Our review of Fright Pack: Man's Worst Friends, published October 21st, 2005, is also available.
"Once it gets inside you, it will do anything to get out!"
It's 1992, the evil future, one of atomic wasteland and evil corporations (well, they got that last part right). Scientist Dr. John Dean (Robert Glaudini, The Princess Diaries), hired by the equally-evil government (again, pretty spot-on prediction), creates a deadly parasite. In a lab accident, one enters his body; the other he traps in a canister. He flees to the wild-west village of Joshua to study the critters and kill them before they release millions of spores that can kill as many people. Run-ins with young toughs and the town sweetheart, Patricia Welles (Demi Moore, yes THAT Demi Moore), cause both good and bad consequences for the humble people of Joshua. The canned parasite is accidentally released and starts wreaking havoc like any tadpole/lamprey hybrid can and will. To complicate things, an evil corporate guy, Wolf, AKA "The Merchant" (James Davidson) is after Dr. Dean to recover the parasites. Will he capture the doctor, breed the parasites, and threaten to destroy all corporate underlings in the name of profit? Only time—as in 84 minutes of this gore-filled flick from Anchor Bay—will tell.
Demi Moore could have found worse projects in which to practice her craft. And actually, she's not too bad. But that's not the point. What about the film? As Dr. Dean, stony-faced and doubling over in pain from the parasite nestled in his tummy, travels from dusty abode to dusty abode in the town of Joshua, we get a real sense of alienation. Joshua is a refuge for the survivors, a rough-and-tough small town. The "suburbs" and cities, on the other hand, are where orphans of the atomic fallout go to become corporate slaves, where company logos and serial numbers are tattooed in their skin forever. (Hmmm…reminds me of my temping days…) This indignation towards corporate hegemony is timely as ever. That's where the deconstruction of the higher meaning of this film ends. This is a fun, thoroughly ridiculous monster flick that will give you a good hour or so of glee, particularly when you have a friend at your side and a couple cold ones in front of you. Not that I recommend drinking and gore together if you have a weak stomach, but, uh, these effects aren't too realistic so you should be pretty safe. Yep—when blood looks like hot sauce, one doesn't have to turn away from the television in disgust.
Not that the effects aren't satisfactory. Sure, the tadpole-esque parasite has all the agility of inflexible molded plastic (gee, wonder why?)—and this by the guy who brought us the dinos in Jurassic Park!—but he sure looks cool exploding from the cranium of poor Miss Daley (Broadway star Vivian Blaine—ahem, I mean, MS. VIVIAN BLAINE per the credits). And where else can you see former member of the girl-rock band The Runaways, Cherie Currie, as Dana, give the parasite the time of his life under the sheets? In a scene more erotic than any of 9 1/2 Weeks, the parasite moves silkily under the covers after killing a bedridden Dana only to emerge, looking like he should be smoking a cigarette. Ah, you just gotta see it. Über effects guru Stan Winston did some good stuff here, and true to his Aliens modus operandi, there's a lot of monsters bursting from stomachs. Sweet! Parasite was created for 3-D effects, necessitating lots of cheesy slow-mo. In order to get the full 3-D effect without being able to access the special glasses and projector, I suggest you ask your viewing partner to screech, "It's coming straight at me, just like in 3-D!" (Special thanks to my roommate Tommy—I really believed you!)
The 2.00:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation was pleasing, but the picture was so grainy I thought I was watching a sandbox. Colors were flat, dull, and the picture was so fuzzy I had to keep checking if my glasses were on (they were). I could go into more detail but I think my main gripes are pretty heavy already—point is, this is an only so-so transfer. The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound didn't really do much for me, and wasn't much better than the Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround option. There was some constant fuzz on the track, so the clarity was less than perfect. Overall dispersion of sound to speakers was not very selective; it seemed mostly front-based. Music sounded slapped on, as did ADR dialogue. Apparently no one took time to really work on modulating and freshening up the sound on Parasite.
Extras? Come on, isn't a parasite exploding from the stomach of a gaunt doctor enough? Jeez, what more could you want? You better not, because the only extra is a theatrical trailer, which was moderately entertaining.
Surprisingly, this was one of the most fun movies I've seen in a long time. You know movies are in a precarious state when actual comedies bore you to tears, but a C-level gore flick about an overzealous parasite gets you giggling like a schoolgirl. If you're looking for some cheap, gory fun, I would be happy to recommend Parasite. Be warned, though—this sloppy transfer from Anchor Bay may be scarier than any insect death ever dramatized on film! Sentenced to one year working on a mutant ant farm!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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