• The Suckling (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: March 26th, 2019.
    Director: Francis Teri
    Cast: Frank Rivera, Marie Michaels, Gerald Preger, Lisa Petruno, Janet Sovey, Michael Gingold
    Year: 1990
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    The Suckling – Movie Reviews:

    Rebecca (Lisa Petruno) is pregnant and her boyfriend, Phil (Michael Logan), the father, is none too happy about it. She doesn’t want to have an abortion but he’s insistent that at the very least they go check out an underground abortion clinic run on the top floor of a brothel. The woman in charge, Big Mama (Marie Michaels) is a surly, tough older woman but she takes Rebecca into the back room where she’s drugged and the fetus is removed from her body. When what’s left of it is flushed down the toilet, it winds up in the sewers below the building where radioactive waste leaking from a barrel above drops down onto it.

    You can kind of see where this is going, right? Before you know it, the fetus has grown to adult size proportions and its fingers replaced by claws. Rows of sharp teeth adorn its mouth and its umbilical cord seems to be able to be used as a whip! Rebecca, Phil and the prostitutes and tough guys that inhabit Big Mama’s whorehouse/abortion clinic soon find themselves trapped inside the building with this ‘suckling’ making its way through the place, killing people off one by one… all while tensions rise amongst the ‘human’ characters who are soon at one another’s throats with just as much anger and energy as their common foe!

    As goofy and gory as it is crass and stupid, The Suckling is, if nothing else, a pretty entertaining low budget mix of exploitation and horror. Politically sensitive viewers need not apply (abortions are literally performed with coat hangers in this movie!), this isn’t a picture for that crowd, but if you can appreciate raunchy humor and impressive creature effects then odds are good that you’ll get a kick out of the picture. If you’ve ever wanted to see a grown man in a beanie ‘engage’ with a woman of the evening and a phallic marital aid, well, this movie will let you check that off of your bucket list.

    The acting in the film isn’t perfect, but the cast of mostly one and done performers are fine, if unremarkable. There are some scenes that are a bit too talky and attempts to give a cliché roster of characters some personality fall mostly flat, but tacky wardrobe choices and gratuitous nudity help us forget about these things. Anytime that the monster is on screen, the movie works really well. The practical effects are delightfully rubbery and the strong gore set pieces are handled quite nicely (though more of the murder set pieces take place off of the screen than they probably should have).

    Still, there’s fun to be had here if you’re in the right frame of mind for it. The movie doesn’t perfectly exploit its premise but there’s enough goofy, gory, dumb entertainment to be had from the picture that it’s worth a watch. For a picture made on a pretty low budget, the scenes of inspired creativity (which, again, almost always feature the creature) are impressive enough that we can forgive some of the picture’s misfires.

    The Suckling – Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome presents The Suckling in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a new 2k scan of the film’s original 16mm negative and it looks great. It’s on the grainy side, as 16mm productions often are, but the elements look to have been in great shape as there’s very little print damage outside of the occasional small white speck. Colors, reds especially, look really good here and black levels are fine too. Compression artifacts are a non-issue and there are no problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement that are visible. Detail is generally very strong, as is depth and texture, and while closeup shots maybe not so surprisingly look the best, even medium and long-distance shots really shine. This is another very impressive looking transfers from Vinegar Syndrome.

    The DTS-HD Mono track, in the film’s native English, sounds quite good. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Dialogue is generally just fine, easy enough to understand without any issues to note. A few lines here and there sound a bit muffled but it’s nothing major. The score and sound effects are punchier than you might expect as well.

    Extras start off with Teenage Mutant Ninja Fetus, a thirteen-minute video interview with Fangoria/Rue Morgue writer Michael Gingold, who was one of two men to play the monster in the movie. Here, looking very dapper sitting beside the warm glow of a fireplace, Gingold talks about getting the opportunity to play the monster while he was in college, his reactions to hearing the plot idea for the first time and how he thought it might be a Troma film, how coked out NYPD officers saved the day during the shoot one night, what it was like acting inside the suit and how it was hard to see while inside, key scenes that he worked on, the difficulties of having to break through a wall and quite a bit more. It’s a fun interview, quite interesting.

    Also included on the disc is a video interview with writer/director Francis Teri that runs twelve-minutes. He talks about how much work went into the production and how he had a lot of good help, difficulties that they encountered during the shoot and how filmmaking was much harder than he thought that it would be. He acknowledges the ridiculousness of the idea and whether or not it was meant to be a commentary on abortion, how he met the FX artist he worked with, how much it cost to create the creature effects, how certain scenes were put together and more. Good stuff.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is an archival still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie and Vinegar Syndrome packages this with some nice reversible cover artwork.

    Slip cover collectors will be interested in buying directly from Vinegar Syndrome where they can get a limited-edition slip featuring exclusive artwork from Earl Kessler Jr. that is limited to 1,500 pieces.

    The Suckling – The Final Word:

    The Suckling doesn’t quite hit the delirious heights that you want it to in terms of its trash quotient, but it definitely has its moments and the creature effects are great. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray really presents the film in fantastic shape and the two interviews that make up most of the extra features tell some fun stories. All in all, a fine release for an imperfect but enjoyably tasteless little monster romp.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Suckling Blu-ray screen caps!