Shivers (1975)

Movie Title: Shivers

Year Released: 1975

Rated: Not Rated

Runtime: 1h 27min

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi

Director: David Cronenberg

Writer: David Cronenberg

Starring: Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, Allan Kolman, Susan Petrie, Barbara Steele, Ronald Mlodzik, Barry Baldaro, Camil Ducharme, Hanna Poznanska, Wally Martin, Vlasta Vrana, Silvie Debois

Review: When the residents of a luxury apartment complex are infected by a bizarre strain of parasite they become zombified sex-fiends bent of infecting anyone and everyone. It's up to Doctor Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton) and Nurse Forsythe (Lynn Lowry) to keep the infection contained to save Canada, and probably the world, from experiencing the... Shivers!

David Cronenberg's first feature film is creepy, gross, and downright disturbing. Shivers sets the tone for Cronenberg's future career making movies like The Fly (1986). His "body horror" sub genre begins here with creepy-crawlies and spooky suggestions of what these vile violators are capable of doing.

What I noticed during my viewing was how the characters are rather bland, but it's purpose is to help ground the rather bizarre and grotesque situation; and it works quite well. Also, Cronenberg's editor Patrick Dodd tends to cut away in the middle of scenes which is either to let the audience know that many little plots and characters are doing things simultaneously or it's just to keep the tensing high as the audience fearfully asks themselves, "What's going to happened next?" Even the dialogue and acting seems gives the residence of Starliner Island a ordinary vibe that is juxtaposed when folks get infected. Quite clever if purposeful or maybe a happy accident, but it works so well!

Shivers definitely has a low budgeted, almost documentary, look and feel, but that actually gives this unsettling story more realism. The more the film goes on the more odd, depraved, and off-putting it becomes, which may turn some viewers off, but it's fascinating just how far Cronenberg pushes this seemingly tawdry tale. Unlike today's horror fare, Shivers doesn't hold back on it's gore, scares, or chilling results of how an event such as this would play out.

So if you're a fan of claustrophobic chillers, Cronenberg-ian body horror, Canuxploitation, and bad '70s style and home furnishings, then Shivers is what you want... and it's what you'll get!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: This was David Cronenberg's first feature film. It became the most profitable Canadian film ever made at the time. It was also so controversial that Canada's Parliament debated its social and artistic value and effect upon society.


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