Shivers (1975)
AKA They Came From Within, The Parasite Murders, Orgy of the Blood Parasites

Starring Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, Allan Kolman, Susan Petrie, Barbara Steele, Ronald Mlodzik, Barry Baldaro

Directed by David Cronenberg

Expectations: I’ve been lukewarm on most of the Cronenberg I’ve seen, but I’m actually really pumped for this.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Ah man, this one could have been great, but then Cronenberg had to ruin everything he had built up to go the “sex-crazed zombies” route. It’s by design, and I can understand why it is the way it is, but it was just too much for me to handle and I didn’t find the genre thrills compelling enough to override this feeling. The first half of the film is remarkably unsettling, though, creepy and over-the-top just enough, but as soon as it turns that corner, it leaves virtually all story behind in a wake of horny zombies jumping the bones of any non-infected person that happens by. But if that’s your thing, then this movie delivers so fully that you’ll be satisfied for days after.

The film opens with a wonderful slide-based commercial, detailing the features that Starliner Island boasts. The ad naturally leads us into the first scene of the film where a couple is being welcomed as new residents of the building. You might be tempted to think that these would be our main characters, but instead the more important couple comes in the scene that’s crosscut against this ho-hum apartment orientation. In that scene, a girl in a school uniform is attacked by an old man. He subdues her, slices open her stomach with a surgical scalpel, and then after digging around for a while, pours a shitload of acid into her body cavity. Oh, and then he slices his own throat with the scalpel. If there was any doubt that this was: A. a horror film, or B. a trashy horror film, then both were immediately dispelled. Cronenberg’s first commercial feature is full of life, death and more body horror than the Canadian government (who partly funded the film) could handle. It’s nothing compared to today’s depraved films, but for the time it’s definitely treading the line of bad taste.

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