Worshipping at the Altar of Cronenberg

David Cronenberg is one of the Dungeon’s favorite Horror Film directors. This fellow Canadian was born in my hometown of Toronto Ontario and boasts a most impressive resume. Since 2000, he has been swaying from the genre into new territory which I think is very sad news indeed. Now that he is getting Oscar Nominations for hispromotional-poster-for-rabid work I wonder if he will ever revisit horror. I really want to hate his non-horror entries but I just can’t. I cannot deny the brilliance of Spider, Naked Lunch or Eastern Promises. But because we are all about the horror we are only going to look at those titles. I would be the first to say that Hollywood star power does not a good horror film make. Cronenberg proves that wrong again and again. The memorable performances given in many of his films elevate them to a completely different level. It is the performance you remember, not the actions. A rare and beautiful thing. Who could forget Jeremy Irons disturbing performance as gynecologist twin brothers Beverly and Elliot Mantle in Dead Ringers? Or Christopher Walken’s wrought and sympathetic performance as Johnny Smith in the Dead Zone? Always edgy, and often weird we love that Cronenberg never backs down from graphic and grisly visuals even in his more commercial endeavors. In addition to directing he also wrote the screenplay to all of his horror entries and was the producer on Dead Ringers and Existenz. He had a cameo in his own films The Fly and Dead Ringers and had featured roles in Clive Barker’s Night Breed playing Dr Philip K. Decker and in Jason X as Dr. Wimmer. I have enjoyed every single Cronenberg horror film I have seen in varying degrees from like to love. I cannot say that about a single other horror film director. Below are the Dungeon reviews for each Cronenberg title. Come back to the dark side David!! We need you here!

eXistenZ (1999)

Jennifer Jason Leigh is a virtual reality game designer who gets trapped in her own game. What results is a mind-bending trip with surreal visuals and tight performances. A wonderfully weird and original film.

Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe, Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie and Sarah Polley

Dead Ringers

Jeremy Irons plays gynecologist twin brothers descending into madness with disturbing perfection. Unsettling images that will stay with you for days after. Gynecological tools that would give any woman nightmares. Absolutely brilliant and one of our all time favorites.

Starring: Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas and Stephen Lack

The Fly (1986)

A remake of the 1958 classic with the camp cut out. The chemistry between Goldblum and Davis helps along the emotional tension. Watching the Brundle characters transformation is a visual, grotesquely grand treat. One of the best horror remakes out there.

Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, Leslie Carlson and George Chuvalo

The Dead Zone (1983)

Christopher Walken plays Johnny, a teacher who wakes up from a five-year coma with the ability to see the future of people he touches. His “gift” leaves him emotionally wrought and an unwilling hero. Inevitably he sees a future where he will have to make the ultimate sacrifice. Walken kicks ass as usual and Sheen’s politician is the perfect dastardly bastard.

Starring: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, Colleen Dewhurst, Martin Sheen and Nicholas Campbell

Videodrome (1983)

James Woods plays a seedy TV programmer who discovers pirated snuff that controls its viewer. Some of the most messed up scenes to appear on celluloid including one of our favorite scenes we lovingly refer to as “the human VCR”. A truly bizarre and surreal nugget.

Starring: James Woods, Sonja Smits, Deborah Harry, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson, Jack Creley, and Lynne Gorman

Scanners (1981)

A group of “scanners” with telepathic ability are able to will people to explode. When a renegade group of scanners with dreams of grandeur run amok the result is a grisly and gory mess. Great effects! A little more downtime than I like, but not without its entertainment value.

Starring: Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane, Michael Ironside and Robert A. Silverman

The Brood (1979)

Samantha Eggar is great as a woman getting very unconventional treatment in an institution. Unconventional doesn’t really begin to describe this freaky and truly bizarre little film. If you are offended by children in horror films this is not going to be your film. I really don’t want to say more and spoil the fun for those who haven’t seen it. Freaky little film that offers some real chills and thrills. This is one of my all time favorites.

Starring: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Henry Beckman, Nuala Fitzgerald, Cindy Hinds, and Susan Hogan

Rabid (1977)

Marilyn Chambers plays a woman who has undergone experimental surgery and develops a taste for blood. Everyone she infects becomes “rabid”. There is a city wide epidemic in no time flat. For starters, this film has the best promo poster ever! It is one of those films I seen at a young impressionable age so it holds a special place in my horror filled wretched heart. It is full of copious violence and a beauty little scene I like to call attack of the Vaginal armpit. This one is on my list of Top 100 best horror films of all time.

Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman, and Roger Periard

Shivers (1975)(aka They Came from Within)

Cronenberg’s first full-length horror feature. A scientist living in an upscale Montreal condominium has let loose a parasite that transforms its victims into sex obsessed, violent, zombie-esque predators. By the time most of the buildings inhabitants figure out there is something wrong it is too late. The film has a claustrophobic feeling about it and has lots of nasty deaths. A very nice first outing.

Starring: Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, Allan Kolman, Susan Petrie, Barbara Steele, Ronald Mlodzik and Barry Baldaro

One Response to “Worshipping at the Altar of Cronenberg”

  1. […] did a little blurb about David Cronenberg when I first started this blog, but I am shocked that The Brood is my first full-length review of […]

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