I’ve always harboured a sneaking liking for the films of William Malone. His remake of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999) was far better than many reviews gave it credit for, even if the ending did rather end up drowning in excessive special effects. His 1985 feature TITAN FIND was an ALIEN ripoff that showed imagination on a low budget, and an ability to keep Klaus Kinski under control, and FEARDOTCOM (2002) was an interesting if perhaps overly ambitious horror film that tried to squeeze a bit too much into its running time to allow coherency.
PARASOMNIA is the tale of Danny (Dylan Purcell) who, while visiting his friend Billy in a psychiatric rehabilitation unit happens across the room of Laura, a young woman with parasomnia, which means she spends most of her life asleep, waking only momentarily before once again becoming unconscious. In one of those situations that only occur in horror movie hospitals, just down the corridor from her is convicted psychopathic killer, bookshop proprietor and evil mesmerist Byron Volpe (Patrick Kilpatrick) suspended from the ceiling and kept in isolation for however many hundreds of murders it’s claimed he’s done. Danny learns that a group of scientists want to experiment with Laura so he kidnaps her from the clinic. This angers Volpe who wants her for himself. Volpe escapes, killing what seems like everyone in the hospital, grabs Laura, and sets the scene for a very unusual showdown indeed.
Like Malone’s other pictures, PARASOMNIA is far from perfect, but there’s plenty here to enjoy, be intrigued by, and to raise your eyebrows at as well. In fact it’s a long time (and perhaps never) since I’ve seen a mainstream film that manages to include nods to so many outre sexual practices. During the course of PARASOMNIA’s opening hour, Laura is the subject of bondage, pet play, and she dresses up in a cheerleader costume for Danny, not to mention the fact that her almost constantly soporific state necessitates her having to be washed and fed by him as well. Quite a few pretty girls end up on their knees as a result of Volpe’s mesmerism, and a couple end up blindfolded as well. After this, a climax involving a steampunk version of Holst’s Jupiter suite played by clockwork instruments and a couple of gorgeous girls in Victorian dress in the villain’s lair, while Jeffrey Combs’ police detective plays Russian roulette in a corner, and a helpless Danny looks on as Laura reclines in a coffin covered in peacock feathers is as unexpected as it is delightful.
PARASOMNIA is deliciously kinky, wonderfully quirky, and fully deserving of the attention of any horror fan who fancies something off the straight and narrow. It deserves to be better known, and I hope William Malone gets the chance to make some more eclectic, eccentric and elegant pictures like this one.