David Cronenberg is a name every horror fan knows. One of the originators of what is commonly known as ‘body horror’. His movies are often visceral, violently gory and with deep psychological story-telling. It would be this third film as director that would see the world finally take notice of his madness/genius. A sci-fi blend of body horror known as Shivers.
To date, Shivers is still lauded as one of Cronenberg’s best movies and for good reason. If you’re sitting comfortably, you won’t be come the end of this film.
Set in the luxury apartment complex known as Starliner Towers, Shivers uncomfortable violence begins almost immediately. We see Dr. Hobbes attacking and murdering a young woman in an apartment. Intersected with a glossy TV advertisement of the building’s facilities. After killing the woman, he strips her and cuts her stomach open. Before pouring acid in the wound then cutting his own throat.
It’s a hellacious start to the movie but the worst is still yet to come.
The bodies are found by another resident who has had some form of prior relationship with the murdered woman. Nick (Alan Migicovsky) chooses not to tell the police though and goes to work against his wife’s wishes. This is because he has been suffering from painful stomach convulsions and refuses to see a doctor.
The bodies are later found by the building’s in-house doctor, Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton) who contacts Dr. Hobbes’ medical partner, Dr. Linsky (Joe Silver). It’s through him Roger learns that Hobbes was working on creating a parasite that could effectively replace a human organ.
That’s not what he created though. No, what he created was a parasite that would drive a person’s libido to insanity. The person infected with a parasite would find themselves mindless slaves to their desires.
A parasite that is living inside and Nick right now and about to spread throughout the entire building. Resulting in a violent orgy of sex and violence.
Shivers in one of those movies that when you’ve seen it to completion, you just need to stop and think about what you witnessed. Sexual violence isn’t anything new in horror but the way Cronenberg does it, mixed with parasitic body horror, is something else. Yes, it is a disturbing film with many super-risky scenes but it is a thrill ride.
From the moment is starts, it never slow down and the ramping up of events is handled brilliantly. The tension is thick, so thick and it rarely allows a moment to release. Even the more jovial moments, such as interactions between St. Luc and other characters, are constantly pushing the narrative forward.
A top cast, no-one afraid or unwilling to give it their all. Excellently stomach-churning effects and an ending that is deliciously dark. Shivers is a must-watch not just for fans of body horror or David Cronenberg but horror in general.