David Cronenberg is one of those directors that really seems to polarize viewers His early work can be especially disturbing to folks, especially something like Videodrome. But I really do like what I’ve seen from him. He’s one of those directors who plays with particular themes, has a specific style and tone. So I was interested in seeing his first feature length film and get an idea of how it all started.
The film begins with an advertisement a grand new block of luxury apartments with everything a tenant needs right inside the building. Since these apartments are on an island, it is an added convenience for the residents to never have to travel to the mainland for anything. There is even a clinic on hand to help with any issues you may have. Dr. Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton) is running into a few problems today. He’s seen several patients with strange growths in their abdomens.
But when his mentor Dr. Hobbes (Fred Doederlein) is found dead over the mutilated corpse of a young woman he becomes really disturbed. Some digging reveals that Hobbes and his colleague Linsky (Joe Silver) were working with parasites as an alternative to organ transplant. Hobbes decided to experiment on human… and it all went downhill from there. St. Luc becomes convinced that the parasites are multiplying in the apartments and warping the minds of the residents. Does he have any hope of stopping the infection, or will he fall prey to it? Horror favorite Barbara Steele is on hands to add to the Shivers.
- Creates a disturbing concept and runs with it.
- Has some excellent moments of dread and unease
- Takes straight aim at the free love concept
- Never quite feels as claustrophobic as it wants to be
- A few moments are more funny than scary
- Feels a bit exploitative and trashy at times
Cronenberg’s main concept and themes are ready and raring to go in this film. The concepts of parasites spreading among the population of the apartment building, is creepy enough. But to have them spread like some venereal disease and increase the libido of the host makes it even more disturbing. There’s plenty of gross out moments in the film. But there are a few limitations because of the budget. The setting doesn’t feel as closed off as it could, and sometimes the parasite attacks looks silly. But overall there is enough here to get under your skin and see that Cronenberg was a talent to be watched, even in a movie as exploitative as this one.
Scores (out of 5)
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