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Patrick Roddy takes a grisly stab at Sherlock Holmes with "The Parasite."

By Mari Wadsworth

MARCH 16, 1998:  A DARK TALE of the supernatural unfolds right here in the Old Pueblo in The Parasite, a flick soon to be released on the home video market.

Based on a story of the same title by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (of Sherlock Holmes fame), the Parasite tale was modernized and adapted by writer/producer Patrick Roddy, and filmed in 16 mm on the grounds of the Hacienda del Sol Resort on Tucson's north side. It sports a mostly local cast, starring David Gaffney, Julia Matias, Robert Gerard, David Akin and Marissa Hall.

This chilling portrayal of the ultimate co-dependent relationship pairs skeptical scientist Richard Austin (Gaffney) with the mysterious Helena Vohich (Matias), a powerful mesmerist who agrees to be the subject of Austin's experiments with the paranormal.

The tables are turned when Professor Austin becomes the object of his own experiment. Vohich slowly takes over his life, controlling his every move by telepathic suggestion, and manipulating everything he has created: career, love and identity.

Parasite's weakest link is Gaffney, who is entirely wooden in the leading role. But his laughable stage presence is offset by a respectable supporting cast, notably Akin as fellow psychic victim Charles Sadler, and the dry portrayal of eccentric professor John Wilson, by Robert Tamminga.

A haunting original score by Christopher Carter, who composes music for Warner Bros.' animated Batman and Superman series, and spine-tingling, digitally enhanced special effects by Matthew Copley, help polish Parasite's otherwise rough edges.

A psychological thriller with slasher-movie sensibilities, Parasite's gritty production values and amiable camp appeal may well confer some kind of cult-classic status with B-movie afficionados. Keep an eye out for its premiere screening in the coming months.


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