Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Best Horror Films of David Cronenberg

Cult Horror Hits from the Canadian Master of Shock!

Hate him or love him, the Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg is indisputably one of the most enigmatic if not the most audacious Horror Movie Directors of our time. 

However, most seem to know him only for his most recent movies like Naked Lunch (1991), Crash (1996), eXistenZ (1999), the under rated Spider (2002), A History of Violence (2005) based on the 1997 graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke, Eastern Promises (2007) and more recently, the lukewarmly received & confounding Cosmopolis (2012). However, his genius is more visible in his prior movies, mostly cult Horror gems released before his biggest mainstream hit - The Fly (1986)

Listed below are some of his early masterworks what I consider his very best, many of which unfortunately now are out of print. (in ascending year order)

THEY CAME FROM WITHIN (1975) –This neat little chiller produced by Ivan Rietman (Ghost Busters) is the first major effort from the master of shock and gore. Residents of an apartment building are overwhelmed by sexually-manifested parasites, which bring about their undoing in a variety of sick and bloody ways. Reminiscent of Cronenberg's subsequent effort The Brood, this film contains the seeds of a truly aberrant talent. Also released as Shivers, Orgy of the Blood Parasites, The Parasite Murders and Frissons (in France). Video link

RABID (1977) – When porn starlet Marilyn Chambers met the King of Shock, the result was described by one critic as "venereal horror." Post a horrible motorcycle accident, an experimental skin graft turns Marilyn into a blood-sucking ghoul who leaves her victims foaming at the mouth and more. And soon the entire city erupts into chaos and mayhem. Ivan Rietman was a co-producer for this movie too. Video link

THE BROOD (1979) - Cronenberg's Kramer vs.Kramer (as he puts it) is a stomach churning science fiction horror blend of a woman (Samantha Eggar) who, as the result of some strange therapy, gives birth to a bunch of creepy children who go out and kill folks whenever their mom gets mad. With Oliver Reed as the strange therapist and Art Hindle. Eerie music by Howard ShoreVideo link

SCANNERS (1981) - Canada's master of "organic horror" concocted his usual fascinating mix of high-blown conceptual conceits and low-down gore and guts into a exciting mix. Scanners are super telepaths bred by an experimental drug who tend towards, uh, explosive behavior. Classic climax pits good vs. bad scanner in a literal battle of mind over matter. Despite some wooden acting by the entire cast including Stephen Lack, Jennifer O'Neill, Michael Ironside and Patrick McGoohan and excessive brain-bits-on-the-wall special effects, the boldness of this director's ideas always comes through. Great music by Howard Shore in this one too. One of his few movies that have generated sequels and spin-offs. Video link

THE DEAD ZONE (1983) - After five years in a coma, school teacher Johnny Smith (a superb Christopher Walken) awakes with a supernatural ability to see into both the past and the future. Bsed on the Stephen King novel of the same name, this is Cronenberg’s most controlled effort. Smooth handling of a convoluted script with plot twists reminiscent of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone series. Walken's characteristically narcoleptic style perfectly suits this role. Also starring Tom Skeritt, Anthony Zerbe, Brooke Adams, and a maniacal Martin Sheen as a sinister politician. Awesome score by Michael Kamen. Video link

VIDEODROME (1983) – Cronenberg takes the biological upheaval nightmares of Scanners and The Brood even further in this cult multimedia horror story. James Woods plays Max Wren, a sleazy opportunistic owner of a cable station who gets involved with mysterious porno channel called Videodrome, which transmits hypnotic signals to the viewer forcing him into a world of violent hallucination. Debbie Harry (of the band - Blondie) in her breakout debut is very sexy as Woods' masochistic paramour Nick Brand. Great music once again by Howard Shore. Video link

THE FLY (1986) - A cult remake of the 1958 sci-fi classic based on George Langelaan's 1957 short story "The Fly" about a creepy crawly Kafkaesque tale of a man who metamorphoses into a ghastly insect. Cronenberg is already notorious for his inventive ugliness in films but here he gets to play with a big budget and an excellent cast and has a field day. Jeff Goldblum is astounding as the nerdy scientist whose world is irrevocably changed by life in the larval mode. Geena Davis is his love interest. Apart from a memorable score (you guessed it) by Howard Shore, this movie won a Oscar for best Make-up for Chris Walas and Stephan DupuisVideo link


  1. Awesome post. David Cronenberg deserves an Oscar!!

  2. evil dead 3 is one of my favorites


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