Shivers (1975)
October 11, 2022 7:27 AM - Subscribe

After a scientist living in a posh apartment complex slaughters a teen girl and kills himself, investigators discover that the murderer had been carrying on experiments involving deadly parasites. Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton), a doctor living in the building, and his aide, Nurse Forsythe (Lynn Lowry), then realize that the parasites are on the loose, attacking fellow tenants. And those who become hosts turn into erotically obsessed maniacs who pass the bugs on through violent sex.

Written & directed by David Cronenberg. Produced by Ivan Reitman.

85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Tubi and The Roku Channel. Also available for digital rental on multiple outlets. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For my money, this is the Cronenbergiest of Cronenbergs. Very Canadian, very weird, very horny, very body horror. I prefer the earlier Cronenbergs that showcase his ideas instead of Hollywood actors getting weird.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:30 AM on October 11, 2022 [3 favorites]

Yeah this one's neat-o.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 2:21 PM on October 11, 2022

I get my Cronenberg body horrors mixed up. Is this the armpit monster, or is that a different one?
posted by bartleby at 8:11 PM on October 11, 2022

That's Rabid.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:38 PM on October 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

Funny to watch this trashy movie now and know that Shivers' impact on Canadian cinema was, not to put too fine a point on it, seismic. Starting out as tax shelter film, Cronenberg's feature debut with the growing Canadian studio Cinepix had modestly made $5 million worldwide. But its taboo pushing nature rubbed many the wrong way. Most infamously noted Canadian journalist Robert Fulford, writing under a pseudonym, penned a scathing review (PDF - see page 6 for that review) in a long running Canadian English language general interest magazine. That review, along with many others, incited a major debate in Parliament on whether the Canadian government should fund English language movies like Shivers and, hilariously, Dusan Makavejev's Canadian produced Sweet Movie. So when you watch this grotty little movie remember - it ruined Canada!

Here's a 48 minute documentary on Shivers from the Canadian series On Screen! which offers more cultural context and interviews with those involved.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:50 PM on October 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

Just started watching this movie about 30 minutes ago. It's so weird! A few notes:

-Why does everyone in this movie look so abnormal? Was it just the 70s?
-Roger St. Luc is a hilarious name for a doctor; seems more appropriate for a porn star.
-Breed a parasite that could take over for an internal organ? Yeah, that's crazy. Not just crazy, really stupid too!
-I like how St. Luc and the other doc are just casually having lunch and joking around a couple hours after their mutual friend murdered a young woman he'd been molesting since she was 12 and then killed himself. A couple of real class acts!
-Was that one older lady in the laundry room washing her hands with a stick of butter?
-So, how many guys in that apt. complex were having sex with that girl? Are we sure this is a luxury apartment and not a half-way house for sex offenders? And again, the Doc is just like, yeah, that girl was pretty popular! What a collection of assholes.
-Oh, and of course the doctor is screwing his nurse. What an asshole!
-The opening shots and overall look of the apartments really remind me of High-Rise, which I guess is appropriate because they deal in similar themes, just one involves weird sci-fi style bugs.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:53 PM on October 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Some LOL moments:

When St. Luc sees the worm coming out of his nurse's mouth and he just decks her, like he's Nicolas Cage in Wicker Man
When St. Luc is walking down the stairs and sees someone with two young girls on leashes, and he just casually turns around and walks back up the stairs.
When St. Luc is in the room with the old guy who starts making out with his daughter and as he leaves he gives them both a little nod, as if to say, "Y'all have a good night!"

And one highly disturbing moment:
When the waiter, woman, and little girl hold the security guard down and the little girl spits the parasite into his mouth. Really, really f'd up.

Little confused by the ending: so the parasite turns everyone into violent fuck freaks, but they are also organized enough to get dressed and drive to town for more raping?

Anyway, that was quite the film. Of early Cronenberg I think I prefer Scanners or The Brood, and I haven't yet seen Rabid, but this was pretty good.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:47 PM on October 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

The thing that makes the film work is that it's willing to follow the premise. The parasites do their business regardless of the person's age or gender or familial relationship. Most filmmakers before Cronenberg would have been reluctant to go there. At best, they might allude to it. Displaying it all gets icky and uncomfortable and horrifying.

I remember thinking the effect of the parasite moving around the guy's torso was pretty impressive.

-Why does everyone in this movie look so abnormal?

What's funny is that I always find these Canadian movies seem to have people that look abnormally normal. Being from Southern CA, Canadian movies, particularly from this era, seem like an alt universe where everybody is extraordinarily white and normal.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:25 PM on October 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Canadian movies, particularly from this era, seem like an alt universe where everybody is extraordinarily white and normal.

Having lived in that era I can confirm - super white and super normal!
posted by Ashwagandha at 2:17 PM on October 18, 2022

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