Quarantine Video Club Presents: Parents (1989)

An obscure dark comedy, Parents brings to us a tale of a boy in 1950’s suburbia, and his parents…who are cannibals. Randy Quaid presents an appropriately creepy dad to young Michael, a young boy with weird dreams. One night, Michael’s dreams wake him up and he leaves his room to talk to his parents about it. In the same way some kids walk in on their parents having sex, Michael walks in on his parents eating…someone. But that’s not where the weirdness begins.

This movie is a bizarre hybrid of genres. It’s one part horror movie, one part dark comedy, and one part art-house film. The art-house elements come from how this movie is shot. The movie bludgeons the viewer with the fact that this is Michael’s story, and so most of the scenes are shot at a low angle before we see him, or at a wide angle. It also has some fun with sets and props as sometimes the room slowly spins around him, or Michael’s father leans into the camera (at a high angle) to lecture him. The way the shots are framed in this movie is one of my favorite aspects of it.

The comedy is found in the over the top acting and how matter-of-fact and ordinary Michael’s parents make of their appetites. Mary Beth Hurt, playing Michael’s mother, is the stereotypical “I don’t understand why Michael just won’t eat his dinner” caring matron and loving spouse to Randy Quaid’s “Leave it to (Cannibalistic) Beaver” father figure. Juxtaposing 1950’s stereotypes and Michael’s innocence to this movie’s plot makes it impossible not to laugh at this “little rascals turned horror” movie.

Nice to meat you

The horror element is self-explanatory, as the movie shows us the gory results of cannibalism. Often, it looks like pork or other barbecued meats, but we do get some good, gory horror makeup effects for the occasional, visceral action scenes. Michael has a dream early in the movie where he’s swimming in blood, but it looks tropical punch Kool-Aid and falls more under the “dark comedy” umbrella. Around the middle of Act 2 the movie pivots into a thriller movie, as it becomes clear to Michael that he must do something to save himself.

Gotta hand it to ’em, this movie has some great effects

If you have a dark sense of humor, or enjoy horror movies, then Parents is the movie for you. I was surprised by how much this movie entertained me, and I found myself constantly asking “where are they going next?” How this movie chooses to raise the stakes while Michael’s Parents eat human steaks will certainly keep you hungry for more, up until the end.

I watched this movie for free on Tubi.tv.

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