Parents (1989)

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”

That William Makepeace Thackeray quote right there, sums it up completely why I’m really not sold on the idea of motherhood.

I am a barely functioning human being, let alone a deity. To choose to create another life form, be responsible for its future happiness and well being, is a hell of a responsibility to contemplate … and yet, every day people do just that, spitting out babies like they’re chewing gum, and leaving them to grow into messed up versions of themselves, without any sign of caring about the consequences of every interaction they have with their children.

We all know that a very high percentage of them are not up to looking after a plant, and yet they’re in charge of the developments of young minds with no supervision, and Carte Blanche to raise their little munchkins anyway they see fit.

There are no qualifications to do this job, no psych evaluations, no criminal record check, and nature is holding all the cards on the age limit, so if they’re an early bloomer, they could be planting seeds all over the place and no one could do a thing to stop it.

That’s why you have to lead by example. Be moral and upright, steady, boring – a lot like good piece of furniture really, if the furniture started teaching people about safe sex, sharing your toys and growing up not to be a dick, that is.

I don’t know … maybe Ikea have something like that in stock?

The point is that parents are human, and to err is part of the deal. They repeat the mistakes of their own role models, and sometimes are not fit to do the job. Believe me, I have one such example of this in my own life. The sooner you accept that your parents are people, with dreams, nightmares, addictions, and their own personal bag of issues that they have to keep in check on a daily basis just like anyone else, the more you’ll be able to accept your own failings and maybe swerve the mistakes the old guys have already made for you.

You should respect your elders, sure, but only if they’ve earned it, because authority, in any form, should always be questioned, and tested, to make sure it holds up to the scrutiny in the cold light of day if nothing else …

Set in a fifties suburban utopia, where the women are dutiful wives and the men are misogynistic worker bees; Parents is the story of a little boy named Michael who begins to become suspicious of his Mother and Father and the secrets they keep from their only child. They eat a lot of suspicious looking meat, and Michael and his Dad have a disturbing relationship based on fear and a pretence, that is becoming increasingly hard to keep up for both of them.

This is without doubt one of the darkest and most uncomfortable films I’ve watched in a very long time. The juxtaposition of colourful Americana with the dark humour and gradual loss of innocence is astounding in it’s twisted beauty. Subversive and unbelievably kitsch, Parents is a bold and rare take on familial relationships, and the innocuous way real evil can exist alongside the rest of us by wearing masks of so called normality. Part coming of age drama, part horror/thriller, it’s exquisitely executed, witty as a John Waters piece, with the creepy terror of every childhood nightmare you ever had.

Randy Quaid is absolute perfection as ‘Dad’, and the script has some of the most chilling dialogue in it of any horror I’ve seen. The film provokes genuine dread, tension, and surprisingly, sentimentality, that never fails to impress me every time I watch it.

This is a classic, which for me is right up there with the best forgotten cult masterpieces, and ticks all the boxes for any self respecting gore hound out there. Retro, repulsive and really makes you consider vegetarianism as a life style choice, Parents is a lesson in good film making, and life in general.

Remember kids, we all grow up loving our parents, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to like them. Just ask Alec Baldwin’s kid.

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