Shivers(1975) is a fascinating first film especially for a person who was learning to direct professionly on the job. An interesting part about this movie is that Cronenberg did Shivers(1975) without having a clue of what people in the film crew does or containing knowledge of film terms. The fact that he made a cult classic is a testament to his potential at the time to be an excellent movie maker. Shivers is basically the first horror film made in Canada as far as I know and David Cronenberg was the first director to open the flood gates for the horror film in Canada.
This motion picture mixes together the erotic with the zombie genre made famous by George Romero in 1968. In fact, there are many references to the zombie classic Night of the Living Dead. The movie is about parasites who enters people’s bodies and turn them into sex maniacs. It dares to break many sexual taboos that many film makers would be afraid to explore.
Shivers would provide a starting point for some themes that David Cronenberg would explore in later films like Rabid(1977), The Brood(1979), Scanners(1981), Videodrome(1983), The Fly(1986), Dead Ringers(1988), and Crash(1997). The two themes are disease as the transformation of the body into the next state of evolution for the human being and the other theme of the outsider who does not understand why they are so different from other people. Barbara Stelle provided the movie with many memorable moments especially the infamous “bath tub” scene. It is a groundbreaking movie because it would become a source of many movie directors for the next two decades.
One great scene is the “bath tub” scene which is a classic example of building up suspense until the final moment when the scene ends. Another excellent scene is when the protagonist tries to escape outside and he goes back in as swarms of Sex zombies go chasing after him. I consider this movie the beginning of a trilogy I call the ‘sexual evolution’ trilogy. The trilogy starts out with Shivers(1975), continues with Videodrome(1983), and finishes with Crash(1997).
Shivers(1975) would be a major influence for the scifi-action thriller The Hidden(1987), especially with the idea of a parasite entering a person’s body and changing their entire personal behavior. Also influenced by Shivers were the Alien series(especially Alien(1979) which was made four years after Cronenberg’s directioral debut) and there are a couple of examples of this influence. First, the two movies involve parasites who go in and put out of a person’s body as well as having acid for blood. Second, They both take place in an isolated and high placed area with Alien(1979) taking place on a spaceship in the middle of nowhere and Shivers(1975) takes place on a apartment complex called the Skyliner Towers on the middle of an island that is isolated from the rest of Canada.