My Top Ten David Cronenberg Movies

Happy 75th Birthday To David Cronenberg.

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:

11. Dead Ringers (don’t remember this well now)

Top Ten:

10. Crash

9. A History Of Violence

8. Rabid

7. Shivers

6. Scanners

5. The Dead Zone

4. Videodrome

3. eXistenZ

2. The Brood

1. The Fly

Movies I’ve Not Seen:

Stereo, Crimes Of The Future, Fast Company, Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, Spider, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis, Maps To The Stars

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My Top Ten Body Horror Movies

***WARNING: NASTY IMAGES***

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!

First of all, I’ll give you Wikipedia’s definition:

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:

10. TIE: From Beyond & Re-Animator

9. Basket Case

8. TIE: The Brood & Scanners

7. Night Of The Creeps

6. Videodrome

5. eXistenZ

4. Society

3. Slither

2. The Fly (1986)

1. The Thing (1982)

Honorable Mentions:
The Evil Dead
Shivers
Rabid
Teeth
The Toxic Avenger
Splice
Altered States
Tetsuo: The Iron Man

I’ve Not Seen:
Tusk

Shivers (1975) & Rabid (1977) Movie Reviews

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.

My Opinion:

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 titleis 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….

Rabid (1975)

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.

My Opinion:

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.

My Rating: 6/10

My Movie Picks For MovieRob & Silver Screen Serenade’s Cara

 
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!:

  FOR CARA:

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:

  • The Terminator
  • 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. 😉

 FOR ROB:

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!  

eXistenZ (1999) Review

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eXistenZ (1999)

Directed & Written by David Cronenberg

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.

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My Opinion:

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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John Hughes Movie Quote Of The Day: Sixteen Candles

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“I can’t believe this. They fucking forgot my birthday.”

Sixteen Candles (1984)

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**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
4. Videodrome
5. Scanners

Honorable Mention:
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