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Parasyte: The Movie - Part 1 (2014)
Director: Takashi Yamazaki

review by Steven Hampton

Based upon a manga series created by Hitoshi Iwaaki, this delightfully weird comedy-horror is focused on the appealing sci-fi absurdity of a super-intelligent parasite that both Larry Cohen and Frank Hennenlotter would be proud of. While a horde of alien body-snatchers commit hideous murders, an overly talkative creature - that failed to reach its young victim's brain - invades a schoolboy's hand instead. Shinichi (Shota Sometani, Tokyo Tribe, Sadako 3D, Themis) co-exists with a cartoonish shape-shifter named Migi (or Miki) that occupies his right arm.

As a teacher and a policeman plot against Shinichi and his little buddy, this becomes a freaky variation of schizoid fantasy and a fable of alienated youth, especially when - after Shinichi's mother is possessed - his isolation from humanity becomes complete. "Killed by a human... I don't believe it." Grotesque body-horror effects contrast with psycho-dramas of handy hi-jinks in classroom and bathroom.

Unlike the pod-people of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, these hybrids infected with brain parasites are not all the same. They are distinguished and mentally troubled by their different moral attitudes and ethics of behaviour towards humankind, as we are obviously threatened by extinction as nations squander natural resources, and wreck the environment with poisons. One 'lad' (as Migi calls its own kind) is a paranoid and belligerent fascist, while another is a pacifist and curious about human motherhood. Shinichi and Migi reluctantly co-operate, shifting away from confusion and discovery to super-heroic action sequences as the crisis at school escalates from hostage siege to fatalistic duels.

Takashi Yamazaki, the maker of live-action epic Space Battleship Yamato (2010), and intriguing time-travel movie Returner (2002), has already proved that he can pass muster with some fascinating visuals, but Parastye is a big step up from those genre works. It has sympathetic characters, great performances, and entertainment values far beyond the norm for this type of genre work. Despite its outrageously silly premise of a kid turned hero who talks to his mutant hand, there is much here that's bound to win over many fans of David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, and Joe Dante.

Further to this live-action version, there's also the first dozen episodes of anime TV series Parasyte: The Maxim (on DVD, 2nd May), and Parasyte The Movie - Part 2 is due out on blu-ray, 6th June.

Parasyte the Movie part 1

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