullets are no match for the wood paneling of this house walls. As the main cast gets picked off one by one, the fetus finally comes face to face with its mother. Through an awe-inspiring feat of editing and animatronics, the monster in its fully mutated form makes a run for its mother while rapidly devolving and shrinking into miniature forms of itself until it is small enough to fit back inside where it was first conceived. It is then cut back to the insane asylum where this poor woman has been sentenced, and the final scene really squanders any good will that was left for a movie this sleazy, by going to the one length that one would hope that a movie like this wouldn’t go.
The final scene of the movie involves two orderlies taking turns raping the sedated woman: a step that any decent person would find to be an extreme that ruins an otherwise shlocky, ridiculous fun time. They do get their comeuppance in the end as the Suckling, now living inside of its mother, uses its umbilical cord powers to murder the rapists and concludes on a shot of their blood splashing on the window of the cell as other inmates watch.
While this movie has always been a source of ironic joy for us to berate on this show over the years, the list of people who would manage to find any sense of enjoyment out of a film this disgustingly depraved and exploitative is unsurprisingly slim, and those numbers are all but completely diminished by the time we reach the final scene, for entirely understandable reasons. It’s a movie that has been notorious within our circles since we first discovered it, and now with its new Vinegar Syndrome remaster, it’s bound to have gained even more notoriety within cult horror communities, and it’s the type of movie that defines the type of schlocky nonsense that defines our show.