2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cronenberg's grotesque first film
Every once in awhile I like to watch a David Cronenberg film. I have seen several at this point, from his earliest stuff like "Rabid" to his seminal reworking of "The Fly" starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. One thing you will always get from a Cronenberg film is a serious look at how technology and human beings interact. Like science fiction author J.G. Ballard,...
Published on Feb 10 2004 by Jeffrey Leach
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaky SHIVERS Serves a Slice of the Seventies, Suspense...
David Cronenberg, that crazy Canadian with a penchant for serving up icy-cold cross-sections of sexual obsession and a delirously deviant outlook on the claustrophobic world around him, has a surgeon's precision of taking the filmmaking medium and, like no one since Kubrick of the '60s and early '70s, turns moviemaking into a perfectly symmetrical, an almost...
Published on Nov 4 2000 by Clayton John Miller
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cronenberg's grotesque first film,
This review is from: Shivers (DVD)Every once in awhile I like to watch a David Cronenberg film. I have seen several at this point, from his earliest stuff like "Rabid" to his seminal reworking of "The Fly" starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. One thing you will always get from a Cronenberg film is a serious look at how technology and human beings interact. Like science fiction author J.G. Ballard, Cronenberg's films embrace a synthesis of man and machine that is exceedingly grim, an outlook usually complimented with generous helpings of gore. The overarching theme in his cinematic examinations seems to be that humans simply do not know enough about the technology they develop, or if they do, their arrogance in the ultimate abilities of mankind always leads them charging into experiments despite the risks. That we are just not far seeing enough to predict the outcome of using new drugs or messing around with human genetics may be a good message to take from a Cronenberg film. "Shivers" is Cronenberg's first major motion picture, and it is quite an auspicious beginning for the Canadian director. This film isn't great, not compared to some of Cronenberg's later magnum opuses, but it showed just enough promise to merit attention from Hollywood.
It's the wonderful 1970s in "Shivers," a time when fancy high-rise residences went up offering prospective tenants all the amenities. The Starliner, an apartment building situated on an isolated island somewhere in Canada, is one of these luxurious projects. The building offers everything for modern living--including a parasite that turns people into raving sex maniacs. Yep, you heard right. "Shivers" is about a bunch of poor souls undergoing painful invasions from nasty looking creatures that feed off their host in particularly vicious ways. The problem starts when a quack seeking funding for a radical new medical procedure experiments with the idea of replacing failed organs with an engineered parasite that will take over a particular organ's function. He introduces his repulsive creation into the body of a young girl living in the Starliner with the intention of monitoring how well his idea works, but things quickly go awry. It turns out that this young lady is quite popular with many of the male residents in the building, leading to the rapid spread of the parasite. At first nothing much happens to those people infected with the bug. There might be a fit or two of coughing, a general lethargy might set in, but after a few hours the psychoses set in. When it does, it is already much too late to stop the nightmare from spreading through the Starliner. Women, men, children--no one is immune from the horrific effects of this parasite.
The hero of "Shivers" is the physician at the Starliner, a man with little idea of the horrors he will soon combat as the parasite infects his patients. Aided by his loyal nurse (played by Lynn Lowry), the doctor soon finds himself hunted down by the insane residents as the late stages of the infection set in. The best plan of action is to get out of the building, which isn't as easy as it sounds since the Starliner purposely set out to provide an isolated atmosphere for its tenants. Throw in packs of ravenous loonies prowling the vast corridors of the building looking for fresh meat, and you can see the complications inherent in a run for freedom. The doctor must shoot and bludgeon to death several of his former patients just to stay alive for a few more minutes. As his panic grows, as his movements through the madhouse become increasingly erratic, he witnesses one nightmare after another. His nurse falls prey to the parasite, he sees children panting and crawling about like dogs, and he encounters a father and daughter in a mind-shattering situation. The conclusion to the film is what you would expect from a Cronenberg film--bleak, with little hope for a positive outcome.
You can tell "Shivers" is low budget fare, but Cronenberg uses what he has to great effect. The central idea of the film, that modern people seeking isolation from the larger population will fall flat on their faces, works because it doesn't require big budget set pieces. Heck, the director didn't even need big stars. Joe Silver, who did a turn in the director's next film appears here as a doctor on the outside who learns about the infection and pays a bloody price for his knowledge. Barbara Steele plays a small part as a single woman named Betts. The rest of the cast is unfamiliar but effective. Sure, some of the effects are slightly cheesy, the editing isn't all that great, but this movie stays with you. You can almost hear some Hollywood big shot saying to Cronenberg after watching the film, "Yeah, this part could have been better. Yeah, you should have done this instead of that. But kid, you got promise and we're going to keep an eye on you." Let's be thankful someone gave Cronenberg a chance to follow up on "Shivers."
I thought the DVD edition of the film was good. There's a twenty-one minute interview with Cronenberg where the director talks about his film experiences. I thought he came off as funny and self-effacing, explaining how he knew almost nothing about what a director did on a bigger budget film, how he had to help an actress prepare for crying scenes by slapping her face, and his experiences with Barbara Steele. His recollections concerning his panic over getting shots right should reassure beginning filmmakers that the only way to improve as a director is to dive right in. This interview serves as a sort of mini-commentary for the film and I appreciated its inclusion on the disc. Give "Shivers" a shot if you like horror movies.
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific re-release by Anchor Bay,
This review is from: Shivers (AKA They Came from Within) [Import] (VHS Tape)Yes, this is David Cronenberg's first film and it is great considering he's still in training while making it. He wrote it as well and it's a great, pulpy, horror film for late nights. Truly distrubing at times, but funny at others. Gruesome though. THE REASON TO GET THIS IS THE CRONENBERG INTERVIEW AFTER THE CREDITS. He talks about all of the pertinent stuff concerning the film that anyone would want to know and it also gives a face to the man in case you thought he might look and sound like a serial killer. He's a pretty normal looking, and sounding guy. Very educated as well.
5.0 out of 5 stars A CREEPY CRONENBERG CATASTROPHE-David's 1st Feature Film,
This review is from: Shivers (DVD)There is no doubt in my mind, by watching/reading many interviews with David Cronenberg & viewing everything that he has created thus far that David is a "very special boy". Cronenberg has the kind of imagination, lunacy, & repression to really create the kind of visuals in films that once you view them, you never forget. Cronenberg's 1st feature film, "Shivers", does just that. Filmed on a shoestring budget during 15 hectic days of production in Canada, this film tells the story of a doctor/madman that develops a parasite to live in human beings, take over their intelligence, morals (social & spiritual) & of course, their physical body, & transforms them into oversexed, libertine, bi-sexual cretin beings.
The film is set in and on an exclusive & elite island compound in Canada. The compound has everything one would ever need. A grocery, a drugstore, tennis courts, olympic sized swimming pool, doctor's & dentist offices, room service. The compound includes everything that your little heart desires, plus an extra surprise of parasites roaming in air vents, plumbing, & elevators that resemble a strange cross between a giant,slimy garden slug, a small phallic symbol and a smokey-link breakfast sausage.
This is definitely a catastrophic/end of the world type movie because as the film and the parasites progress to all the inhabitants of the island, there really is only one conclusion...
Of course, I won't give away the ending, but for anyone who enjoys films like Night Of The Living Dead, Outbreak, Dawn Of The Dead, 28 Days, or genre films that feature zombies/animals/mutants/disease taking over the entire world, you will enjoy this movie. Happy Watching!
5.0 out of 5 stars Tense, claustrophobic and paranoid,
This review is from: Shivers (DVD)Set around a country block of appartments which sits itself outside the city but with all the requirements of city life - life couldn't be much better. Well almost......
We are given this lovey dovey image of a picturesque block of appartments that really give off this relaxed vibe. But a 17 young girl is spreading a virus unbeknownst to it inhabitants. Immediately we see her being strangled to death by a doctor who then proceeds to cut her open and put highly caustic acids to kill whatever it is that is inside of her. So ashamed of this he then slits his throat.....
These sequences will set you up for the rest of the film. It seems almost eerie how the philosophy works and how deranged they can be at times. More and more people start complaining of this thing that's in their stomach. This leads one randy old man to remark " it feels kinda sexual " to the nurse ( played by the beautiful Lynn Lowry ).
It comes to the stage that there are those who have it outnumber those who haven't and it's more or less just a fight for survival
I won't say more as I feel I might have given too much away but I got this movie a few years back in a second hand shop since at the time anything with Cronenberg was an instantly bought on my part ( I still do the same now but I've got nearly everything ) and when I put this on I felt the same way those trying to survive do. Trapped! I could have turned the video off but I couldn't take my eyes away from it. It was gripping - almost hypnotic to watch. The film shook me so much that I had to watch it again 2 HOURS LATER after it was finished. That has never happened before to me and never since and it was still good when I watched it the second time.
I don't know what else to say about this film but just buy it and see what you think
PS While I'm here I suppose like many other Cronenberg fans would like to see his pre-Shivers experimental movies. Anything he does is worth a look at
5.0 out of 5 stars i just wanted to say...,
This review is from: Shivers (DVD)...that mr. albert wincoff`s review sucks!! listen, if you are gonna say that someone stole someone's idea, you should compare the dates first: "cities of the red night" was published in 1981, and "shivers" was released in 1976... i haven't seen this movie nor read the book by mr. burroughs, but reading that review in which a judgement is made without a solid argument really made me mad!!!! i didn`t wanted to put any stars up there, but as it is required to do so, i gave it 5 stars... just because i really like cronenberg's work and the plot of this film is great.
5.0 out of 5 stars They're in the mood for Love...,
This review is from: Shivers (DVD)Shot on a shoestring budget and in a whirlwind 15 days in Montreal, "Shivers" (also known as "They Came from Within") is Canadian horror visionary and all-around Creepy Guy David Cronenberg's astounding, jaw-dropping little gem about the end of the world, in which humanity doesn't go out with a Bang or a Whimper, but more of a Moan.
But let's get something out of the way right now: David Cronenberg is a genius and, for my money, one of the top 3 horror film directors *ever*. And while it's certainly useful to view "Shivers" as a preview of coming attractions---without a doubt, it's amazing what the young Cronenberg was able to pull off under severe budgetary, time, and talent limitations---the movie stands on its own as a ground-breaking little nugget of unflinching grue that burrows under your skin and truly disturbs.
Things break down quickly in "Shivers", which is about a medical experiment gone horribly wrong, and the terrible toll it takes on the residents of a luxury island apartment complex outside Montreal---and from there the world. The film's mad scientist (a nice turn by Fred Doederlein, who pops up again as the yoga master in "Scanners") wants to produce designer parasites that can be introduced into a body, devour a failing organ, and 'become' that organ, thus helping its host at the cost of a little blood.
But wouldn't ya know it, his first experiment Annabelle(a fetching Kathy Graham) refuses to play along with the Doc's good intentions, chiefly because the parasite has two complications: 1)within a few hours it turns its victim's mind to mush, and 2)it also has the unfortunate side-effect of making the subject a ravening sexual psychopath.
In the fim's shocking opening sequences, the Good Doctor brutally tries to abort his little extracurricular activity, but Annabelle has been a popular girl around the Starliner apartments, and faster than you can say "sick building syndrome" the little parasites, which look like a phallic combination of extra-large garden slug and Jimmy Dean sausage, are going a-roving through the apartment building in search of victims. And faster than the tenants can say "the check's in the mail", they've been converted into a legion of slug-infested serial rapists looking for love in all the wrong places.
It may very well have been that Cronenberg's limitations forced him to adopt a style that was so sterile, brutal, and overlit that the film couldn't help being brutal and startling: from an infected old woman groaning from behind her door to a startled delivery man "I'm hungry...for LOVE", to an avid slug crawling up an elderly lady's walker, to the horrible death of Dr. Lenski, to the wicked elevator infection scene, to the part where screen goddess Barbara Steele is infected by one of the nasty parasites *in her bathtub* (ewww!), Cronenberg keeps up the pressure and ratchets the horror level up so high you feel your brain will pop. You haven't seen ghoulishly creepy until you've watched Allan Colman pleading and talking with a nest of parasites that have been setting up shop in his stomach. Grisly stuff.
Technically this is an average DVD. It could very well be that the movie was shot in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio, in which case the full-screen format is appropriate, but the sound here is atrocious. The extras here, including a theatrical trailer and an illuminating, goofy interview with Cronenberg, are pretty spare, so let's hope someone gets around to releasing this creepshow with the quality treatment it deserves.
Yes, "Shivers" highlights a promising career---but for sheer skin-crawling nastiness, it has yet to be surpassed.
1.0 out of 5 stars Liberal interpretation of the hippocratic oath,
This review is from: Shivers (DVD)Mr Cronenberg a thief? Well, I thought he might have 'borrowed' some ideas from Pasolini's SALO, but it appears they were released around the same time. If anyone's been light with their fingers over this movie then it's George A Romero.
Reprehensible use of minors in this picture cannot make this anything other than a one star, but see it for Paul Hampton as doctor Roger St Luc. His performance rocks!
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Cronenberg shows lots of promise,
By A Customer
This review is from: Shivers (DVD)I had read a review of this movie and decided to buy it because it sounded very original. It is original and pretty disturbing to me, but it only marks the beginning of David Cronenberg's strange visions. In case you don't know what this is about, here it is in a sentence. A scientist created a parasite that would inhabit humans in order to replace missing organs, but it makes its recipients sex maniacs who can pass the parasite by way of kissing and having sex. There are other details, but I'll let you discover them when, or should I say if, you see it.
To call this movie strange isn't completely accurate because it definitely isn't as strange, or demented as his other work. In some ways he seems like he's going for a more conventional horror movie here rather than doing a scary social commentary like his other films. At the end of the widescreen VHS version of this movie, which I have, Cronenberg talks about how he was just starting to become a visual director during the making of this film and that should be obvious to anyone familiar with his work because there's less sophisticated frame composition in this movie. Quite simply put, this film has a documentary cinematography style except for some slow motion effects. If you put all of that aside it's still a good and scary vision even though it's also an obviously dated movie. I believed that the best moment was watching the infected little girl kiss the adult in the mouth in order to infect him. If you enjoy strange and dated horror, you'll probably like this.
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaky SHIVERS Serves a Slice of the Seventies, Suspense...,
This review is from: Shivers (DVD)SHIVERS
David Cronenberg, that crazy Canadian with a penchant for serving up icy-cold cross-sections of sexual obsession and a delirously deviant outlook on the claustrophobic world around him, has a surgeon's precision of taking the filmmaking medium and, like no one since Kubrick of the '60s and early '70s, turns moviemaking into a perfectly symmetrical, an almost clinical form of teaching us that the human race is flawed, and, for the most part, genuinely frightening.
SHIVERS was Cronenberg's first dive into the process of creating motion pictures and the flick made a big enough splash to secure his career as a major force in filmmaking. The movie goes by a myriad of titles: "They Came From Within," the aptly titled "The Parasite Murders," but for this DVD edition they stuck with SHIVERS, which I believe (don't quote me on this) is the title originally picked for American distribution. The film was written by Cronenberg, who had to fight to direct the picture himself. It was made under the close scrutiny of Ivan Reitman, fellow Canadian and a filmmaker in his own right, who crafted true film gems (Ghostbusters) and unholy messes (Junior). SHIVERS was made for zilch and stars the one and only love of my life... Barbara Steele.
The plot centers around a condo complex located on an isolated island inhabited by swinging seventies fashion and haircuts. It seems a mad scientist and renter has concocted a plan to use giant mutated parasites as replacements for organs in the human body, thus turning something that feeds off people into something that could sustain life for people.
Is this a good plan? Well, maybe on paper, but so was communism. Needless to say, the doctor finds out too late that the little varmints actually unlock the Id in folks, turning them into slaves of their own sexual passion and reckless violence. They work like VD, spreading thoughout the swinging patrons of the place, taking over the complex one person at a time. Yes, the parasites are an antidote to the freewheeling, free-loving disco era.
Is SHIVERS a great film? No, not really. It is a sturdy horror B-movie that makes the most of a meager budget and green cast of actors. The next film Cronenberg did, entitled RABIB (also available on DVD) is basically a rehash of the plot starring the one and only love of my life, Porn Star MARILYN CHAMBERS! RABID shares a similar theme with SHIVERS, a better budget, and a wiser director.
But, for all of you Cronenberg fans, this is a must.
The DVD format of this film is letterboxed and offers a better print than I have ever seen of the movie. It also contains a short-but-sweet interview segment with David Cronenberg, and has a trailer or two. THERE IS NO COMMENTARY though, which is a cardinal sin in my book.
So, if you want a decent scare, and believe me the fashion and haircuts WILL scare you if the slugs don't, check it out.
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't make you shiver, really ...,
This review is from: Shivers (DVD)Although being an admirer of this Canadian director (who I rank next to Ingmar Bergman as the most important of all movie directors), "Shivers", his commercial debut, is more interesting as an exercise of an upcoming talent. The Acting is TERRIBLE, and the mis-en-scene insecure, to say the least. Except for two or three overwhelming sequences (the murder/suicide opening scene, and the confrontation between Joe Silver and Paul Hampton), it's more interesting to see "Shivers" as a child of its time. The gore sequences are truly disgusting in the style of 70s horror cinema, although hardly as effective as contemporary films of George Romero and Tobe Hooper (whose careers declined later). (It's funny to remember Cronenberg's statement, that he sees no link to Romero's films - just compare "Shivers" with "Night of the Living Dead" and "Rabid" with "The Crazies" for once!) Some European director's left quite an impression on Cronenberg, too, especially Bunuel and Pasolini. This "underground feel" (improvised acting, raw directing, surreal violence in combination) makes "Shivers" look pathetic - as it doesn't quite work - and dated, but one should be forgiving, I suppose, regarding the 15 days of actual filming. Still, there is a profound seriousness behind the images, which finally made it to the screen successfully with "The Brood" (4 years later), Cronenberg's first true masterpiece, and still my favourite of his efforts to this day.
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Shivers by David Cronenberg (DVD - 2002)