Friday, November 18, 2011

Shivers (1975)

Shivers, directed by David Cronenberg, is a horror film which could be considered a zombie movie. I enjoyed it, despite its creepiness and it stands as a true example of Canadian film, zombie movies and Cronenberg’s work. The zombies in this are almost like rage zombies from 28 Days Later and Los Ganados from Resident Evil 4, except it turns them into rapists instead of cannibals. They don’t necessarily need to have sex to transfer the parasite, but they are driven to sex. This makes it more disturbing than the usual flesh-eating zombies in some ways, and in other ways, less disturbing. There is less gore and violence but still more than the average movie. Also, the horror comes through in the violent sexual advances as well as Cronenberg’s trademark bio-grossness.

Although far from empty, the island secluded apartment building evokes a similar isolating atmosphere as the house in the Night of the Living Dead, which proceeded this film or the Overlook Hotel that would follow it in The Shining. This isolation is interesting because it's a large group of people living closely in a self-sustained society, a point that is touted in the beginning of the film. This is the set up for the impending infection.

The film holds an odd, but unique, view on the line between sex and violence. It also presents the repulsive idea of parasitic venereal invaders. The biological implications are a Cronenberg trademark I like. It keeps things imaginative and exploratory. According to Wikipedia this was his first feature film and its a brave first outing. I think the contrast of sex to violence is interesting because these victims are a lot less physically dangerous than the typical zombie, it isn’t totally life threatening. While their assaults are often violent and murderous, not all advances are rejected and its not like a zombie who’s first intention is to bite and kill.

The Night of the Living Dead was released in 1968, so if this film was classified as falling within the zombie genre, it's fairly early. This allowed the film to follow certain trends from the genre, but diverge from the not-yet established dogma. I think if it was made later it’d be more trapped within the repeated establishments by any other successful zombie film that proceeded it. I found it to be a unique, fascinating and early take on zombie films, and while its not for everyone, I would recommend it.

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