Parents (1989)
October 22, 2022 7:56 AM - Subscribe

Michael (Bryan Madorsky) is a young boy living in a typical 1950s suburbanite home... except for his bizarre and horrific nightmares, and continued unease around his parents (Randy Quaid, Mary Beth Hurt). Young Michael begins to suspect his parents are cooking more than just hamburgers on the grill outside.

Directed by Bob Balaban. Written by Christopher Hawthorne.

53% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Tubi. Also available for digital rental on multiple outlets. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The ambiguity of this blunts the effect somewhat, but it's still a lost classic and a weird ride.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:05 AM on October 22, 2022

I remember watching this many years ago and being properly horrified, and not really at the obvious bits. ("Well, maybe I don't like you either, sport." Too real.) It's probably Randy Quaid's best performance.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:29 AM on October 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

After watching this movie, you'll never look at leftovers the same way again.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 11:13 AM on October 22, 2022

I suspect it would hit a little differently if you were seeing it for the first time in 2022, but 33 years ago I can assure you there were not a lot of films like this coming to your local multiplex (there were horror movies, to be sure, and there were comedies, and even comedic horror, but this film did not come out of the usual 80s mold.)
posted by Nerd of the North at 5:19 PM on October 22, 2022

This is one of my favorite horror movies of its era, and a true sleeper. I will forever associate Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White with this movie, and it's got some great lines. "What was this before it was leftovers?" "It was dinner, honey!" "There's one dark place that we have to be very careful in. Do you know where that is?" (Randy Quaid, in close-up, points to his own his forehead.) The scene where our protagonist sneaks a look at his parents in flagrante delicto and they're covered in human blood seems like it came straight out of a dream someone is telling their therapist.

The other movie in my "excellent sleeper 90's horror movies" list is 1990's The Reflecting Skin, which you should watch, DirtyOldTown, since your evident plan is to watch all the movies (I say this with affection). I partially associate them because they are both narrated from children's points of view, but they are also both penned by writers who fell into relative obscurity afterwards, and they both have some themes about characters doing nefarious work for the government that lends each a little frisson of political commentary.
posted by whir at 9:30 PM on October 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

I will forever associate Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White with this movie

I fixated on that song for a long time after I saw this movie. It plays over the end credits, and It always sounded to me, acoustics-wise, like an orchestra playing to a completely empty auditorium. Playing for the dead. That stuck with me for quite a while.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:00 AM on October 23, 2022

I somehow convinced my parents to rent this when I was. ..14? 15? Maybe even a little younger, just long enough after it came out that it wasn't in the new releases section anymore, and when I was juuust old enough that they were willing to let me try seeing a rated R movie as long as they were there.

I'd have enjoyed it a lot more if they hadn't watched with me, because they were INTENSELY uncomfortable. Still, this is the movie that taught me that I really enjoy humor and gore and horror movies in general.
posted by solotoro at 4:20 PM on October 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

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