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John’s Horror Corner: Parasite (1982), another wonderfully gory Alien (1979) rip-off featuring a mutant tadpole-hagfish and Demi Moore!

June 2, 2018

MY CALL: This is exactly what you want out of a B-movie: the plot and acting isn’t too bad (actually, it’s fine), the gore is abundant and solid quality, and the creature effects transcend the low budget. Oh, and it’s got LOADS of action and effects scenes providing excellent pacing. MORE MOVIES LIKE ParasiteFor more low budget Alien (1979) rip-offs, you should seek Contamination (1980; aka Alien Contamination), Alien 2: On Earth (1980), Scared to Death (1980), Galaxy of Terror (1981), Forbidden World (1982; aka Mutant), Inseminoid (1982; aka Horror Planet), Creature (1985), Creepazoids (1987), Blue Monkey (1987), Nightflyers (1987), Deep Space (1988), The Terror Within (1989), The Rift (1990), Dark Universe (1993) and Zombies: The Beginning (2007).

IMDB synopsis: “Paul Dean (Robert Glaudini; Wavelength, The Alchemist) has created a deadly parasite that is now attached to his stomach. He and his female companion, Patricia Welles (Demi Moore; Bunraku, Ghost, The Seventh Sign), must find a way to destroy it while also trying to avoid Ricus (Luca Bercovici; Frightmare, The Granny, Scanner Cop), his rednecks, and an evil government agent named Merchant (James Davidson).”

Director Charles Band (Meridian, Doctor Mordrid, Hideous!, Head of the Family) gets this low budget Alien-riff off to a solid start with excellent pacing—a most unusual perk for low budget horror of its era… or most any horror of any era. I’m so accustomed to opening a film with a solid scare or death or gore scene, followed by 40-60 minutes of dragging exposition before the monsters are on screen and the deaths finally stack up.

In the present case, we open with a nightmarish scene of someone tied down probably for some sort of experiment; after a laboratory accident a scientist is parasitized by a leech-like-tadpole-thing that uses its acidic fish slime to dissolve through his skin; slow-motion fist fights and laser guns garner a kind grindhouse throwback; and exploitation shots (although this is no exploitation film, really) featuring nudity and sexual assault and even a topless fight with a feral woman. That’s a high level of action and effects to kick things off, and all this happens in the first act. Bravo, Charles Band. You have my attention!

These old B-movies make me giggle so much. Welcome to “the future”—1992! The world is populated by 80s punk-gangs of miscreants, silver is the main currency, and we have laser guns! Doctor Paul Dean is wandering the modern wasteland, staying in seedy B&Bs doing hotel room research to find a cure for his ever-growing stomach parasite. But once the local gang takes an interest in him, they steal his coffee Thermus which contains a much larger acid-slimy facehugger-chestburster-tadpole thing that, of course, kills someone in a goofy creature effects scene.

Hot on Dean’s infected trail is the laser-pointer-toting Merchant, who drives around in a mega-luxury car and lases the crap out of everyone. That pen-laser thing is deadly! Meanwhile Dean is racing to find a cure to save himself and keep the monster from reproducing millions of spores that would surely mean the end of mankind. All the while the parasite has grown to the size of a small dog and looks like a tadpole and a deep sea hagfish produced a toothy-mawed nightmare spawn similar to a juvenile larva in The Deadly Spawn (1983). Effects-wise, it’s a slimy rubber hand puppet, and I love it! Just about the right size for Dean to try to capture it with a blanket as if it were a stray feral cat.

The gore is actually just as fun as the creature effects. We see monstrously emaciated victims after the parasite feeds and it bursts out of their face (much like in Alien 2: on Earth), there’s stomach-bursting gobbledygook, and the closing shot of a flesh-melted char-broiled burn victim is just excellent.

As far as B-movies go, I just love this. And Demi Moore plays a major role in it. Enough said.

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