Parents (1989) w/ guest reviewer Erin McGinn

Packing up and moving across the country is probably hard on most kids.  It appears to be the case for young Michael, who appears to have some pre-existing issues anyway.  He moves into a new home with his mom and dad (Randy Quaid), and settles in before starting school.  His parents seem to be pretty distant, and his dad is very strict and a bit of a dick.  When Mike starts school in the fall, there is another new kid in school, a girl who is a total freak job, who takes a liking to our main character.  Their first assignment is to draw a picture of their family, and the teacher finds that Mike’s picture is a bit disturbing, so she contacts the school counselor and thinks there might be a problem at home.

Little do they know, there is a serious problem at home.  It seems like mom and dad really love their meat. It’s meat for every meal. Meat, meat, meat!  This usually isn’t too big of a deal, except in this case it’s the type of meat that’s an issue, in that it’s human meat!  That’s right, mom and pop are cannibals.  Dad has a new job at a lab that has access to cadavers, so it is a virtual buffet of man flesh.  Mike is having strange dreams that have to do with the food he is eating, so he is growing suspicious.  After getting in trouble with his father after he and the new girl from school trash the house (she gets drunk and has him take his clothes off… WTF, they are like 11?), he grows more distant from his parents, as if that were possible.

One night he decides to find out what the dilly is, and goes down to the basement, which turns out to be a temporary butcher shop.  After finding a leg hanging from the ceiling, he doesn’t feel comfortable in that house anymore for some reason.  He seeks help from the counselor, and brings her back to his house to show her what’s going on.  They go downstairs, but it has been scrubbed clean, so she thinks he is full of shit, until they find a body in the crawl space!  Mike freaks out and runs, leaving the counselor behind, where she is brutally murdered by his family.  That night it’s fresh meat for dinner, only now, Mike knows where it comes from and isn’t hungry.  A brief fight with his dad results in Mike stabbing his father and running away.  As his dad chases him down for the kill, mom steps in and stabs him in the back; but is killed shortly after.  Dad chases Mike to the basement, but doesn’t last long as there is a fire raging upstairs and the gas line has been broken.  The boy escapes and the house explodes.  In the epilogue we find that the boy is sent to live with his loving grandparents… but his dad had to acquire a taste for human flesh from somewhere!

Alex’s Thoughts:  I am going to apologize toErin right away for what I am about to do to this film.  Now that that’s out of the way… this might be the most boring movie I have ever seen.  The first full hour of this movie had absolutely nothing going on. NOTHING.  This thing seems like it might have been written as a half-hour Tales from the Crypt or Twilight Zone episode, and someone thought it would make a good feature film.  Everything that happens in this movie could easily be set in a 22 minute TV episode.  They try to use that extra time to build tension, but I really don’t think it worked.  We get it, the dad is a jerk, that was established early on; no need to keep reinforcing it.  The climax, to me, is anything but, and was a disappointment overall.  Maybe this movie is nostalgic for some, but it didn’t do anything for me.  Alex Rates This Movie 2/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I am confused, I couldn’t decide whether Parents was supposed to make me a vegetarian, or if I was supposed to be scared.  Bob Balaban is more known for comedy and I can’t help but think he was trying to pull off some sort of dark comedy, but what we get instead is an over inflated Tales From the Dark Side reject. I didn’t have a problem with the pace of the movie, but there wasn’t enough payoff for our patience. I was amused by Quaid the entire time he was on the screen, but again we don’t get enough of him. I didn’t hate this movie but it felt arbitrary, and by that I mean completely unnecessary and I failed to understand the point of the movie, and yes not all movies need to make a statement, but it should at least entertain. Tim Rates This Movie 4/10

Erin’s Thoughts: When “Parents” showed up as a recommended movie for me in Netflix, I was pretty excited. B-horror movie starring Randy Quaid? About cannibals? What could go wrong with that?? Apparently – a lot. To start with, the movie is incredibly slow. It’s only about an hour and 18 minutes, but the first 3/4 of the movie feels like it just drags on and on and on. I think the production team was going for suspense, but I was mostly bored. However, to me the biggest problem was the kid, and this is a huge issue since the movie revolves around him. Not only is the character of Michael boring and uninteresting, Bryan Madorsky is a terrible actor. Terrible. According to IMDB, Madorsky never went on to do anything else – big shocker there. Having a decent child actor is what helps to make movies like “The Omen” and “The Shining” stand out from the rest, and this movie definitely suffers from having a horrendous actor. The last 20 minutes of the movie were decent (and more of what I expected the entire movie to be like), but you have to sit through a lot of crap to get to that point – and it’s really not worth it. When I’m feeling particularly cannibalistic in the future, I think I’ll stick with “Soylent Green.”  Erin Rates This Movie 2/10

“Michael… are you going to eat your meat?”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue