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Fright Fortnight: Parents, the Best Horror Film You’ve Never Seen

4 mins read

To me, there are four types of horror; firstly, there’s the slasher film, then there’s the psychological and comedic horror, then lastly there’s the type of horror that is so disgusting that it will make you feel physically sick.

So, if you’re looking for a horror film that perfectly deals with all four I’d like to recommend the 1989 film Parents.

Parents has to be one of the most underrated horror films of all time. Directed by Bob Balaban, the movie has gone overlooked by audiences for decades despite, in my opinion, being a real treasure of 80s horror.

The movie stars Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt as two seemingly normal parents. Their son however, played by Bryan Madorsky, doesn’t quite fit the happy 1950’s suburban family image.

Although, as the title suggests, this film doesn’t follow the “evil child” horror stereotype and it is the Parents that are truly disturbing, which viewers will figure out quite early on.

An ordinary family dinner. Image Credit: Vestron Pictures

It’s probably not a spoiler to warn anyone planning on watching this that it does feature many scenes depicting cannibalism and depicts meat in the grossest way possible, so it probably isn’t wise to watch this whilst you’re having a meal- a mistake I made when I watched it for the first time. 

Like I said, this film does all the different types of horror really well. It’s suspenseful, it’s often repulsive, it can be darkly humorous and it ends with a classic slasher horror fight sequence. So there’s really something for most people to enjoy- or to be squeamish at.

Another reason to watch would be the striking cinematography. The 50s setting gives the film a stylish yet unsettling vibe, complimented by vivid use of colours and shadows throughout. The black and white dream sequences are also visually ominous and many of the images will stay in your mind for quite a while afterwards.

But by far the best element of the film would be the performances. The breakout lead performance from Bryan Madorsky made the film for me. His innocent nature is endearing, while also giving the movie a darkly comedic feeling of dread, as he is unaware of what’s happening.

But the scene stealers are the Parents themselves. Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt are creepier than any of the iconic slasher villains, as they give off an almost sitcom charm, but with deeply disturbing and gross undertones.

Image Credit: Vestron Pictures

So, if you’re planning on watching a horror film that you’ve never seen before for your Halloween marathons, I’d suggest this one. 

Although it’s not my favourite horror film of all time, it’s definitely worth a watch as it’s severely overlooked and deserves more love for the disturbing performances, stylish production and creepy direction that satisfies all of the horror movie motifs that we enjoy watching this time of year.

Feature Image Credit: Vestron Pictures

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First year film and media student.

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