Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Parasite (1997)

Incredibly bland and bearded Professor Richard Austin teaches a college class that is never defined, but involves him showing slides of elephantiasis. We know he's got a good reputation since he has a published textbook in this mystery field, and the Dean wants him to write a proposal for a grant the college just received.  He's also engaged to Aubrey, a woman who looks much younger than him, so he's got that going for him.

John Wilson,who appears to be the resident Professor of Paranormal Studies, invites Richard over for a dinner party where he's going to show off his newest paranormal find.  When Richard arrives, he's introduced to Helena Voyich, a bland middle aged woman with orthopaedic shoes and a quad cane, who claims to practice mesmerism, a lesser known offshoot of hypnotism. Richard is not impressed.

However the next day Helena proves her powers of mind control  by getting Aubrey to visit Richard to break their engagement (and then have no memory of their meeting). Skeptical no more, Richard meets with Wilson to see if they can work with Helena to research this new, exciting, unexplored, upcoming field of paranormal study - unlike Richard's undefined boring old area of study which has something to do with parasites and ballooning body parts.

In need of an unbiased subject, Richard nominates himself and Wilson agrees.  This doesn't seem to be the best way to collaborate on research. If Richard is the subject then there's no way for him to observe the experiment, make sure it follows scientific protocol, or provide unbiased observations or conclusions, but what the hell.  I'm sure everything will be fine. It's not like Helena might fall in love with you, try to take over your mind, and make you do horrible things if you reject her.

The study proves to be a touchy subject when another professor whose had interactions with Helena  says, 'I hear you're being experimented upon by Ms. Voyich," to which Richard flips and states that he is in fact doing the experiment, not being a guinea pig.  Oh poor deluded Richard, something must be broken in your brain.

Oh yeah, this experiments about to get all bent out of shape when Helena goes rogue and does her own mind control, which crazy Professor Charles has tried to warn Richard about, but it's too late now.  Richard's starting to act strange, has vacant eyes, sings Itsy Bitsy Spider during class, and ignores his fiance. And Wilson's out of town for a week, so what kind of valid data collection process do they have when the Mesmerist is running the experiments? Sounds like a 1800s seances and ectoplasm is right around the corner.

So many questions..... why would Richard allow himself to be Helena's subject when he knows she can control others minds?  If he's trying to get the grant, then why did he volunteer to be a subject since grants aren't awarded to participants?  Why is he so willing to jump into the paranormal research field at the expense of his own experiments, especially since he scoffed at the field up until a short time ago?  Why didn't Wilson include Richard's name on his proposal? And what the hell is Richard's actual field of study?    

Awkwardest of all colleagues
Doesn't every college have a major in Paranormal Studies?
Nothing unnerving about this look.
Cross? Candles? Why does this seem so evil?
Do they really need to shoot up his nose for research?
Well that isn't how this was supposed to end.

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