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Shivers

Shivers film poster under an alternate title
Directed by David Cronenberg
Produced by Ivan Reitman
Written by David Cronenberg
Starring Paul Hampton
Barbara Steele
Lynn Lowry
Joe Silver
Ronald Mlodzik
Fred Doederlin
Allan Migicovsky
Music by Fred Mollin
Editing by Patrick Dodd
Distributed by Cinépix Film Properties Inc.
Release date(s) 1975
Running time 87 min.
Language English
Budget C$179,000 (est.)

Shivers (filmed as Orgy of the Blood Parasites; alternate titles: The Parasite Murders, They Came from Within, and Frissons for the French Canadian distribution) is a 1975 Canadian horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg. Cronenberg won "Best Director" at the 1975 Sitges Film Festival.

Contents

Plot

Dr. Emil Hobbes (Fred Doederlin) is conducting unorthodox experiments with parasites for use in transplants, however, he believes that humanity has become over-rational and lost contact with its flesh and its instincts, so the effects of the organism he actually develops is a combination aphrodisiac and venereal disease. Once implanted, it causes uncontrollable sexual desire in the host. Hobbes implants the parasites in his teen-aged mistress, who promiscuously spreads them throughout the ultra-modern apartment building, outside Montreal, where they live. The community's resident physician, Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton), and his assistant, Nurse Forsythe (Lynn Lowry) attempt to stop the parasite infestation before it overwhelms the city's population.

About the film

The film's chaotic structure mirrors the collapse of residential life in the apartment block. The opening shows a young couple being welcomed as residents to the tower block, intercut with Dr Hobbes murdering his adolescent mistress by strangling her, then cutting open her stomach and pouring acid into her body to kill the parasites, and then cutting his own throat. Partway into the story, the audience learn the reason for Hobbes's actions; most of Shivers consists of social set piece tableaux showing the sexual promiscuity that spreads the parasites to the other residents.

Director Cronenberg said he identified with the residents after they were infected; and shows the swinging sterility of "normal" life mercilessly caricatured through the characterisation of the bland, rich, young professionals inhabiting the apartment block, and the hard-sell estate agent's sales pitch from Merrick (Ronald Mlodzik), which accompanies the opening titles.

Shivers was Cronenberg's first feature film, and was the most profitable Canadian film made to date in 1975, but was so controversial that the Canadian parliament debated its social and artistic value and effect upon society, because of a conservative magazine movie reviewer's objection to its sexual and violent content.

Controversy

The Canadian journalist, conservative Robert Fulford attacked the content of Shivers in the pages of the national magazine Saturday Night. Since Cronenberg's film was partially financed by the taxpayer-funded National Film Board of Canada (or NFB), Fulford headlined the article "You Should Know How Bad This Movie Is, You Paid For It". Not only did this high profile attack make it more difficult for Cronenberg to obtain funding for his subsequent breakthrough movies,[1] but Cronenberg later said Fulford's attack on him also resulted in him being kicked out of his apartment in Toronto.[2]

Notes

  1. ^ The Film Reference Library
  2. ^ Le cinéma de David Cronenberg et la peinture de Francis Bacon - Regards croisés

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