When David Cronenberg’s first commercial feature film Shivers
(released in the U.S. as They Came From Within
) arrived on the scene in 1975, everyone expected a bloody, violent and sexual exploitive film. On that point, Cronenberg delivered. So much so that the film was vilified on the floor of the Canadian Parliament, Croneneberg was dubbed the new enfant terrible of the Canadian film industry, and he even ended up getting kicked out his apartment because of a morality clause in his lease.
What many people didn’t expect was the incredible force of Cronenberg’s imagination and the sly and sometimes sophisticated satire directed at the sterility of "normal" life for upwardly mobile drones of the middle class. “Who are the zombies?” Shivers asks. Are they the stiff and boring young professionals who squeeze themselves into identical boxes in the pursuit of “luxury living,” or are they the parasitic slug-infested denizens who give themselves over to carnal desires and chaos?
Cronenberg was still learning his craft, and Shivers
is far from the classics that he would later direct — films like Videodrome, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, A History of Violence
and Eastern Promises.
But it’s still a powerful and deeply disturbing film, while also being filled with dark humor. Don’t miss seeing it in the right atmosphere, this weekend — Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. — at the Cult Fiction Underground
at Logue’s Black Raven Emporium.