Archive for david cronenberg

Favourite Five Series: DAVID CRONENBERG

Posted in Canada, Favourite Five Series, horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2014 by goregirl

David Cronenberg has forty director credits listed on IMDB; twenty-one of those credits are feature films. I have seen twenty of those feature films; Maps of the Stars has not yet been released. I think they outta start naming some Canadian monuments after David Cronenberg, or at very least a school or two. David Cronenberg Elementary; they can do a musical version of The Brood each year in his honor. Before compiling this list I went to the effort of seeing Cosmopolis, which I found Comme-ci, comme ça. It certainly wasn’t changing anything on this list. The only film I feel really strongly about from Cronenberg’s last decade of filmmaking is Eastern Promises. Don’t misunderstand, I have actually quite enjoyed Cronenberg’s entire body of work but it is his horror films that will always have a special place in my heart. Cronenberg’s early horror films are the perfect combination of the physical with the psychological. The term body horror or venereal horror has been used to describe his early genre films and an apt description it is. The term body horror basically represents a complete and graphic breakdown of the human body from any number of causes; disease, parasite, cerebral manifestation to note a few. Cronenberg’s films are complimented by strong stories, perfect casting, amazing performances and gag-worthy visuals. This was the easiest list I have ever put together; the only real struggle was leaving Dead Ringers off the list. As much as I love Dead Ringers and Jeremy Irons brilliant performance it is not a film that I revisit nearly as often as the five included below.

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VIDEODROME (1983)

Videodrome is about a struggling cable television station run by Max Renn. Renn is always on the lookout for programming not offered by the competition and shows soft-core adult films late nights. Renn is looking to step up his game and one night his engineer stumbles upon a grainy barebones production called Videodrome. Videodrome appears to be simulated snuff but as Max soon discovers it is all very real. Videodrome is more than torture, it is an addictive mental mindfuck with the ability to transform the human body. Videodrome is both a warning about the dangers of technology taking over our lives and our desensitization to violence. It also has really bloody amazing effects by Rick Baker that hold up as well today as they did back in 1983. Really ghastly and original stuff. Despite a mainstream cast and major distribution Cronenberg holds back nothing and creates a gritty, disturbing and uncompromising film. James Woods is pitch-perfect as station owner Max Renn. Woods Renn character is cocky, tactless and intense; watching him lose his grip on reality is Shakespearian. Deborah Harry was an impeccable choice as Nicki Brand; she is sexy, kinky and completely believable in the role. Renn has a sexual relationship with Brand who becomes drawn into Videodrome and eventually becomes one of its victims. Videodrome is without a doubt my favourite David Croenberg film and one of my favorite horror films of all time. “Long live the new flesh!”

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THE BROOD (1979)

The Brood is about Nola Carveth who is being treated by Psychotherapist Dr. Raglan. Dr. Raglan is using an unconventional treatment called Psychoplasmics. The method encourages the patient to work through their emotion until it physically manifests itself. Nola has become a primary focus of Dr. Raglan’s therapy due to her extraordinary adaptation. Nola receives weekend visits from her daughter Candy important to her therapy; but after her ex-husband Frank finds Candy bruised and scratched he puts an immediate end to the visitations. Shortly after, Nola’s abusive mother is found brutally murdered. Even more disconcerting they discover the dead body of a mutated child who appears to be the one responsible for the death. The ability to materialize your anxiety, fear or anger would be a pretty unsettling ability to have. I can’t imagine what mad nastiness my mind would concoct! The little mutant children featured in The Brood are creepy as hell. The effects are impressive and the makeup on the mutant kiddies is beautifully grotesque. Large groups of children in snowsuits scare me to this day. One of my favourite scenes in the film takes place in a kindergarten class with a bunch of child actors who probably grew up seriously traumatized thanks to Cronenberg. The best visual effects assault however is courtesy of Nola Carveth in the film’s finale. You can find pictures of it all over the place, but I am not going to be the one to spoil it for you. It really is freaking spectacular! Another top-notch cast that includes legend Oliver Reed who plays Dr. Raglan with charisma, strength and authority, the exquisite Samantha Eggar who plays Nola Carveth with disturbed psychosis, rage and a touch of empathy, Cindy Hinds who plays Candice Carveth a quiet, solemn little girl with an adult-like numbness that is chilling and Art Hindle who plays the voice of reason Frank Carveth. Mood and atmosphere, well paced, steadily building tension, amazing effects and stunning performances; The Brood is a suspenseful, intense and chilling experience.

The Brood

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NAKED LUNCH (1991)

Naked Lunch is loosely based on William S. Burroughs’ novel of the same name. Cronenberg turns the story into a semi-autobiographical account of Burroughs life. Characters are based on Burroughs real life acquaintances Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Joan Vollmer and Paul and Jane Bowles. Bill Lee is an exterminator whose wife Joan is addicted to the insecticide he uses to kill bugs. Bill too is affected by the substance which causes him to have severe hallucinations. So severe are his hallucinations that Bill believes he is a secret agent for an organization called Interzone and is assigned tasks by a giant insect! Although I included Naked Lunch on my top ten horror film list for 1991 it really is not a horror film; although Cronenberg definitely includes horrifying images in the film. There are some downright gross visuals that are on par with any of the horror films on the list. As noted, Cronenberg never intended his film to be a straight up adaptation of Burroughs book but I think he does a superb job of capturing the general vibe while maintaining a distinct David Cronenberg flavor. I love Cronenberg’s approach with the inclusion of facts from Burroughs fascinating life. The shooting death of Burrough’s girlfriend Joan Vollmer is worked into the plot of Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch. Burroughs says of the incident “I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would have never become a writer but for Joan’s death”. Naked Lunch is a strange, hypnotic, and sublime trip into another world. The film is accented by some truly exceptional performances from Judy Davis, Roy Scheider, Ian Holm, Julian Sands and Nicholas Campbell and most notably Peter Weller who plays Bill Lee. When I think of the most iconic acting roles of the past few decades Weller’s Lee is one of the first that comes to mind. Naked Lunch has withstood countless viewings and always leaves me feeling a little disoriented but awestruck. It is truly a one of a kind experience that, like a lot of Cronenberg’s films, elicits strong opinions of love or hate; I happen to think it is a masterpiece. “Exterminate all rational thought. That is the conclusion I have come to.”

Naked Lunch

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RABID (1977)

Rabid focuses on Rose, the victim of a serious motorcycle accident. Rose becomes the beneficiary of a radical surgery performed by Dr. Keloid involving tissue grafting. The surgery has an unexpected side effect in the form of a vagina-like orifice in her armpit that craves human blood. Rose runs amok in an effort to sate her cravings. Rose’s feedings not only cause bodily harm but they infect her victims causing them to go into a rabid state and attack and infect others. Doctors in horror movies have caused so much mayhem over the years haven’t they? If Rose had been taken to a regular hospital instead of a plastic surgery clinic none of this would have happened. Needless to say the infection spreads like wildfire and martial law is declared. The infected move quickly and attack viciously; fortunately they are easy to kill. The effects are solid although Rabid is not especially graphic. Rose’s armpit vagina is the film’s coolest effect and it is quite a unique one too! There are some particularly well-executed action sequences. My favourite is a scene that takes place in a mall during Christmas time and a security guy goes on a crazy shooting spree and kills Santa! Another scene that takes place on a subway is also delightfully chaotic. Marilyn Chambers does not speak much in her role as Rose but she is lovely and intense and a pleasure to behold. Chambers brings a good balance of strength and vulnerability to Rose. Frank Moore is natural and likable as her boyfriend Hart. Rabid is well-paced with evenly distributed violence throughout. Rabid is smart, well-written, intense and seriously entertaining.

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THEY CAME FROM WITHIN (1975)

They Came from Within aka Shivers is about an experiment conducted by Dr. Emil Hobbes using parasites. The parasites cause the patient to have an overwhelming sexual appetite. Hobbes implants his girlfriend Annabelle with the parasite who is living in The Starliner a self-contained, exclusive high-end condominium. Annabelle quickly spreads the parasite throughout the building. Hobbes then kills his Annabelle and himself and the case is closed. Meanwhile residents of the building are getting sick and parasites are running loose and attacking the residents. The condominiums on-site Doctor Dr. St. Luc uncovers information about Hobbes research and tries to contain the parasite in the Starliner condominium, but will it be too late? Shivers is an intense, intelligent, claustrophobic tale full of sexuality and violence. Shivers opens with the death of a very young woman by the hands of a middle-aged man who then cuts his own throat. The next bit of yuckiness comes from a resident named Nick who leaves work early feeling sick. He vomits out a parasite and it is not long before all hell breaks loose in the enclosed space of the condo. The violent and deviant scenes to follow are unique and effective in that very special Cronenberg sort of way. Shivers has sex, nudity, incest, violence and even cannibalism. There is a ton of crazy shit going on here! Repulsive, erotic, nasty, “even dying is an act of eroticism”. As is the case with all the films on this list there are great performances here from Paul Hampton as Dr. St. Luc, the feline-esque Lynn Lowry as Nurse Forsythe, Allan Kolman as Nicholas Tudor, Susan Petrie as Janine Tudor, Joe Silver as Rollo Linsky and Barbara Steele as Betts. Cronenberg creates an excellent mood of paranoia and includes plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle commentary on contemporary 70′s culture. Shivers was Cronenberg’s first horror film and is one of his best.

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Cronenberg on Cronenberg

Posted in Canada, movies with tags , , on September 25, 2013 by goregirl

I watched this excellent David Cronenberg interview/documentary last night that I highly recommend checking out. I recommend it so highly I am embedding it here to keep for prosperity. Thanks to Cinematographos for uploading this beauty! My only complaint is the interviewer is difficult to hear without turning the volume way the hell up. It matters little though as Mr. Cronenberg can be heard loud and clear and waxes nostalgic on everything from television and inspirations to psychoanalysis and working with Viggo Mortensen.

David Cronenberg Lobby Card Gallery

Posted in Canada, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2013 by goregirl

Super Goretastic Lobby Cards for David Cronenberg flicks…

Shivers Lobby Card

Lobby Card for Shivers (aka) They Came from Within (1975). Starring; Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, Allan Kolman, Susan Petrie, Barbara Steele, Ronald Mlodzik and Barry Baldaro.

the brood lobby card

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Lobby Cards for The Brood (1979). Starring; Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Henry Beckman, Nuala Fitzgerald, Cindy Hinds and Susan Hogan.

scanners lobby card

Lobby Card for Scanners (1981). Starring; Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane, Michael Ironside and Robert A. Silverman.

videodrome lobby card

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Lobby Cards for Videodrome (1983). Starring; James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson, Jack Creley, Lynne Gorman and Julie Khaner.

Dead Zone

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Lobby Cards for The Dead Zone (1983). Starring; Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom, Anthony Zerbe, Colleen Dewhurst, Martin Sheen, Nicholas Campbell, Sean Sullivan and Jackie Burroughs.

The Fly

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Lobby Cards for The Fly (1986). Starring; Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, Leslie Carlson and George Chuvalo.

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Dead Ringers

Lobby Cards for Dead Ringers (1988). Starring; Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas, Stephen Lack and Nick Nichols.

naked lunch

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Lobby Cards for Naked Lunch (1991). Starring; Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker, Robert A. Silverman and Joseph Scoren.

Fun With GIFs: RABID (1977)

Posted in Canada, Fun with GIFs, horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , on September 2, 2013 by goregirl

Continuing my celebration of Canadian cinema here is a Fun With GIFs companion piece to yesterday’s review of David Cronenberg’s 1977 film Rabid.

Armpit Vagina Examination

Dr. Keloid examines Rose’s armpit vagina. A strange and deadly side effect of his experimental skin grafting.

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Santa is dead

An armed mall cop goes berserk attempting to take out a rabid mall patron and shoots the hell out of Santa.

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She cant help it the girl cant help it

Hart walks in to find Rose (Marilyn Chambers) “feeding”.

RABID (1977) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Canada, horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2013 by goregirl

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David Cronenberg is my favourite horror director and has received all sorts of love on ye olde blog. His films have appeared on my top ten favourite lists for the 1970s and 1980s and he has four films on my top 100 favourite horror films of all time. Oddly, I have not given many of Mr. Cronenberg’s films the full review treatment. In fact, I have reviewed only one previously; The Brood. The only other full Cronenberg review you’ll find in the Dungeon is Scott Shoyer’s excellent guest review for Videodrome. It only seemed right to review at least one Cronenberg flick during this trek through Canadian film. My favourite Cronenberg is Videodrome but The Brood, Shivers (aka It Came from Within, aka The Parasite Murders) and Rabid are right up there. It was a toss-up between Shivers and Rabid for reviews. My video store made the decision easy, they only had Rabid. There was a neat interview with David Cronenberg on the disc who speaks on getting Shivers and Rabid made. Canadian journalist Robert Fulford gave Shivers a cover story on Saturday Night magazine stating “You should know how bad this movie is, after all you paid for it.” Shivers was financed by the Canadian government and when one of the countries leading journalists labels a project they funded repulsive and pornographic it makes the guys in the suits pretty antsy. Cronenberg got froze out of the film fund for a long while. It was later pointed out that Shivers was the only government-funded film that made any money at the time. After much hoopla Cronenberg did get funding for Rabid. Cronenberg wanted Sissy Spacek to play Rose, the film’s central character. The producer however did not like Sissy Spacek’s accent, Ivan Reitman suggested adult film star Marilyn Chambers for the role and horror history was made.

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Cronenberg carved out his own little niche in the genre with his “body horror” or “venereal horror” entries. Almost all of the director’s horror films could boast the body horror tag. Cronenberg is a master at melding the physical with the psychological always making for an engrossing and disturbing experience quite unlike any other. Parasites, infections, mutations all designed to alter and/or destroy the human body. In the case of Rabid “venereal horror” seems particularly fitting. A radical surgery involving tissue grafting is performed on Rose after a motorcycle accident. The surgery appears to be a success but Rose remains in a coma. A month later Rose awakes screaming but almost completely recovered. The surgery however had an unexpected side effect. Rose has grown a vagina looking orifice in her armpit and craves human blood. From the armpit orifice emerges a penis-like proboscis with a stabby point that punctures her victims so she can feed. “Unexpected side effect” may be a bit of an understatement. Rose’s feedings also infects the victim causing them to go into a rabid state and attack and infect others.

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Rose and Hart are traveling by motorbike and hit a camper turned sideways on the road. Hart was thrown and sustained minor injuries while Rose fell with the bike becoming pinned underneath when it caught fire. Dr. Keloid the head of a plastic surgery clinic nearby rushes to the scene to find a critically injured Rose. Keloid concludes Rose needs immediate care and takes her back to the clinic. Mad movie doctors have been responsible for much horror movie mayhem over the years. Dr. Keloid is actually not mad at all. Keloid’s speciality is plastic surgery and he treats Rose’s badly burned body accordingly. Well, except for the part where he seems to be conducting some manner of experimental skin grafting technique that has never been performed on a human being before! Otherwise, he is a real mild-mannered guy. Rose will thank Dr. Keloid personally for “saving her” later in the film.

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Dr. Keloid has no idea what he has unleashed! The infection caused by Rose spreads fast and furious and martial law is declared. Military men are all over the streets of Montreal. Once you have contracted the infection there is no cure and you will be taken out. The infected have sore, watery, blood-shot eyes and pallid complexions and crave human flesh. Their bite passes on the infection. It is definitely zombiesque but these folks aren’t dead and they are reasonably easy to kill. The effects are top-notch in Rabid. The film is not terribly graphic but it does have some moments. Rose’s armpit vagina and proboscis are very well done and quite unique. Rose’s kills are intimate in nature mainly due to the fact that she has to get very close to her victim to kill and drink. The victims survive the attack and are left with no memory of what happen to them. This is a smart, memory erasing parasite. I must admit, when I think of Rabid the first thing that pops into my head is Rose’s armpit vagina and proboscis. Those that become infected are more erratic and uncontrolled. Cronenberg constructs some really beautiful scenes of horror for those who become Rabid. One of the best scenes takes place in a mall at Christmas. One of the infected bites a mall patron and the shopping center security guy goes on a berserk shooting rampage. Mr. Mall Cop shoots the hell out of the place including the poor guy playing Santa! A scene in a subway train is also very well done and delightfully chaotic. The violence is not overly graphic but it is certainly memorable. Great practical effects, violence and a heaping helping of intensity all combine to make Rabid a perfect work of genre filmmaking.

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I would not say Marilyn Chambers was a household name but she did get some press for being an adult film star who was formerly an Ivory Snow Girl. 99 44⁄100% Pure she was not. Rabid was the film Chambers hoped would allow her to make the move away from adult films. Unfortunately that never happen for her. That seems a damn shame to me; I thought Chambers was excellent in Rabid. She had a good balance of strength and vulnerability that made her character empathetic. Chambers is also a beautiful woman who is very watchable. I quite liked Frank Moore as Hart. He is very natural and his character is a good guy even if he does ride his bike a little recklessly. Hart feels a lot of guilt about the accident. At the end of the day it was the motorcycle accident that caused the entire chain of events. The rest of the cast does a decent enough job as support although no one particularly stands out.

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Rabid is well-paced and constantly moving with well-executed scenes of violence at regular intervals. It is smart, well-written and intense with concrete performances from its two leads. It was completely unnecessary for me to re-watch Rabid; I’ve seen it at least a dozen times over the years. I think Rabid is a masterpiece and like so many of Cronenberg’s films is one I will continue to revisit for years to come. Rabid of course gets my highest of recommendations; a perfect score. Including huge picture galleries has become my modus operandi lately so in keeping with that here are images from David Cronenberg’s 1977 film Rabid

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Rose awakes from her coma screaming.

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Rose attempts to feed off of a cow but it makes her sick.

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Back at the clinic Rose introduces herself to fellow patient Judy Glasberg.

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A spectacular car crash is instigated by Rose’s first victim.

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Dr. Keloid examines Rose’s armpit vagina.

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Dr. Keloid is infected by Rose.

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The police find Judy Glasberg in the freezer.

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One of the Rabid…shot dead.

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Rose makes a friend in the local porn theatre.

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Rose’s best friend Mindy Kent.

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Rabid woman on the subway train.

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Dead mall Santa.

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Hart and Rose; together again.

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Rose in furs.

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“Produced with the financial assistance of The Canadian Film Development Corporation and the Famous Players Film Company.”

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman, Roger Periard, Lynne Deragon, Terry Schonblum, Victor Désy, Julie Anna, Gary McKeehan