Shivers – 1975
T-E-R-R-O-R beyond the power of priest or science to exorcise.
Don Carmody co-producer
Alfred Pariser executive producer
Ivan Reitman producer
John Dunning producer (uncredited)
Peter James executive producer (uncredited)
André Link producer (uncredited)
Paul Hampton – Roger St Luc
Joe Silver – Rollo Linski
Lynn Lowry – Nurse Forsythe
Allan Kolman – Nicholas Tudor (as Allan Migicovsky)
Susan Petrie – Janine Tudor
Barbara Steele – Betts
Ronald Mlodzik – Merrick
Barry Baldaro – Det. Heller
Camil Ducharme – Mr. Guilbault
Hanka Posnanska – Mrs. Guilbault
Wally Martin – Doorman
Vlasta Vrana – Kresimer Sviben
Silvie Debois – Benda Sviben
Charles Perley – Delivery boy
Al Rochman – Parkins
Julie Wildman – Miss Lewis
Arthur Grosser – Mr. Wolfe
Edith Johnson – Olive
Dorothy Davis – Vi
Joy Coghill – Mona Wheally
Joan Blackman – Elevator mother
Kirsten Bishop – Elevator daughter (as Kirsten Bishopric)
Fred Doederlein – Emil Hobbes
Sonny Forbes – Garbage room man
Nora Johnson – Laundry woman
Kathy Graham – Annabelle
Robert Brennen – Boy
Felicia Schulman – Girl
Roy Wittan – Bearded man
Denis Payne – Elevator man #1
Kevin Fenlow – Elevator man #2
Review by Sven Soetemans
Although it’s fairly safe to state that David Cronenberg delivered his greatest work during the 1980’s (with genuine masterpieces such as “The Fly”, “Scanners” and “The Dead Zone”), his 70’s films definitely shouldn’t be underestimated! Titles like “The Brood” or “Rabid” are solid cult-gems that truly proved that he was a gifted filmmaker whose talent would only increase with every new project he set his intelligent mind to. This “Shivers”, released back in 1975, is yet another entirely different chapter in the Cronenberg success tale…
It was the director’s first long-feature film, made with an extremely low budget, but already showing his large interest in mixing shocking horror with subtle social criticism. Obviously inspired by the style and format of Romero’s classic “Night of the Living Dead”, the story focuses on the newest invention of some over-ambitious medics: genetically engineered parasites that are entered inside human guinea pigs and supposed to fully take over the functions of ill or dying organs. Naturally, this medical breakthrough isn’t as effective as it should be, and all the inhabitants of a luxurious building complex are mutating into sex-craving zombies.
In many ways, Cronenberg’s cinematic debut feels like watching an authentic exploitation film! It’s not just the low budget and the extreme use of gore; the odd casting, the twisted premise and the apocalyptic ending all feel very exploitation-like. Heck, this film even goes by several vicious alternate titles that sound like they only could have been invented by wicked exploitation distributors (for example: “Orgy of the Blood Parasites” or “They Came from Within”). I surely don’t intend to make all this sound like it’s a negative thing…on the contrary! “Shivers” is a truly bizarre and adrenalin-rushing movie containing loads of nasty gore, sleaze and morbid humor. Some of the dialogue is sensational (= “man is an animal that thinks too much” or “dying is an act of eroticism”) and the fairly unknown cast does a great job portraying the sex-driven but mindless “zombies”. There’s a terrific supportive role for Barbara Steele! Nearly 15 years after her best role in “Black Sunday” she still is the yummiest witch queen of B-cinema!
“Shivers” isn’t exactly brilliant, but it’s certainly better than most other contemporary horror films and it’s a fascinating oddity showing where and how Cronenberg began his masterful career.
Review by Wayne Malin
Director David Croenenberg’s first feature. A sexually transmitted parasite attacks an isolated, modern (for 1975) and sterile apartment complex. It causes people to go crazy and do sexual and violent acts. It quickly covers the whole complex while a doctor (Paul Hampton) races to stop it…and get out alive.
I’m not a Cronenberg fan. Aside from “The Dead Zone” I find his movies cold, un-involving and real sick. This is no exception. It’s badly written, wretchedly acted (except for old pro Barbara Steele) full of pointless female nudity, graphic sick gore, lousy sound and un-likeable characters. The parasites are pretty sick–they’re deliberately penis-shaped so we’ll get the “message” about them. A particularly repulsive sequence shows Steele getting infected while taking a bath.
Cronenberg used to have this fascination about showing the human body attacking itself or not being in control. This may have been fascinating in the 1970s and 1980s but it’s pretty obvious and dull now. There are a few nice directorial touches here and there (the part where Hampton is surrounded at the end was well done) but overall this is a sick little movie with little to recommend it. For Cronenberg fans only. I give this a 1.