Sunday, October 07, 2012


Written and directed by David Cronenberg, Shivers is the story of a doctor discovering about strange experiments involving flesh and parasites that turn people into sexually-crazed zombies. There, he tries to save those who aren’t harmed as the epidemic starts to rise at a medical clinic in an island near Montreal. Starring Paul Hampton, Barbara Steele, Lynn Lowry, Joe Silver, Ronald Mlodzik, and Fred Doederlein. Shivers is disgusting, repulsive, and sick film from David Cronenberg that is truly a whole lot of fun to watch.

The film is essentially the story about this doctor named Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton) who works at a medical clinic with Nurse Forsythe (Lynn Lowry) as he gets a call about the murder-suicide of a colleague Dr. Hobbes (Fred Doederlein) and a young woman. When he asks his friend Rollo Linsky (Joe Silver) to examine Hobbes’ report, a discovery is made about Hobbes’ desire to inject parasites in the human body as a way to reconnect humanity with flesh. Unfortunately, it would cause problems as people infected by the parasite would have an uncontrollable sexual drive that would make them into horny zombies. When St. Luc finds out what is going on as he sees people in his building become horny zombies as he has try to save those who aren’t infected as it would lead to all sorts of trouble.

David Cronenberg’s screenplay doesn’t have a traditional structure though it does involve a lot of stories with characters who would interact with each other in this apartment. The film’s first half does feature a few storylines that includes a couple with marital problems where the husband deals with parasites in his body as his wife is unaware as she’s hanging out with a friend. This would get inter-cut with smaller storylines as characters would get picked off one-by-one in the schematics of traditional horror. The film’s second half focuses on St. Luc and Forsythe trying to help people who could be infected only for them to be overwhelmed as they try to survive the onslaught of zombies that are coming after them.

Cronenberg’s direction is definitely stylish in terms of creating an element of suspense and horror while infusing it with lots of dark humor and other crazy moments. Since the film is shot on location in a residential building, there is something that feels offbeat as everyone seems normal until all of the blood and gore involving strange creatures start to come in. The film does become a full on thriller where Cronenberg uses lots of hand-held cameras for scenes where characters run in the building or strange shots where he creates an element of suspense. It’s as if Cronenberg is willing to see how far he can go as there’s a lot of sex in display where he does establish shots where it does play into transformations and other chilling moments. Overall, Cronenberg crafts a very smart and captivating horror film that isn’t afraid to be repulsive while taking risks by tackling all sorts of taboos that will make anyone uncomfortable.

Cinematographer Robert Saad does excellent work with the film‘s photography from the brooding look of the parking lot scenes to the more brighter look of many of the film‘s interior hallway scenes. Editor Patrick Dodd does terrific work with the editing to create suspenseful cuts including some stylish slow-motion cuts to help maintain that air of suspense. Art director Erla Gliserman does nice work with the set pieces from the look of the clinic to the home apartment of the couple and the wife‘s friend.

Special effects makeup and creature effects work by Joe Blasco does incredible work with the design of the creatures as well as the special effects for parasites to come out of people‘s mouths. Sound recorder Michael Higgs does wonderful work with the sound to help create an atmosphere for the film‘s chilling moments. Compiling the film’s music is its producer Ivan Reitman as he creates a soundtrack filled with eerie music cuts to play up the sense of chills and terror that unfolds throughout the film.

The film’s brilliant ensemble cast includes some notable performances from Ronald Mlodzik as the residence manager Merrick, Allan Kolman as the troubled Nicholas Tudor, Susan Petrie as his concerned wife Janine, Fred Doederlein as the troubled doctor Emile Hobbes, and Barbara Steele as Janine’s very sexy friend Betts. Joe Silver is terrific as St. Luc’s friend Rollo Linsky who tries to uncover Hobbes’ work as he makes a terrifying discovery. Lynn Lowry is wonderful as Nurse Forsythe who tries to woo St. Luc as she later helps him try to evade the zombies. Finally, there’s Paul Hampton in an excellent performance as Dr. Roger St. Luc as he tries to discover what is going on in the building he works at as he tries to stop the epidemic of zombies from happening.

Shivers is a fantastic and entertaining horror film from David Cronenberg. Thanks to a superb cast and gnarly special effects, it’s a film that definitely bears all of the hallmarks that makes horror fun to watch and more. For fans of Cronenberg, the film definitely marks as an early triumph for the filmmaking that would set the stage for some of the weird things he would do in future films. In the end, Shivers is an awesomely fucked-up film from David Cronenberg.

David Cronenberg Films: Stereo - Crimes of the Future - Rabid - Fast Company - The Brood - Scanners - Videodrome - The Dead Zone - The Fly (1986 film) - Dead Ringers - Naked Lunch - M. Butterfly - Crash - eXistenZ - Spider - A History of Violence - Eastern Promises - A Dangerous Method - Cosmopolis - Maps to the Stars - Crimes of the Future (2022 film)

The Auteurs #26: David Cronenberg Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2012


Chris said...

I agree, Shivers is entertaining, was better than I expected. Low-budget so the audio isn't great, and characterization is at a minimum. Makes up for it with suspense, and those worms...shivers indeed!!!!!!
Horrifying side effects of health care industry is also a theme in Cronenberg's Scanners (1981)

thevoid99 said...

I was surprised by the film. It fucked me up. That's what I want in a horror film and Cronenberg delivers.