mon 15/07/2024

DVD: Shivers | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Shivers

DVD: Shivers

David Cronenberg's first full-length feature still disturbs

As Nicholas Tudor in 'Shivers', Allan Kolman reveals his inner self

“Are you going to be to Canada what Ingmar Bergman is to Sweden?” “Oh, I think so.” David Cronenberg’s response to a TV interviewer at the time of Shivers’ release must have seemed like unwarranted boastfulness in 1975, but he did indeed become one of cinema’s most significant filmmakers and remains such. After his first full-length feature had hit screens, Cronenberg’s chutzpah was enviable.

Originally conceived as the schlokily-titled Orgy of the Blood Parasites to attract as much attention as possible, Shivers became a box-office (but not instant critical) success. It was followed by Rabid and set Cronenberg on the path which would take him through Scanners and Videodrome and beyond body horror to films which transcended genre.

Seen now, this is undoubtedly exploitation cinema – there’s gore, lesbian and incestuous scenes and a penile monster springing from within the body which memorably surfaces between the legs of a bathing Barbara Steele. Shivers is also an obvious critique of aspirational modern living and what might befall those who embrace it. Set it a swanky apartment block on a Montréal island, it depicts residents who need go nowhere else. The complex sports a laundry, a restaurant, shops and even a doctor’s surgery. Sex hangs in the air of its corridors. What the residents don’t know is that one willing partner has had a parasite implanted in her by a doctor. It increases sex drive, multiplies, spreads and is seemingly unstoppable. At the film's close, the afflicted take to the world beyond the apartment block. Nobody is safe from the malady stalking the hermetic apartment block. The tone is aloof. Overall, a sense of detachment haunts the film.

More than an essential horror film and beyond being integral to Cronenberg's canon, Shivers is also central to cinema’s contemporary sociological scrutiny of the 1970s. The extras in this release underline this with the original trailer, two new appreciations of the film, one featuring cast and crew, as well as a fine Canadian TV documentary which includes the clip of Cronenberg being asked about Bergman. What might he say now?

'Shivers' is central to cinema’s contemporary sociological scrutiny of the 1970s

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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