PARANORMAL ASYLUM or THE REVENGE OF TYPHOID MARY. (2013) DIRECTED BY NIMROD ZALMANOWITZ. WRITTEN BY FRED EDISON. STARRING AARON MATHIAS, NATHAN SPITERI, LAURA GILREATH AND GRACE EVANS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is by no means a perfect horror film. The script is needlessly confusing and has a half-finished feel to it, the acting is hammy and the dialogue clunky, and some of the scenes are downright unbelievable (half-naked Apron Meat Lady, I’m talking to you…!).
I still enjoyed it though. There was some gorgeous scenery on show, namely the abandoned castle on the island, and I especially enjoyed reading up on the background of the film’s sort of anti-heroine, Typhoid Mary.
Typhoid Mary, as the name suggests, was a real-life woman who was infamous for having infected up to fifty people with typhoid during her career as a cook during the latter years of the nineteenth century. She was born in Ireland (thanks a lot, Typhoid Mary, making us look bad in front of the bigger countries!) and emigrated to America when she was fifteen.
Poor old Mary Mallon, to give her her birth name, was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid, the first on official record. While maintaining perfect health herself, she unknowingly (well, I’m assuming she couldn’t have known, how could she?) infected pretty much every family she worked for as a cook. They would have died horribly too, with fever and diarrhoea. Typhoid is not a pretty disease.
When the authorities eventually figured out that Mary was the common denominator in all these infection cases, they tried isolating her and making her promise never to work as a cook again, where her poor hygiene practices (lack of hand-washing, etc.) would have contributed greatly to the spread of the disease.
Mary was finally incarcerated for life on North Brother Island, after it was discovered that she’d gone back on her word and had started working as a cook again. Keeping her quarantined was the only way the authorities could think of to keep the public safe from her.
She died on the island in 1938 after years of quarantine. Live typhoid bacteria were found in her gallbladder after her death. It was a tragic waste of Mary’s life and the lives she (knowingly or unknowingly) destroyed with the disease she carried.
Typhoid Mary passed into legend after her death and her name crops up a lot today in popular culture. For example, she’s a character in a MARVEL comic now. Good for you, Typhoid Mary, good for you.
Anyway, in the film PARANORMAL ASYLUM, two college friends called Mark and Andy want to make a documentary film about Typhoid Mary’s incarceration and death. This seems to involve running here and there frantically to different places and setting up a live computer feed from a darkened corridor somewhere.
Andy’s girlfriend Michelle is supposed to be ‘helping’ them, but during a séance she accidentally gets herself ‘possessed’ by the spirit of Typhoid Mary. Whoopsies…! Now she is doomed to wearing a slightly darker wig for all eternity and cooking meat after a lifetime of being a committed vegetarian. Oh dear. How, um, awful.
Mark, who’s quite cute with his longish hair, his douchebag stubble and his silver rings, forms a dangerous habit of not reporting to the authorities the deaths of the people who croak in his presence. The woman Evelyn, though I’m not quite sure why she’s there, looks genuinely terrifying in her spooky make-up. She’d make a good madwoman in a film about, well, a mad woman. Other than that, the film is a bit pants.
It introduced me to the real-life story of Mary Mallon, though, the woman who’s described rather cruelly, I feel, as being ‘tall, heavy and single.’ Remember when Lenny Leonard from THE SIMPSONS was attracted to the online profile of a woman called Mary who was allegedly ‘single, heavy and ready to settle for less…?’ ‘This Mary’s got the whole package!’ Lenny crows delightedly. She surely does, Lenny. She surely does…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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