13th Oct2014

‘Shivers’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, Allan Kolman, Susan Petrie, Barbara Steele, Ronald Mlodzik, Barry Baldaro | Written and Directed by David Cronenberg


When it comes to horror we all tend to have our favourite type, some will say Slashers while others may say they enjoy good old Hammer.  I grew up on Horror and when I was younger I had a thirst for any film I could get hold of, I found the styles I loved and directors that really caught my interest.  One of these directors was David Cronenberg, but one movie that never really sat right with me was Shivers, I just didn’t get it.  Then I grew older and wiser and with greater understanding realised just how good the film actually is.

Shivers was Cronenberg’s first full feature movie, and what a shock it was to the world (especially Canada), it threw not only body horror at us in all its gory glory but also unashamedly used sexuality as a weapon to unsettle the audience.  Set in a high-rise apartment building where a genetically engineered parasite is connecting itself to human hosts and turning them into sexual predators it was not only a harsh welcome into the world of Cronenberg but a wakeup call that horror was about to be introduced to a new age.

David Cronenberg brought science into horror in ways we really weren’t expecting and he did it in a way that expected the audience to use their intelligence and understand what he was trying to say.  This is why I didn’t really connect with the movie when I was younger, but an older and much wiser mind can take in such ideas as parasites and human nature, how alien hosts can take control of a person’s body and affect the way they act.  The world has changed since Shivers was made, and in many ways our understanding of sexually transmitted diseases makes Shivers almost too believable, as well as the imagery that Cronenberg uses and the metaphorical idea of the apartment building being a society affected by a sexual awakening of sorts.

Along with the film itself Arrow Video have included plenty of special features for Cronenberg fans.  With a brand new documentary Parasite Memories: The Making of Shivers we get to see interviews from people who worked on the film (including Barbara Steel, Lynn Lowry and special effects specialist Joe Blasco) an episode of On Screen! from Canada and From Stereo to Video a video essay by Caelum Vatnsdal the author of They Came from Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema there is plenty to watch.  If you get anything out of these features it is the amount of love there is for Shivers, and just how much it has grown into a successful cult movie.  It is a shame that there is no commentary track though.

I’m sure that David Cronenberg fans have this Blu-ray release on their wish list already, but if not then they should add it, this is a must buy.  With the picture quality up to Arrow Video’s standards and plenty of special features to provide all the details about the movie and its history, you can’t go wrong with this release.  Shivers is a movie that you do have to give a little thought to, and it still does make you feel uncomfortable, but is that not what we want a good horror to do? If any director has the power to push our levels of what we can handle, Cronenberg is most definitely one of them.

****½  4.5/5

Shivers is available dual format Blu-ray now, courtesy of Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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