Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Shivers (1975)

While this may not be the first feature film from writer-director David Cronenberg, it's very much the film that put him on the map as a major talent in the field of horror. Not everyone was impressed with Shivers when it was released, there was some famous outrage from one or two noted critics of the time, and it's easy to see what some found so offensive about it. But it's also easy to see just how assured Cronenberg always is when it comes to mixing the cerebral with the visceral.

The basic plot concerns an invasion/infection of parasites in an apartment block that turns the residents into unabashed, lusty, animalistic beings. This doesn't sit well with anyone uninfected, but it's far from the worst thing that a parasite can do to you, which allows it to spread quite quickly, as more and more people are seduced by those acting under the spell of the parasite. One man (Roger St. Luc, played by Paul Hampton) discovers the full reality of the situation, and tries his best to save the residents before it's too late.

With a heady mix of sex, death, and body horror, this is classic Cronenberg, in terms of the ideas being explored. While not as polished and intriguing as the many movies he would go on to helm, it's a fascinating premise, mainly thanks to the fact that the people infected in the movie seem to go on to have quite a good time of things. I mean . . . . . . . . it's a parasite that basically boosts your sex life, if you find enough other carriers.

Hampton isn't too bad in the lead role, but Cronenberg always seemed to be more concerned with his ideas than the actual acting in a number of his early movies. Allan Kolman and Susan Petrie are both pretty good as a husband and wife, with the former showing the transformative effect of the parasite while the latter worries about just how best to help her ill partner. Joe Silver is another level head amongst the madness, and Barbara Steele has a small, but memorable, role that should please her fans. But it's Lynn Lowry who makes the biggest impression, with this being one of a few movies from this era that really allowed her to shine in the horror genre. She plays a nurse here, helping Hampton to try and gain control of the situation, and she's allowed to take turns at playing cute, strong, scared, and sexy.

Not the best parasite movie. Not the best Cronenberg movie. Not the best horror set in an apartment block. But Shivers remains a unique, and creepy, experience, perhaps due to the fact that Cronenberg identifies more closely with the infected than anyone else onscreen. Well worth adding to your viewing schedule and your collection.


Get this Arrow release (Region B only) ASAP - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shivers-Dual-Format-DVD-Blu-ray/dp/B00KHSM936/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1412886620&sr=1-1&keywords=shivers


  1. Never seen this one, despite my love of Cronenberg. It's on Netflix Streaming so this is the perfect time to finally sit down and watch it.

    1. For some reason, the Netflix version (AND Arrow release) has a few seconds missing. This is an upgrade that has been overseen by both TIFF and David Cronenberg so I am waiting to hear the reasons for the missing seconds, although I didn't notice them myself, as it's been years since I last saw the film.