Shivers title

AKA: "They Came from Within", "Parasite Murders".

Tag line : Being Terrified is just the beginning

ShiversBefore becoming known for his arthouse style violent Drama's like "Eastern Promises" or "History of Violence", David Cronenberg first came to prominence with a string of bizarre 'body horror' sci-fi/horror movies, starting with this seminal debut feature from 1975.

Set on the outskirts of Montreal, Canada. The Starliner apartment block offers the very latest in luxury accommodation. Overlooking the river and fitted with all the latest mod-cons, the advertisements claim it to be “living at its finest”. But when one of the tenants, a young girl named Annabelle (Cathy Graham), is attacked and brutally butchered in her flat, we soon discover that all is not well there.

The Doctor who runs the buildings medical centre, Roger St Luc (Paul Hampton), is shocked to discover she had been killed by a former associate of his, a Dr Hobbs (Fred Doederlein – Scanners), who then took his own life. But then shortly afterwards, he begins to notice the other tenants in the building exhibiting strange behaviour and sporting strange lumps on their abdomens.

It turns out Hobbs had been working on bizarre new organ transplant method, involving parasitic creatures that can replace human organs and the young girl he killed was one of his test subjects. But these parasites are not the helpful life-saving entities they were intended to be and are now infecting other people. As the other tenants proceed to violently attack and sexually assault one another. Roger finds himself trapped in the building, battling to survive as the infection begins to spread…

Also starring Lynn Lowry (The Crazies) and horror veteran Barbara Steele (Black Sunday, Piranha) and produced by Ivan Reitmen, who's best known for going on to direct "Ghostbusters",  the film has certainly lost none of its impact over the years. The opening scene with the obsequious building manager showing a prospective couple round one apartment, whilst Hobbs is violently murdering what looked like a 16 year old schoolgirl in another, is certainly one of the most warped juxtapositions I’ve ever seen in a film.

From there on in, the film makers ramp up the tension as we find more and more people in the building slowly succumbing to these creatures, until things finally spill over and our main character finds he’s probably the last one left and has to try and fight his way past everyone to get out. The film was in some ways reminiscent of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". However, I’m pretty sure this film was an influence on “Demons 2”, which was also set in a block of flats. Not to mention “Slither” and “Night of Creeps”, which had people being taken over by alien parasites.

If you haven't checked out Cronenberg's earlier films, this one is a must.

Overall marks : 6/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • The film was written and shot under the title "Orgy of the Blood Parasites".

  • Filmed on Nuns island, Montreal, Canada. The apartment block was still being built at the time and the film makers were utilising the few apartments that were finished enough to look ready.

  • The release was mired in controversy as it was partially funded by the National Film Board of Canada, who are a tax funded organisation and critics were displeased with public money being used to help produce a gory horror film.

  • The film's budget was $179,000 (Canadian).

  • Special effects artist Joe Blasco agreed to do the effects for the film after discovering Barbara Steele was going to be in it, as he was a huge fan of her movies and wanted to work with her.

  • Susan Petrie was unable to cry, so director Cronenberg used chopped onions to get the desired effect. When that didn't work, the actress then asked the director to slap her around the face to make her cry.

  • The film was cut for its US theatrical release by 17s, which shortened the opening murder where Hobbs cuts open the girl and the scenes where Dr Linsky's character is attacked by parasites coming from Nicholas Tudor.

  • Though the film was released uncut in the UK, the 2014 Blu-Ray/DVD release from Arrow films turned out to be the same as the cut US theatrical version, as the Canadian distributors remastered the wrong version by mistake. However, some of the cut scenes turned up in the extras on the disc. Arrow did later re-issue the uncut version and offered replacement discs for those who had purchased the cut version.

Extra Info.

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