MOVIE REVIEWS

They Came from Within (Shivers)

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7/10 NR 01 hr 30 min

October 10, 1975

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By John Chard August 25, 2017

Disease is the love of two creatures for one and other.

Shivers is written and directed by David Cronenberg. It stars Fred Doederlin, Paul Hampton, Lynn Lowry and Barbara Steele. Music is by Ivan Reitman and cinematography by Robert Saad.

Montreal's Starliner Island Complex suddenly becomes home to parasitic organisms that upon entering a human host, turns them into flesh-eating sexual predators.

Cronenberg's first commercial feature film has become a little too over analysed over the years due to the Canadian auteur's subsequent career. Meanings and motives within Shivers have been searched and scrutinised so as to give it more resonance. It really isn't worthy of that sort of cranial thinking, but what Shivers is is a fun low-budget horror film, a movie that has dashes of Cronenberg magic that shows he started as he meant to go on.

With its chaotic observation of mundane everyday people suddenly turned into sexually charged beings now devoid of inhibitions, it's not hard to see why it caused some controversy upon release. Yet that sort of controversy is gold publicity really, and ultimately when you look at it now, it's played out as being more tongue in cheek than any design to shock the audience out of their seats. That's not to say there isn't horror here of course, one only has to see the brilliant opening to know this, but there is an intentional airiness about the piece, and yes! This is even as the director pushes buttons by pushing taboo subjects into our visual event.

The acting is generally poor, the sound mix is off and some of the dialogue is awfully cheesy, but Shivers still comes out in considerable credit. It's an important movie in the pantheon of horror because of its director, while it's enjoyable to tick off some of the traits that would dominate his work from this point on. It also makes you evaluate the state of horror as a genre today, with the ream of sequels, remakes and unsurprising slashers dominating the box offices, now more than ever we could do with a young up and coming Cronenberg type to announce himself to our cinematic world. We can but hope. 7.5/10

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