Starring: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider
Music by Howard Shore & Ornette Coleman
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally kills his wife, and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.
I’m a fan of Cronenberg but had never seen this so was glad to see it on services. It has a great noir look but I was slightly disappointed at first until the vagina-looking thing on the typewriter-bug started talking & then the penis-tentacles on the other bug started oozing & I was like “There’s the Cronenberg I love!”
The story is indeed bizarre, even more so than the original films written by Cronenberg himself. I liked it but it’s not up there with his other body horror for me, although I still prefer this kind of work to things such as A History Of Violence, etc. I mainly just wasn’t as into this story. I’ll blame William S. Burroughs for that, as I’ve loved other adaptations Cronenberg has done such as The Fly & The Dead Zone. I admit to having no knowledge of this work, though, so hope fans were happy with this adaptation. I did throughly enjoy the visuals I was expecting from the body horror master and am happy to say it’s yet another Cronenberg film I’ll never forget thanks to some imagery that will be stuck in my brain forever.
I’ll be totally honest on the story, though – I don’t know what the hell was going on but I’m too old & too tired to care enough to look into what his oozing & talking vaginas and penises were meant to represent THIS time. I think there may have been a little bit of “Be true to yourself” in there. Or not. I have no clue. But I like that idea. I’ll pretend that’s what the talking vagina bug was telling me. Besides the obvious “Don’t snort insecticide“. Which you’d think would be obvious but didn’t some people do similar thinking it would stop them getting Covid? Oh I love humans!
I’ve ranked all the Cronenberg films I’ve seen here. Yes, I need to explore more of his work besides just the body horror.
First roundup of 2023! Let’s see if I can keep this up all year. I started Januaryby watching Paul Newman being all sexy so not a bad way to start the year. Here’s what I watched in January…
MOVIES WATCHED IN JANUARY (ranked best to worst):
– Cat On A Hot Tin Roof – Decided that gazing at young Paul Newman would be a lovely way to start a new year of movie-watching. Enjoyed this. Who doesn’t like watching a dysfunctional family yelling at each other? Well, those horrible brats & the sister-in-law were annoying as hell but Newman, Elizabeth Taylor & Burl Ives were great. Although it was a little distracting having Ives be so grumpy while sounding just like his Sam the Snowman character from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer… I kept expecting him to start singing Silver And Gold. Can relate to having to deal with family drama (although thankfully not nearly as dramatic as the cranky f*^kers in this movie) & I think many of us can probably relate to Taylor’s character so desperately wanting to have sex with Paul Newman. Mmm Hmm. – 8/10
– Last Night In Soho – Happy to have finally seen this one & have ranked it pretty high in my list of 2021 films. I don’t think it’s Edgar Wright’s very best (I’d probably only rank Scott Pilgrim below it) but it had a lot to live up to as I don’t think he’s made a bad film. It’s certainly one of the better movies I’ve seen these last few dreadful years despite being really sick of Anya Taylor-Joy. Taylor-Joy & Thomasin McKenzie both did very well in this, it was fun seeing Terence Stamp & Diana Rigg, and I enjoyed the (quite simple) ghost story. But the real stars were the setting, the film’s vibe and, as I’d expect from Wright, great use of songs to perfectly capture the right mood. It’s a film I actually enjoyed watching, which I can’t say of a lot of films lately including two I watched just after this: The Batman (YAWN) and, another Taylor-Joy film, The Menu (overrated & tries too hard). I like that Wright’s films just come across as having been made by someone who loves watching as well as making movies. – 7.5/10
– Crimes Of The Future – Love David Cronenberg’s body horror classics & enjoyed seeing a return to that after being disappointed with most of his recent films. It’s still not as good as his best but it’s one of the better 2022 films I’ve seen (I’ve ranked it 9th in my Cronenberg ranking & 11th for 2022). Viggo Mortensen & Léa Seydoux were very good and I was glad to see Kristen Stewart was in this way less than I was expecting. Honestly, though, I could’ve done with this one being far weirder. Seemed very tame for a Cronenberg body horror. Enjoyed the film, though, and hope Cronenberg continues to make more like this. – 7/10
– King Richard – You can’t get me to watch sports but I’ll happily watch a feelgood sports movie. I know very little about Venus & Serena Williams besides, you know, that they’re really bloody good at tennis. So I liked seeing the story of their family & how they got into tennis although I assumed it got the glossy Hollywood treatment (it did – I shouldn’t have looked into things – I prefer to believe in fairytales). Smith was very good but it’s a shame that what happened at the Oscars will forever be associated with this film celebrating two amazing sisters & athletes. I liked it a lot & its inspiring message and thought the girls (Saniyya Sidney & Demi Singleton) were great. The only thing I found slightly disappointing was that I’d have liked more focus on Venus & Serena than on their dad (despite the name of the film). – 7/10
– Marathon Man – Been meaning to watch this for years. Now I can see why the dental torture is always mentioned as it’s unfortunately the most memorable thing about this. I’ve actually never had a cavity or any dental work, though, so maybe that’s why this movie didn’t have much of an effect on me??
Did appreciate this movie’s look & vibe as I’m always a sucker for gritty ‘70s films. Dustin Hoffman was good as was Laurence Olivier as the badass dental torturer. Roy Scheider was also a very nice surprise as I somehow managed to not even know he was in this. So A+ for the stars and the acting but the story was an absolute mess. Not what I’d expect from a William Goldman story! Maybe it just didn’t translate well to film? To be fair, he’s had a few duds but I can’t help but compare everything to his brilliant The Princess Bride which I adore with all my heart (and Magic, which is also pretty great). I could barely follow the plot in this. Okay, I get a bit dumb when I’m slightly bored but WTF was going on in this? Something about diamonds & Nazis? Something going on with Hoffman’s dad that ended up having nothing to do with anything? Two old farts with road rage? Hoffman sleeping with some woman who was maybe bad or maybe she wasn’t I don’t know. It’s been about a week since I saw this and, yep, I mainly just remember the dental torture. And Hoffman running around a bit (hence the name of the movie, I guess!). Oh, and it was far more bloody & violent than I was expecting for some reason.
Disappointing story from Goldman. Fine performances from the big name stars. As expected on the gritty Seventies-ness. Certainly worth a watch but not up there with others that are also considered classics from that same time period. Does have its moments, though, and my 3 star Letterboxd rating seems a little low but 3.5 tends to be what I give to movies that I enjoyed much more than I did this one. I prefer rating out of 10 & this would be 7/10 on that scale, which seems more fair. – 7/10
– The Menu – Found this disappointing. A film that maybe thinks it’s more clever than it is? I did appreciate how tense it got & was enjoying that up until it became too ridiculous at the end & its message got all muddled. What was the point? Yeah, most rich people suck. No duh. I just think there are far better films that have explored that. And can we have a break from Anya Taylor-Joy being in every movie? – 6.5/10
– The Lost City – Better than I was expecting. Is of course silly but I’ve seen far worse romcom adventures. Actually, we could use more movies in this sort of genre again, especially with the adventure part added in… Thought Bullock & Tatum were fine together & had decent chemistry. I may be wrong but think some complained about the age difference? Oh, so the exact same sort of age difference in a million other movies except the man is the older one in all of those and no one comments on them? Forget Tatum anyway – I’ll take the almost-60 Brad Pitt who is looking damn hot in this movie. Oh, and I thought this was much more enjoyable than Uncharted when comparing it to a similar recent film (minus the romance). – 6.5/10
– Shotgun Wedding – This was silly but enjoyable. Happy to have some romcoms like this lately. This was a lot like The Lost City and it’s great that Bullock & Lopez are still doing these types of movies as they’re both so good in these roles. And I’m glad I didn’t look this film up beforehand so got a very nice surprise when the always amazing Jennifer Coolidge showed up as the groom’s mother. Love her! The story of course gets too ridiculous at times but who cares with this type of movie? Lopez & Duhamel worked well together as did Bullock & Tatum in The Lost City. Not sure which one I preferred but if you like one, you’ll like the other. If you like your romcoms to be a little less outrageous & don’t need the action, you may prefer the recent Lopez film Marry Me instead, which was also quite enjoyable & less silly.
I can say that this is my favorite 2023 U.K. movie release that I’ve seen so far this year! But I’ve only seen three… – 6.5/10
– Save The Cinema – Ah, another heartwarming based-on-a-true-story British film. They do love that genre here! I was of course interested in a story about a small Welsh town in the ‘90s trying to save their cinema from being demolished because I’d be trying to save it too (if my town had a cinema – man I wish it did!!). Figured it would be a “love of cinema” film like Cinema Paradiso etc etc (I love movies about loving movies). The movie should be called Save The Theatre, though, as it’s more about the woman who put on live productions there with the town’s children & that’s what she was trying to save. Samantha Morton was good in the lead role & I especially liked Jonathan Pryce as her old mentor & teacher and the one who has a love of cinema and brings that to the theatre as they realise getting enough people to come to movies there will help keep it in business.
There’s a great surprise for movie lovers at the end which I won’t spoil if you’ve not read the full plot synopsis. They chucked in a few quirky characters as they like to do in these sort of British films plus a nice little romance subplot but there wasn’t a lot of character development. Not the most memorable of these sort of movies but a nice story and an easy watch for a lazy weekend afternoon. Oh, and another surprise for the end: You find out that one of the sons of this woman became someone everyone living in the U.K. has heard over & over again… – 6.5/10
– Jackass Forever – These dumbshits do make me laugh… Although there was nothing that felt all that new & original in this one. We’ve seen it all before from these guys but it was fun seeing them doing the same stupid shit again. Too many c*cks, b*lls & b*ttholes for my liking, though! – 6.5/10
– You People – Can’t decide how I feel about this movie. Found some of it funny & enjoyed it while watching it but later felt annoyed at how over-the-top & ridiculous the parents were. Now I wish the couple had just told them all to stick it & eloped.
Jonah Hill & Lauren London were a likeable couple (although I found it hard to believe she’d agree to go out with him in the first place). The relationship was quite sweet. I couldn’t relate to Hill’s character and style. Is this what people that age are like? He seemed like more of a caricature. Everyone felt that way. Only London‘s character felt a bit more realistic. Julia Louis-Dreyfus did well with what she was given and was funny as always but, again, the character was too ridiculous. Same goes for Eddie Murphy. Nia Long was given absolutely nothing to do. Did find David Duchovny’s cluelessly dumb father quite fun, though, and liked Sam Jay as Hill’s friend.
I think it just wrapped things up too nicely at the end. So after all that bullshit they suddenly all accept everyone for who they are, cocaine habits and all? They should still think about moving far far away from their families & the cocaine friends. – 6/10
– Dog Gone – My first 2023 release I watched! This was safe and wholesome and a bit bland but it had a loveable dog in it so who cares. It’s apparently based on a true story but it looks like they changed the character of the dog’s owner quite a bit, making him younger & not telling the tragic reason why he got a dog. Not sure why but maybe they wanted to keep the story a little more lighthearted? An inoffensive sweet dog movie to pass the time on a weekend afternoon. And Rob Lowe is looking mighty fine at this age. – 6/10
– The Batman – I’m admittedly not a huge fan of superheroes. Don’t read comics but watch the movies. Enjoy them but they’re throwaway entertainment for me. When it comes to Batman, Tim Burton’s is my preference. Usually prefer more lightweight superhero movies to the dark & dreary ones now so knew this one probably wasn’t going to be for me but, bloody hell, I didn’t think it would be so boring.
Robert Pattinson‘s emo Batman put me to sleep (literally), Zoë Kravitz looked lovely but she & Pattinson both had zero presence in this, and Andy Serkis had no character development whatsoever but I guess we’re meant to have an emotional attachment to him since we already know who he is thanks to there being so many Batman stories. That may be the problem, though. As I said I’m not some huge fan & this movie seemed to be for the fans who read the comics & already know all the characters well as this movie didn’t set any of them up at all. The movie seemed to assume you already know all you need to know about everyone but I need a movie to make me care about the characters, even when they’re characters I’ve seen in other films already. I have zero desire to watch a sequel to this version whereas I did want to see what would happen in each of the Nolan films (and I’m not even a big fan of those, either, but they were great in setting up very strong characters). Oh, and the story in this was as dull as the actors. I guess Paul Dano was fine but he gives me a creepy vibe all the time anyway. Actually, Jeffrey Wright was decent too – a slightly more developed character than the rest for some reason.
I guess the best thing I can say about this is that it made me appreciate Nolan’s trilogy more. It also made me think much more highly of Joker. I still like Burton’s Batman the most & the same amount that I already did. It also didn’t affect how much I hate the ZS superhero movies. So I’m giving this an extra half a star as it at least still managed to be far better than any of those films. It’s not a horrible movie, it’s just dreadfully dull. – 6/10
– Stand By Me – I can’t fully put into words how much this movie means to me. I watched it every day after school when I was 13. Finally rewatched it with my daughter as she’s the right age now & am very happy to say that she liked it too. Have never reviewed it as I find it hard to review my all-time favorites but wrote quite a bit about what it means to me on this list I did on my blog: My Top Ten Stand By Me Insults. 🙂 – 10/10
– Footloose – Felt like rewatching this ‘80s favorite. Being the age I am I grew up on this so of course love it, although certainly not to the same degree as the John Hughes teen movies. Reminds me of my small American town (minus the crazy people banning music & dancing). One of the most Eighties movies of them all. Man I miss those days & miss when movies had such great soundtracks. – 8/10
– Circle – Seen this film 3 times now as I keep convincing others to watch it with me. Just love the idea, which very much feels like it could have been a classic Twilight Zone story. And still love that one of the film’s actors & producers commented on my full review of this on my blog (here). Love when that happens. I recommend checking this one out if you like the sound of the story. – 7.5/10
Documentaries, Shorts, Miscellaneous:
– The Imposter – This was certainly an unbelievable story but surprisingly far less shocking than I was expecting based on other documentaries from recent years. I’m not sure what it says about the state of the world that this ten year old doc doesn’t seem quite so outrageous now. Seriously, though – that guy looked nothing like that missing kid. There was definitely something else going on in this wild story. And I can’t believe this guy did the same thing over & over again. Crazy stuff.
Managed to watch three short Oscar nominees:
– The Elephant Whisperers – This was a lovely short documentary about a couple who raise orphaned baby elephants in India. God I want to raise a baby elephant! Absolutely adorable.
– The Martha Mitchell Effect – Intriguing story about the wife of John Mitchell, Nixson’s Attorney General. She helped to bring down Nixson over that whole Watergate thang by being a cool busybody who shared way too much info & was treated like shit for being a woman with an opinion.
– Le Pupille – This was a weird little story. Didn’t really see the point of it & absolutely hate stories where sweet orphans are treated like shit by nuns. But the girls in it were very cute.
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JANUARY
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Last Of Us: S1 E1-3– Have zero knowledge of this game but enjoying the show so far. But I do always love anything apocalyptic & zombielike… Thought episode three was really good in giving us a great backstory to, from what I understand, a lesser character from the game? Am hoping they’ll do that more with the main characters. They’ve fleshed out Pascal’s character somewhat in that strong first episode with his daughter but we know nothing about that woman he was later with & they have yet to really make us care about that Game Of Thrones girl. We’ll see. Will definitely keep watching.
– Chucky: S2 E1 – The first season was a bit of fun throwaway entertainment. Got a bit too ridiculous at the end, though. Don’t think this first episode was a strong start to season 2 but will give another episode or two a try. Guess they have to try to set things up again with all those they didn’t kill off.
– One Of Us Is Lying: S1 – This was… Meh. It’s based on a YA book I’d been thinking about reading. Was annoyed after starting it to realise it was 2 seasons instead of just 1. We need more limited series shows! Am I the only one who likes a limited series?! I don’t have time to devote to TV shows that just get worse season by season as they milk the fuck out of everything these days. I don’t think I care enough about this one to bother with season 2.
Very nearly finished with Fairy Tale by Stephen King so will review it next month. Loving it!
Here’s some more sexy Paul Newman 🥵
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Well, I’ll probably spend the next month watching as many Oscar nominees as possible before the Academy Awards. Not many on services, though, so won’t manage to see many of the biggest nominees. I’ve seen only four of the Best Picture nominees but have a feeling I’ve seen the winner anyway (I think it’s between Everything Everywhere All At Once or The Banshees Of Inisherin). All Quiet On The Western Front could have a small chance & I’ve just watched that over the weekend. Hoping I can find a place to watch all the animated shorts. Any idea where to see those?!
As I said, I really enjoyed the Last Night In Soho soundtrack so I should really finish this post with one of the great ’60s songs capturing the mood of that era. But I HAVE to finish with a song that played during “current day” in the movie as I love this song. Here’s Happy House by Siouxsie and the Banshees:
Oh man – this was a hard list to do since the majority of my favorite horrors are from the ’70s & ’80s. I’ll also have watched shitloads, so am sure I’ve forgotten to add some great ones & I’ll be annoyed I forgot them. Oh well – I can update the list if so!
1. I’ve had to make this a Top Forty, and even then I’m missing some favorites. So I have some “honorable mentions” listed at the end. And the ’80s especially was the decade for “franchises” but it’s too hard to rank every single sequel in those cases plus I see each series as a whole. So, where I mention some, I kind of mean the series. I’ve only listed some specific sequels if any were actually really good (Dream Warriors!). And, let’s face it, the first movie is usually a million times better than the rest (Halloween! Almost wish it was a standalone film…).
2. Also, in order to do this, I’ve decided to leave a few films out that I love/really like but I don’t see as “horror” films…
– Alien/Aliens (Two of my all-time favorite films. I don’t think “horror” with these – I think sci-fi)
– Jaws(Again, I just think “action thriller”)
– They Live & Hardware(Sci-fi)
– The Crow(I’m not really sure what genre this one is but I adore this film)
– Blade(See it more as a comic book movie)
– Ghostbusters(Not horror to me – just comedy)
3. And I’ve added horror comedies into this list. I used to keep them separate (I did a list HERE). But… I figure they’re still horror as well. So some of these, including my second favorite, aren’t scary horror.
4. Finally, I’ll just add this (Is anyone actually reading my long & rambling intros?!): This list is absolutely ridiculous. There used to be a blogger I really liked who told me off one day for all the “ties” on my lists & that I need to number them differently if there are ties & I can’t have more than ten in a top ten. And I was all “My blog, my rules!”. He was awesome, though, and I’m really sad he completely disappeared. Anyway – he’d have a meltdown over this list. I mention 17 films in my top ten (seriously) and number 20 alone mentions 8. I admit that’s pathetic but, hey, I’m indecisive & also hate the thought of leaving anything out. Should I also admit that I go back & rearrange my old lists sometimes?! I think I have some sort of disorder. So I dedicate this list to that dude.
So here’s my ranked list counting down to My Top Ten 1970-1999 Horror Movies (but including way more than 40 movies):
40. The Blair Witch Project (Yes, I liked this first film)
39. Night Of The Creeps
38. The Exorcist (Low, I know – not big on this, mainly just love Tubular Bells)
37. The Hitcher
33. The Craft
32. The Stepford Children & The Stepford Wives (Children is a cheesy TV movie & big guilty pleasure of mine)
29. Children Of The Corn (Only the first one)
28. The Changeling (Probably deserves to be higher but in all honesty I need to rewatch it – would maybe move up then)
27. Friday The 13th (I’ve shockingly only seen a few of these, so only really the first couple of films for this one)
26. Child’s Play (First three – Yes, I liked the third one too)
25. Chopping Mall
24. April Fool’s Day
23. The Return Of The Living Dead
22. The Sixth Sense
21. The Wicker Man
20. David Cronenberg – The Brood, etc (Sorry for the big cheat but what do you expect from someone who mentions 17 movies in their Top Ten?? 😉 Other than The Fly, I’m lumping all the rest of Cronenberg’s films that I like together. Big fan of his style, although his movies aren’t ones I revisit like a lot of other horrors. In order starting with my favorite of the remaining films of his: The Brood, eXistenZ, Scanners, Videodrome, Shivers, Rabid, Crash. Need to rewatch The Dead Zone)
19. Don’t Look Now
18. The Amityville Horror
17. TIE: Phantom Of The Paradise & The Rocky Horror Picture Show
14. Fright Night
13. Pet Sematary
12. The Fly (Unlike the other Cronenbergs, I’ve watched this many times)
11. Night Of The Comet
10. Dario Argento – Deep Red, etc (Did it with Cronenberg so might as well with Argento too! Deep Red is my favorite followed by Suspiria, although I need to rewatch that. Next is Phenomena, which isn’t nearly as good, but the rest of what I’ve seen of his wouldn’t make this Top 40 list)
9. TIE: Carrie & Halloween(Only the first Halloween film & honestly for the score more than the film itself)
8. TIE: Poltergeist & An American Werewolf In London
2. Gremlins(Do like Gremlins 2 as well but the first one is much better)
1. Dawn Of The Dead & Day Of The Dead(Dawn Of The Dead is my favorite horror film while Day Of The Dead may not be quite as good but it’s a lot of fun & I love it too. Obviously, the Romero “Dead Trilogy” tops my overall favorite horror movies list I may post on Halloween)
– Stephen King(I have several in the list but I watch every King adaptation & even like most of the bad ones. I ranked them all HERE once – the top two not horror! – but need to add ones from recent years. Some more I liked: Cujo, Maximum Overdrive, Silver Bullet, Cat’s Eye, Misery, Firestarter, etc)
– Body Horror(I did a separate list HERE as I find these fascinating but they’re not exactly Top 40 material: From Beyond, Re-Animator, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Altered States, Basket Case)
– More: The Toxic Avenger (Didn’t feel right putting Troma in the 40 but I do like this one. Actually, I like the first three), The Evil Dead Series (Sorry, I don’t hate these but I never really got into them), Hellraiser Series (Also not really a fan overall but appreciate its fucking weirdness), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Not big on these either), Candyman (Meh), Arachnophobia, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, The Entity, Sisters, Dolls, Alice Sweet Alice, Pumpkinhead, The People Under The Stairs, From Dusk Till Dawn, Audition
Some I Need To Rewatch Again Before Really Knowing Where To Rank Them:
– Stephen King(‘Salem’s Lot & The Dead Zone. Crazy I’ve not rewatched these when I’m obsessed with Stephen King & these are actually my favorite of his books – But I did rank them with the other King movies because my lists make no sense. Should also rewatch Creepshow, Misery, The Stand & Christine)
– John Carpenter(Really liked The Fog but, again, need to rewatch it as well as these: Prince Of Darkness & Christine, as mentioned with King)
– More: Ringu (I know I included it in my Top Foreign Horror Movies list but I really do need to rewatch it before knowing where to rank it here), The Hidden, The Blob, Phantasm, Near Dark, Black Christmas, Dracula
Want To See These!:
The Amusement Park
The Exorcist III
I love Cronenberg’s older films but have to admit I’ve seen very few of his films from more recent years. I preferred the really weird shit he used to do. The good old-fashioned body horror days! Which is weird, as I’m a mega wuss when it comes to violence in movies. But I love a good body horror (from the days when the special effects were pretty dodgy looking). Most of his films make the list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies.
Counting down to my favorite, here are My Top Ten David Cronenberg Movies:
This list wasn’t easy to create as it was hard deciding what movies I consider to be part of the “body horror” subgenre. While researching this to get an idea of what movies most often tend to be considered body horror, I also managed to see enough gory images to last me a lifetime. Yikes. Guess my love of the David-Cronenberg-style of body horror is pretty tame & mainstream stuff!
Body horror is horror fiction in which the horror is principally derived from the graphic destruction or degeneration of the body. Such works may deal with decay, disease, parasitism, mutation, or mutilation. Other types of body horror include unnatural movements, or the anatomically incorrect placement of limbs to create “monsters” from human body parts. David Cronenberg, Frank Henenlotter, Brian Yuzna, Stuart Gordon, Lloyd Kaufman, and Clive Barker are notable directors of this genre.
I totally agree with the directors listed by Wikipedia – their films are the exact ones I’ve always had in mind when I’ve heard the term “Body Horror”.
Here’s a boring, rambling bit that no one has to read: It’s become a little joke with my hubby that my top ten lists often come with rules that exclude the Alien series of films (for the record, I think the first two films are pretty much the greatest things ever created & they’d top every list if I always included them). Such as, I don’t count them as “horror” so always say they don’t count in any “horror” lists that I do. Well, I’m once again not including Alien/Aliens as, while what happens to the body falls into the “body horror” definition, the body horror aspect is not the main focus of those films. The one other questionable one is John Carpenter’s The Thing and I went back & forth on whether to include it. The body horror is focused on much more than in the Alien films but it’s once again not the main focus. Plus, it seems too good to be included with the likes of the other movies on my list. Well, I’ve included it mainly so people don’t yell at me but it means it’s my number one by far. 😉
What I’ve Not Seen:
I’ll also point out that I’ve of course only seen a handful of “Body Horror” movies so, if I’ve not seen them, they won’t be on the list. I had wanted to do a body horror week but just haven’t had the time to get anything watched for it other than Cronenberg’s Shivers & Rabid. Maybe next October – I can always update this list! Most films in this genre are really too gross for me (I like my gore old & quite fake-looking) but the two I had really hoped to see before making this list were Altered States & Tetsuo: The Iron Man. So don’t ask why they (and the Alien films) are not on the list!!!!! (Someone will as no one reads these damn intros). 😉
**Edit to say I’ve now seen Altered States as of September 2017. My review is HERE. It doesn’t quite make my top ten (it’s not actually “body horror” enough). And I’ve now seen Tetsuo: The Iron Man, which also doesn’t make this list. Review HERE.
Enough blathering! Here are MY Top Ten Body Horror Movies counting down to my favorite:
I was originally going to have this week on the blog be “Body Horror Week” but I only had time to watch these two David Cronenberg films that I’d not seen before. They’re not awful but also definitely not his best.
Let’s have a look at these two films, which I thought sounded like they’d be really similar but ended up being very different. One is quite boring for a Cronenberg while the other is absolutely bonkers…
WARNING: NSFW IMAGES IN THIS POST
Shivers (1975) (filmed as Orgy of the Blood Parasites – Alternate titles: The Parasite Murders & They Came from Within)
Directed & Written by David Cronenberg
Starring: Fred Doederlin, Paul Hampton, Lynn Lowry, Barbara Steele, Joe Silver
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) The residents of a suburban high-rise apartment building are being infected by a strain of parasites that turn them into mindless, sex-crazed fiends out to infect others by the slightest sexual contact.
I thought that, of these two films, the one starring porn star Marilyn Chambers would be the far more sexual & absolutely bonkers one. Boy was I wrong! Shivers (filmed as Orgy of the Blood Parasites, which is an awesome title) is pretty mental even for a Cronenberg and far more violent than Rabid. I also upped its rating after then seeing Rabid as Shivers is the better and more “entertaining” film. Well, I find most of Cronenberg’s stuff “entertaining”, I guess (in a fucked up kind of way).
I suppose this one was more my type of thing as I do like a good “slimy parasite that invades your body” film (think Slither & Night Of The Creeps if everyone had wanted to have sex with each other in those movies). It starts out sooooo slow in the way that only Seventies movies can get away with then we suddenly have this guy sawing into this naked girl’s stomach after ripping off her school uniform. It was pretty gross (and I wasn’t happy at the uniform thing – she looked very young. I believe they later said she was in college or something). Then… Nothing really happens again for ages in that old Seventies movie kind of way. There’s lots of talking and I believe they were explaining the parasite thing but I was losing interest when, finally, we see one of the damn things! Then it all goes completely nuts.
(It doesn’t end well for the woman straddling the plug hole in that tub…)
After the parasite enters the body, the “host” becomes incredibly horny (in order to pass the parasite onto others through, um, various orifices I guess). So it gives an excuse to show some of this:
(I love her 70’s shoes! No, really – I have some ugly 70’s-style shoes & they’re my very favorite pair!)
And, yay, we also get some of this! Equal rights!:
This one gets quite bloody & violent. I’m not going to analyze this movie – we all know that Cronenberg loves his sexual imagery and I’m not sure what this movie is saying other than that we’re all a bunch of horny bastards & that can get us into trouble. I suppose what was surprising about this film was how blatant it all was as opposed to Cronenberg’s later work where he was more, for want of a better word, “subtle” (yeah, not really the right word to use when talking about his films). I prefer the artistic weirdness of something like Videodrome but this one is worth checking out if you’re a Cronenberg fan. Or if you’re just a fan of a full-on, in-your-face, bloody, sexually suggestive horror film. Oh, and I quite liked one of the main actresses in this (Lynn Lowry). I thought she was really pretty & had a great, unique look. So I’ll end with a picture of her for the guys.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Now onto Rabid….
Directed & Written by David Cronenberg
Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman, Ronald Mlodzik
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) A young woman develops a taste for human blood after undergoing experimental plastic surgery, and her victims turn into rabid, blood-thirsty zombies who proceed to infect others, which turns into a city-wide epidemic.
This one sounded quite exciting from that plot synopsis. Yay! It’s basically a zombie movie! But it was a little boring considering it’s a Cronenberg movie with a porn star in it.
It starts with porn star Marilyn Chambers getting into a motorcycle accident and being trapped under the burning motorcycle. She’s rushed to the hospital and given “experimental plastic surgery”. Unlike in Shivers, there’s not much talk of what’s going on. There’s the “experimental surgery” and that’s that – no further explanation is really given. People are only watching this to see Marilyn Chambers get naked, right?? Well, there’s a bit of toplessness if you really need to know that. And I have to say that the experimental plastic surgery is awesome as Chambers looks totally perfect and doesn’t have a scratch on her after the accident.
I’ll get straight to what happens as the movie rushes along quite quickly as well. After the surgery, Chambers develops a thirst for human blood. She drains the blood from her victims through a vaginal opening that has developed in her armpit:
Out of the vaginal opening comes a phallic thingymabob – that’s what drains the victims’ blood:
Yep – how very Cronenberg-y! Now it’s feeling much more like the later Cronenberg films than Shivers did. There’s really nothing more to this one, though. People get infected, people get killed, and it’s all much more tame & much less violent than you’d expect from this director. The movie feels “rushed” in a way – it gets to the action much more quickly than Shivers did but then very little happens. At least, nothing too weird or unexpected (after that whole vagina in the armpit thing, which also isn’t exactly weird or unexpected unless you’re watching this as a Cronenberg virgin). What can I say? There’s not a lot to Rabid. I was hoping for something more but it’s still better than most of the other films I’ve watched for my October Horror Month so far.
I recently won a quiz put together by MovieRob for Cara’s blogiversary bash over at Silver Screen Serenade (you can see the post & quiz HERE). Anyway, I correctly named a bunch of lesser known Star Wars characters (because I’m a nerd who goes to things like Secret Cinema’s The Empire Strikes Back). 😉 So my reward is choosing three movies for Cara & Rob to each watch. Here are my picks!:
I e-mailed Cara a little list of about ten movies asking her if she’d seen any of them and was surprised that she’d only seen one. Cara is young and still has plenty of classic movies to see so it was much easier picking three for her than for movie-watching-machine Rob. I’d like Cara to watch:
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
EITHER: Cinema Paradiso (original version, not the Director’s Cut) or City Lights
*Cara – I’ll let you choose whether you’re in the mood for a silent film or the Italian film my blog name is based on – I love them both! They both have two of the most amazing endings ever. But next quiz I win, you’re watching a Studio Ghibli. 😉
Rob is very hard to choose a movie for because he’s seen everything worthwhile! He’s a movie-reviewing-maniac. So, Rob – I’m not doing this to be mean but you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone and watch the very few movies on this planet that you possibly haven’t seen. 😉 I know you’re unlikely to like these but, every movie to your taste that I thought of, I checked your blog and you’ve seen it! So… I’d like Rob to watch:
A film directed by David Cronenberg that he’s not seen
Seven Samurai if he’s not seen it (Rob – as a Star Wars fan, you should really see some Kurosawa if you haven’t)
EITHER: One of the Jackass movies or Slither if not seen
*Rob – it has to be a movie you’ve not seen so, if you HAVE seen any of the above, let me know as I have a few alternatives. But you REALLY won’t like those… Lol. (For the record, I like all of the above)
There you go! Cara, I hope you enjoy my picks. And, Rob, I hope you don’t hate me. 😉
I’d just like to add that Kelli Maroney favorited my tweet yesterday about My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces. Did you say “who”?! I forget you’re all only 20. Kelli Maroney from Fast Times At Ridgemont High & Chopping Mall & the AWESOME Night Of The Comet!!! 🙂 (I take every opportunity I can to mention the fact that she & Catherine Mary Stewart follow me on Twitter…) 😉
Thanks also to @videovangaurd @le0pard13 & @RobbinsRealm for retweeting it. Drew Struzan needs more recognition!
Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie, Sarah Polley, Christopher Eccleston, Willem Dafoe
Running time: 97 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.
I’d call myself a David Cronenberg fan although there are quite a few movies of his from recent years that I haven’t seen. Looking at everything he’s directed, all my favorites are from 1979 to 1986. This is when he was at his body horror best and I far preferred that style to the more realistic violence of things like A History Of Violence (although it’s a good film). I suppose that’s why I haven’t gotten around to watching more of his post-1986 movies. 1999’s eXistenZ is a return, somewhat, to the older Cronenberg that I like best. It’s certainly not as good as The Fly, Videodrome, The Brood, etc, but I did enjoy it and it’s made me want to try harder to watch the rest of his films that I’ve not seen.
I find that a lot of these older “virtual reality” movies don’t really age well. That sort of thing is so much more advanced than we’d have thought possible even back in 1999 so, although it may have been groundbreaking at the time(?), that side of things isn’t as impressive when watching this for the first time in 2015. Just like Snow Crash was a great book in 1992 but it’s weird that they’re choosing to make it into a film now (although I’m really anxious to see if they manage to do a good job with that one!). Can I just say that I think it should be a law or something that any cyberpunk film being made nowadays should have a score by Daft Punk? Yes, I did like TRON: Legacy more than a lot of people seemed to. 😉 Hey – since I’m totally off track now (I’ll get back to eXistenZ in a minute), can someone please tell me the name of a horror movie I caught part of on cable in maybe 1996/1997 or so where these teenagers were being killed inside a video game? No, I can’t even name any of the actors in it. I’ve been trying to find out what that movie was for years now… Okay – back to eXistenZ!
I didn’t hate Jude Law in this! I mean, I didn’t love him but he was totally tolerable. I also thought Jennifer Jason Leigh was very good – I’ve always thought she was a bit of an odd one but this role really “fit” her. Maybe she should have done more strange films like this one? And I loved her hair! I liked the partially crimped thing she had at first and then how it was fully done while in the virtual world. I know I sound like a girly girl going on about a hairstyle but, looking back on how this movie ended, I’m thinking the hair is kind of important to figuring out what the hell is going on… Amiright?! Probably not but, if I watch this again, I’m going to watch her hair more closely throughout it. I thought she was really pretty in this, actually – I never really thought that about her. I’d have to say this is my favorite role of hers now.
The story in eXistenZ first felt pretty straightforward, then was a bit all over the place Cronenberg-style, then the ending felt a bit “really? that’s it?! I could have guessed that but it seemed too simple!”. But maybe it’s NOT that simple? I suppose it’s one of those movies that could do with a second (or third) viewing to fully understand what’s going on but I often like to think there’s more to movies than there really is. I’m sure I missed some symbolism (other than the usual, obvious vaginal thing that Cronenberg loves, this time in the form of a “port” in people’s lower backs that they use to link directly into Leigh’s virtual reality game. with a cord that looks like a cross between an umbilical cord & a penis, of course!). It was pretty gross, actually. I loved it! Very Cronenberg. As was a very cool “gun” made out of bones & human teeth.
There are several big names in this so it was surprising that they all had pretty small roles (Ian Holm, Christopher Eccleston, Willem Dafoe). They’re not necessarily unimportant roles but Law & Leigh are in it the most by far, so it’s good that they worked really well for the film & had a good chemistry. Perhaps it’s why this film isn’t as big as some of Cronenberg’s others, though, as the two main stars weren’t exactly big names compared to other films he’d done (Law is more famous now than I remember him being in 1999). Plus, they’re a bit younger and they’re attractive so it almost feels like this movie is aimed more at a younger generation but I don’t think a young audience (early twenties) will have gone for this movie as it’s far too “strange” for a time when American Pie was the big movie of the year. (I’m not trashing American Pie – I like that one too).
Anyway, eXistenZ passed me by at the time (as I think it did a lot of other people) but, although it’s not as good as Cronenberg’s very best, it’s still of a similar sort of style to his best films and I enjoyed it. There’s just enough “WTF?” and “that’s kind of disgusting” moments to keep Cronenberg fans happy but I’d probably only recommend this one to his fans.
“I can’t believe this. They fucking forgot my birthday.”
Sixteen Candles (1984)
**I’m loving this John Hughes blogathon! But I AM missing posting random stuff so, speaking of birthdays, Happy 71st birthday to David Cronenberg!
Here are My Top Five Films Directed By David Cronenberg, starting with my favorite:
1. The Fly
2. The Dead Zone
3. The Brood
A History Of Violence
Love these movies! I should really watch the remaining Cronenberg films I’ve not seen. And speaking of movies, I did watch another non-Hughes one last night: People Like Us. Hmm. I’ll give it a 6.5/10. Review to follow in April. Also, I’m excited to have finally reached 1,000 followers on Twitter! What should I do to celebrate that?? #ILoveToTweet