Director: Charles Band
Cast: Demi Moore, Luca Bercovici, Tom Villard
So here’s another one of those films that made me crap my pants when I was a kid. Back when I was about 5 or 6 years old, I had this uncle who would take me to all the movies he’d go see, and that’s how I ended up seeing Parasite (1982). Never mind that it was an ‘R’ rated horror film with rape scenes and gore, my uncle just took me to everything he went to see with his girlfriend. I remember at one point his girlfriend realized I was frightened out of my skull and offered to hold my hand if I got too scared. For Parasite I held her hand the whole time! This was the first 3-D film I ever saw; it came out during a time when 3-D was enjoying a revival during the 80’s. The 3-D effects so impacted my young mind that I remember seeing freaking slugs everywhere, even after I’d left the theater! Ah, the delicacies of having a feeble and gullible mind! Those days are long gone and horror movies don’t really scare me anymore, but ahhh, the memories! Back then this movie frightened me like no other! I think what frightened me the most were the body horror elements, creatures squirming beneath the human skin is still a frightening idea to me. So this Halloween, I’ve decided to revisit films that scared me as a child and this was one of them, how did it measure up after all these years?
Parasite is a post apocalyptic science fiction horror story. It takes place in a society that is on the brink of extinction, with people living in a “dog eat dog” state of mind. The film follows a scientist who has created these slug creatures that live under your skin and then burst out of your body, killing you on their way out. He was making these things for the government to use as a weapon, but after creating them he decided he wants no part of it. Unfortunately, he’s created two slugs, one he keeps in a containment unit and the other has found a home beneath his skin! Now he must find a way to kill the slug within him, and destroy the experiment so it never reaches the hands of the government. Unfortunately, he escapes to a wasteland filled with gangs of idiots who live for raping and pillaging. Will he manage to kill all the slugs he’s created?
Parasite was a film produced and directed by b-movie mogul Richard Band. For those not in the know, Richard Band is responsible for all those Full Moon horror movies that include the Puppet Master, Bloodspecies, Dollman, Trancers and Demonic Toys movies among many others. But before creating Full Moon, he directed movies like Parasite, these Richard Band theatrical releases are way better than anything he ever did under Full Moon. I mean, these movies while still well within B-Movie parameters, where extremely watchable movies, which is something I can’t say for a lot of the films he directed and produced for Full Moon. During those early years, Richard Band directed films like Laserblast (1978) and Metal Storm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983), both of which are fun because they are bad. The dialog on these films is atrociously hilarious and the special effects are laughable, yet entertaining. Parasite complies with all the troupes you’d find in your a-typical post apocalyptic low budget movie, the end result was something along the lines of Italian Mad Max rip offs like 1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982) mixed with a little bit of David Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975).
The film does have a few amusing things about its cast. First, this was Demi Moore’s second theatrical role which shows once again that many stars start out their careers in cheap ass horror movies. Johnny Depp started out in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Meg Ryan on Amityville 3-D (1983) and Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger both started out in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994). On Parasite we get Demi Moore playing the role of the post apocalyptic survivor, her performance is nothing to brag about. The film also counts with Tom Villard in the role of Zeke, who gets to one of the better death scenes in the film. Some of you horror hounds out there might remember Tom Villard as the main villain in the obscure 90’s slasher film Pop Corn (1991). But the best performance in the whole film comes from a guy called Luca Bercovici who plays Ricus, the leader of the post apocalyptic gang. Bercovici went on to appear in bigger and better films, usually as the villain. Some of you might remember him as Kevin Costner rival in American Flyer (1985).
Still, there was something that set Parasite apart, something made it special. Sure it was a cheesy, low budget production all the way, but it had one great thing going for it: Stan Winston was doing the monster effects. That’s right, the same guy that created the creatures seen in Predator (1987), Aliens (1986), Terminator (1984) and Jurassic Park (1993) started out with Parasite, creating all the slimy slugs and the gory body horror. Some of the makeup effects truly stand out and when you mix those effects with 3-D you got yourself some horror movie magic that will make any five year old squirm in his theater seat. At that tender age I was subjected to slugs slithering beneath the skin of people, stomachs exploding and slugs splitting people’s heads apart, no wonder I grew to love horror movies! Stan Winston’s work alone elevates this film a bit, but truth be told, Parasite remains a low budget post apocalyptic film of the cheesiest caliber.
I mean, the cheese just flows here. For example, the government sends this really weird character called “The Merchant” to find the scientist that created the slugs. Funny part is this Merchant also shoots lasers…truth be told he’s like some sort of a Terminator who drives a black Lamborghini, which I’m sure was supposed to be a futuristic car, but now looks retro. In fact, the film is set in the “not too distant future” of 1992! That always cracks me up when movies do that, it reminded me of Escape from New York (1981), a film in which “the future” was 1988! Parasite was even promoted as being “the first futuristic monster movie”! Even funnier is that it’s supposed to be futuristic, but the town in which the film takes place looks like it came out of the Old West! But anyways, this is all part of the films b-movie charm. For a Charles Band film, this movie is actually pretty cool and has its moments. I remember the film had me by the throat during that scene in which everyone is just waiting for the slimy creature to pop out of that canister! That scene is still pretty effective in my book. Since Parasite was first released in 3-D back in 1982, you will see many things being hurled at the camera, the filmmakers really squeezed the 3-D to full effect, objects are always placed in the foreground so they would pop up. I remember the 3-D being a highlight. Some might consider this one to be in the lower echelon of post apocalyptic films, but I’d give anything to re-watch this one in a theater with those red and blue 3-D glasses and I'd especially give anything to feel those same, frightful chills I felt while watching this one as a kid.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5