Firsties!

Welcome to our film blog. Myself and our contributors will hopefully bring you reviews and wahtevs regarding cinema. Enjoy!

Shivers is David Cronenberg’s first film, released in 1975 and though I’ve been a big fan of his for a number of years I only just saw it tonight (owing to the fact that it’s no longer available on VHS or DVD and I had to download a torrent of it.)

This film plays like a strange subversive allegory masquerading as a sort of midnight movie. It’s about an island community near Montreal where experiments concerning a parasite, genetically designed to spread free love around the world, go horribly wrong. There’s lots of gore (maybe not his goriest but certainly pretty over the top) and lots of gratuitious nudity. The acting is laughably bad and the decor of the homes it is set in reminds me of childhood – specifically the fuzzy toilet seat cover. Why doesn’t anybody have those anymore?! One character seemed to be cast simply because he could so nauseatingly mimic vomiting and retch and gag in the most vile way imaginable. I made the mistake of seeing this film on a night that I was having acid reflux and it certainly did not help. The film was quite funny at times as well, especially the one scene that any horror movie fan could see coming: a woman gets in the bath and the parasite that looks half like a phallus, half like a poo comes up through the drain and…well, you know what happens then. This scene was later ripped off in Jack Frost (not the Michael Keaton one!). By the end it becomes clear that this is it’s own sort of zombie movie.

I also realized at the end that this is a film that eerily sort of foreshadows AIDS – perhaps it’s even a better AIDS allegory than Cronenberg’s later, and best, film – his remake of The Fly.. It’s clearly an expression of the danger and a fear of free love. The parasite is initially passed through non-monogamous sexual partners and causes the host to become this sex crazed monster. The final scene comes off as both erotic and terrifying, if not in equal measures.

And as anyone familiar with Cronenberg’s later work, this film really laid the groundwork for many of the themes he deals with in later pictures: disease, sex and a general focus on the viscera of the human body. One of the quotes from this film pretty neatly sums up much of the themes of Cronenberg’s body of work:

Disease is the love of two alien kinds of creatures for each other, that even dying is an act of eroticism.

I’d recommend this to horror fans and definitely Cronenberg fans – see where the master came from. Just beware, don’t watch this while eating – it’s quite stomach churning. Ugh!

PS – Just discovered that a working title for this film was “Orgy of the Blood Parasites.” Far too hyperbolic for a film of this caliber I think.

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