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Friday 3 May 2013

Burl reviews Parasite! (1981)

Hi, it’s Burl comin’ at ya! Ha ha, yes, I’m here with a review of a movie, and this one goes by the name of Parasite! It’s an early picture from the mind of the man with the miniature obsession, Charles Band, the auteur behind Head of the Family and so many others! In his day, Band was a sort of late-model Roger Corman, and though I’ve never cared much for his pictures, I admire the fellow nonetheless!
Parasite, in its theatrical release at least, was a 3-D picture, and Band later followed it up with another dimensional epic, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, which I’ll review for you if I can ever find a copy to watch! Ha ha, haven’t seen that one in years! Both of these were a part of the early-80s 3-D boom which brought us Jaws 3-D, Friday the 13th part 3, Silent Madness and Treasure of the Four Crowns, among others!
Parasite opens with a dream-flashback sequence which fools you into thinking it’s going to be a much more interesting picture than it actually is! A perpetually-sweaty scientist played by Robert Glaudini (the playwright who would later script Jack Goes Boating) has created a pair of parasites, which look like someone put a snake and Mayor McCheese into a telepod! A lab accident leads to one of them nestling inside his abdomen; he packs up the other in a thermos and hits the road! He drives a stolen ambulance through the desert and ends up in a little town called Joshua!
Joshua’s population consists of one elderly café proprietor; a gang of punks led by a featherhair named Reekus; a grumpy pump jockey; a farmer played by Demi Moore (later to become famous in No Small Affair and other films); and Miss Vivian Blaine, who plays an ex-showgirl innkeeper, and whom you might recall from the alien zombie picture The Dark!
It’s the future, apparently – 1992, ha ha! – so everyday things like gas pumps and coffee makers have little Plexiglas accoutrements stuck on them; but otherwise Joshua seems pretty resolutely stuck in the early 1980s! Glaudini flashes his ingratiating smile around town a bit, then sets up shop in Miss Vivian Blaine’s rooming house! After this there’s trouble involving the gang, a Lamborghini-driving bad guy, and, too infrequently, the parasites!
It would be great if there were more parasite attacks and much less dialogue like “Maybe a little rattlesnake tea will loosen your tongue a little!” It’s a very badly-directed production, but there are at least some comfortingly familiar faces in the cast! Rainbeaux Smith, from The Pom Pom Girls, Massacre at Central High and others, appears as a topless lady at the beginning of the picture, and we also get an appearance from Cherie Curie of The Runaways and Twilight Zone: The Movie! Reekus the gang leader is played by Luca Bercovici, who later directed the pretty terrible Gremlins rip-off Ghoulies!
The best thing about the picture is a sort of amorphous 80s quality you can’t pin down or properly explain, but only feel! The grainy, layered quality of the photography is appealing somehow, and the parade of objects or slimeballs launched into the camera make me wish I could see it in its original three dimensions! But it’s really a pretty terrible movie in the end: a plodding, repetitive, badly-written expansion on the dinner scene in Alien! I give Parasite one and a half pipe impalements!

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