365horror

Shivers

by on Sep.17, 2010, under Daily Review

Cronenberg has always been one of my favourite directors. I’ve been watching his films since I was 14 and they’ve always captivated me, but as time passes by, I grow wary to revisit some films as they might just disappoint. Was it a time and place which makes a film special and how will they stand up against today’s standards? Has Cronenberg got better with age? After this week, I’m so glad I’ve included a few of his early films in the project as they are perfect beyond belief and I actually think they have had more of an impact on the older version of myself, rather than the innocent teen all those years ago.

Shivers is set in a super modern, state of the art apartment block on a luxury island. As you can expect, the complex has everything from swimming pools to it’s own hospital. It’s this hospital in which scientists are working on experimental procedures. A parasite which can eat and replace a damaged organ, but one scientist has other ideas working on a parasite which will induce a sexual lust sending its host into a frenzy. When his work goes wrong, he attempts to destroy his experiment within his teen girlfriend. It’s not long before the whole apartment are crazy with lust.

This in effect is a zombie film, but once again, Cronenberg focus’ on the human emotion and desires with connotations of social needs and changing climate. Every taboo is touched upon here. From the opening scene, with an old scientist strangling a teenage girl, a brutal scene without music brings the horror and reality to the viewer. Later, a father kisses his daughter with passion, (I just know you’ll like my daughter, Erica!) old and young are crazy fiends, but it’s not a clear cut film. Some characters embrace the change, waiting and watching as their body morphs, notably Allan Kolman as Nicholas (A character later mirrored as Set Brundle by Jeff Goldblum in the Fly). Other characters, Nurse Forsythe (Lynn Lowry) show desire before the outbreak, suggesting a possible early infection, although this is not the case, she just craves the attention of her Doctor, who attempts to keep things professional.

Another shocking point to make is Cronenberg’s repeated signature of involving children as viewers to extreme violence, a trait which I’ve noticed in many of his films. I’m not sure if the children had prior knowledge to what was about to happen before the camera’s role, but he captures a pretty shocking expression every time.

The cast are perfect here too, clinical and dry, solemn and in control as Cronenberg always likes them. His direction is superb, no-one captures emotion at such a stripped down level like Cronenberg. Lynn Lowry, Barbara Steele, Paul Hampton and the brilliant Wally Martin.

Finally, the climax of the movie is such a success. The swimming pool scene is one of the most memorable I’ve ever known. Shot as what should be a bleak ending, this actually celebrates and embraces the infection which has taken over. A love affair of desire and wanting which works as much as a happy ending rather than the expected. The chemistry between Lowry and Hampton is electric and when they kiss, it wrap’s the film to perfection. I must also mention one final note regarding a speech which Lowry makes a little earlier on in the film, she tells Hampton of a dream. This speech is one of the finest moments in any film I’ve ever seen. It’s as memorable as the Long Live the New Flesh one from Videodrome, yet not nearly as recognised.

‘I had a very disturbing dream last night. In this dream I found myself making love to a strange man. Only I’m having trouble you see, because he’s old and dying and he smells bad, and I find him repulsive. But then he tells me that everything is erotic, that everything is sexual. You know what I mean? He tells me that even old flesh is erotic flesh. That disease is the love of two alien kinds of creatures for each other. That even dying is an act of eroticism. That talking is sexual. That breathing is sexual. That even to physically exist is sexual. And I believe him, and we make love beautifully.’

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2 Comments for this entry

  • lynn lowry

    Hi Geoff,
    I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed your take on Shivers and The Crazies. I’ve never heard anyone say that I might be infected before the swimming pool scene and the swimming pool scene is my all time favorite too. So that was very clever. I hope you make the 365 goal. That’s pretty cool and you write “beautifully”.

    Hugs from California
    Nurse Forsythe

  • Geoff

    Thanks for dropping by Lynn, it’s an absolute honour to have you here. Your performance in the film was perfect, it’s been one of the highlights of the project so far. Thanks ever so much for the very kind words.
    Geoff
    xx

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