4/1/10

Parasite (1982): The Bugg Catches Demi Moore (or Vice-Versa)


There are a few directors whose names seem to stand on their own as a descriptive. Ed Wood and Lloyd Kaufman, I’m looking at you. There’s another name that always conjures similar images in my mind and that is Charles Band. The Full Moon head honcho has been involved in so many things over the years with a fair share of hits and misses to show for it. In the past, I’ve looked at a couple of Full Moon productions before, but I haven’t got around to talking about Mr. Band the director. With 1982’s Parasite, I finally get my chance. Band got his first chance to direct when he made the 1973 Last Tango in Paris parody, Last Foxtrot to Burbank following that up with the demonic car film Crash! in 1977. For the next few years, he produced a few exploitation titles, but when he was drawn back to directing, it was for a post-apocalyptic, 3-D, monster movie filled with splatter, and co-starring a young actress named Demi Moore.


Dr. Paul Dean (Robert Glaudini) thought he was just creating a new kind of parasite for the government, but when agents from ‘The Merchants’ come to steal his experiment, the doctor becomes infected by his own parasite. He escapes with a silver cylinder containing the rest of the parasites. Stumbling across a small desert town, he rents a room to serve as a laboratory. While trying to figure out a way to stop the menace growing inside him, Paul runs afoul of Ricus and his gang who steal the cylinder away. The Doctor, along with local lemon farmer Pat (Demi Moore) and the town bartender Collins (Al Fann), must try to recover the parasites, find a cure, and keep them out of the hands of Wolf, the agent for ’The Merchants”.

When I was browsing through some DVD’s and saw the yellow banner proclaiming Parasite as “Demi Moore’s Feature Debut”, I knew I had to check this one out. The addition of producer/director/composer Charles Band only served to seal the deal. I’ve been a big fan of Moore ever since I saw her opposite John Cusack in One Crazy Summer. Since then she’s made quite a few films I like, The Seventh Sign, Striptease, and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, as well as a few like Ghost and Indecent Proposal that I just can’t stand. (And she’s even bucked the Catherine Zeta-Jones Effect and married a dumbass and remained hot.) Moore has been a criminally underused actress, and even as far back as Parasite, she’s the best thing in the film. Sure, she might be playing an orphaned Lemon farmer in a pair of high waisted shorts, but she does the absolute best with what she was given. There are a few moments when her inexperience shows, but compared to the rest of the cast, it’s easy to see why she went on to greater success.

The top-billed star of the film is Robert Glaudini. He’s one of those character actors whose face seems familiar, but more than likely it’s not. He’s had small parts in mainstream films like Mississippi Burning and Bugsy, but his highest profile parts have been in films like Grunt!: The Wrestling Movie, Cutting Class, and Parasite. As Dr. Paul Dean, Glaudini isn’t really bad, but he’s definitely not afraid to take it way over the top. With kind of a Peter Weller-esque lankiness, he sweats and very over-emotes his way through his scenes in a most entertaining fashion. The scenes he shares with gang leader Ricus, played by Luca Bercovici, are the most fun to watch. Bercovici, who does for foreheads what Robert Z’Dar does for chins, really entertains with his After School Special by way of The Warriors performance. Along with the equally hammy James Davidson as Wolf ‘The Merchant’, they really give the film a kind of watchable cheesiness that I appreciated. There's also a small role played by Cherie Curie of the band The Runaways. So producers take note, if this gets remade, you're going to need Dakota Fanning.

At some point in its original run, Parasite was shown as a 3-D film, and I’m sure like James Cameron, Charles Band had a vision that was at least days and days in the making. Watching the film in a 2 dimensional format, I could not figure what was supposed to have been the impressive 3-D visuals. The special effects are about on par with anything you would expect to see in a Full Moon film though a few of the gore scenes really shine due to the liberal use of splatter. Gorehounds will likely see at least a few things to like here, but they are rare. When the parasites start getting large enough to crawl about on their own, or its own I should say, don’t expect a plague of giant leeches, the slug-like crawler sports the necessary gooey look but without much menace.

I didn’t consider that this review would come out on April 1, and I hope that doesn’t make anyone think I’m pulling their leg. No April Fools, I promise. It was not a modern classic, and not even up to par with some of the best offerings of Band’s work as a producer. However, it was a well-paced, slice of sci-fi/ horror schlock that gets a well-deserved bonus for starring Demi Moore. Parasite is not a film that I would claim to want to watch repeatedly, but I could see watching it a couple more times with friends. So check this one out, it may not be the best thing you’ve ever seen, but it might just get under your skin.

Bugg Rating

2 comments:

  1. Sounds intriguing enough for those who appreciate schlock as I do. But you forgot Demi Moore's best film: Nothing But Trouble. It embarrasses me that I used to watch that one on cable every tie it aired back in the '90s. ahh, youth.

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  2. Outside of the limited gore this one was a bit of a trial, but does go to show how inventive Empire and Charlie can get on a zero budget. I am obliged to love this film though since it has a rattlesnake

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