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By Mariko McDonald | June 22, 2005

As I may have mentioned in previous columns, my husband and I both work at a local independent video store here in Vancouver. One of the neat things about working in a video store is that studios and distributors often ship us boxes of DVDs for “screening purposes”. These “screeners” are of varying quality, mostly in the bad to awful category since it’s assumed that we’re buying the “good” stuff anyways. My husband, being the T.A. nut that he is (T.A. meaning “treat appreciation”, our shorthand for “so bad it’s good”), will bring home piles of these at a time, although we very rarely actually watch any of them.

But, just like with “Dragonstorm”, he managed to find something too good to pass up. It was a horror movie, about a mutant aborted fetus called “The Suckling”. It was also appropriate in light of certain recent personal events. You see, it had never even occurred to me, until it was pointed out by every member of my family and that of my husband; that since we were married we were obviously going to have children. Right now. Nothing against kids, they’re great, but if I’d realized before we got engaged that every family outing we attend from now until the end of time was going to be a barrage of “so, you going to make her a grandma soon?” and “well, you’d better not wait too long…” we may have just decided to keep living in sin. Sticking with the theme of “reasons not to get knocked up” we decided to program “The Suckling” with “It’s Alive” and call it a night.

It was a fairly good turnout, with 7 people to start, but as usual with the really sketchy programs, I was the only female in attendance. Karl, in honor of the last program he attended brought along Season 2 of “Chappelle’s Show” so that I could finally watch the Prince sketch. Being that my husband had yet to show up we burned through about 3 episodes before we decided to get the ball rolling.

I don’t actually know very much about “The Suckling” other than the fact that it was made in 1990 and was released in the UK as “Sewage Baby”. It concerns a young unwed mother whose preppy boyfriend takes her to a back alley abortion-clinic/brothel (!) so that she can be drugged and the fetus aborted against her will. After being flushed down the toilet (!) the fetus comes into contact with some sort of radioactive waste and in probably the only cool sequence in this entire turgid piece of s**t, the fetus mutates into a giant Alien-esq monster who then takes the brothel/abortion-clinic hostage and kills the residents one by one. So far so good, right? Wrong.

Being aficionados of trash cinema, the Peanut Gallery and I are able to forgive many cinematic crimes: bad acting, bad writing, cheap sets and costumes. But when those elements are paired with such brain bogglingly bad taste and a bizarrely conservative political tone, these things become harder to forgive. It was almost as though the sole motivation behind the film was the filmmakers going “hey, abortion is kind of gross and controversial… let’s make a horror movie. You know what else was cool? ‘Alien’. Yeah, ‘Alien’…”

Graeme commented that he couldn’t mimic woodenness that bad. Brendan hypothesized that the actor in question was actually the director’s “dumb, short, fat brother” which led to a shout of “Clint!” from Karl. I was confused by the hokey sex humor that was mixed in with the preachy morality and blood and gore. My husband was more confused by the “Mario Brothers princess music”.

The rest of the beginning of the film was spent trying to guess which lame twist of the plot would happen next. Brendan called the epic pimp smack down and Karl made the requisite off-color coat hanger joke before it actually appeared on screen, somehow even more offensive. I mean, I’m far from being a prude, but if you’re going to be that deliberately offensive, don’t hide it behind lame moralizing. I just couldn’t cope with something so sleazy, yet so earnest. My sister showed up and commented that it was kind of like the filmmakers had to pull a bunch of plot elements out of a hat and make a movie with them.

Brendan quipped that the movie was porn level bad and my husband bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t throw things at the TV, since it was his TV and we can’t afford a new one. Then he started hitting himself in the head. My sister tuned out and started crocheting an iPod cozy with cat ears on it. Then, something happened that has never happened during a Den of Sin night before. My husband and I both left our apartment to hang outside while he had a smoke, in the middle of the movie. See, normally I’ll stay through whatever just in case one of the Peanut Gallery makes a really good retort, but this just wasn’t worth it. When we got back my husband immediately checked the running time, only to find out that the others had already done so in our absence.

Granted there were moments. The Alien-Fetus monster was pretty cool. There was a neat stop-motion hand sequence lifted right out of “Evil Dead 2”. The terrible acting and writing was sort of amusing. But even that wasn’t enough to keep Graeme from leaving to grab a coffee with a mere 17 minutes left in the movie. Once it was all over, my husband actually wanted to scratch the disc to save others from the torturous experience, but we decided it would make a much better Secret Santa gift for next year’s gift exchange. Poor suckers.

In an attempt to cleanse our systems we put on some “Harvey Birdman” and Graeme returned, but declined to know what he’d missed. Mike tattled on my husband and I to our friend Nick who had just managed to move into his new apartment in a mere 60 minutes. Then Mike left and my husband apologized to everyone.

The evening continues in part two of ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: BABY CRAZY>>>

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