Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hail The Old, Ugly Flesh

So here's how YHP decides which movies to record on his DVR: during the commercial breaks for baseball and football games, he uses his TV remote's "guide" function to scan all of the movie channels looking specifically for movies that were made between the years of 1970-1990 that he has never heard of. I'm actually kind of at a loss to why I do this, but I've so far settled on an overall weariness to the concept of irony which is omnipresent in most films produced within the last few years. Conversely, I could just be an old fart yearning for a simpler time or an elitist, pretentious douchebag looking for something to snicker at. Whatever works.

Anywho, he sees a movie labeled "Shivers" produced in 1973 which doesn't ring any bells with him and reads the plot summary which describes the movie as a horror film set in an apartment building that involves parasites. This hits all his requirements so he hits record.

Later he has some freinds over and, looking for something to watch and discuss, decides to watch the first few minutes and see what he captured and almost immediately is treated to what looks like footage from a snuff film - an overweight, older gentleman has set upon a schoolgirl in what looks like a hotel room and at first, it looks like he's trying to rape her. Turns out, he's just trying to strangle her and cut her open with a knife, but really the first impression is that this is a fucking ugly-ass movie. YHP's friends leave and he stops the film and considers deleting it, but reconsiders. After all, how bad could it be? As it turns out, it's pretty fucking bad.

The acting is wooden and the actors are uniformly ugly and often nude. The location is ugly, a Montreal high-rise full of small, dingy apartments. Child actors are put into sexual situations, including a lovely scene where two snarling eight-year-olds in bikinis are led around on a leash. The plot is laughable with scenes of homosexuality and incest seemingly inserted randomly to "shock" the viewer. It has a kind of standard, "zombie apocalypse" kind of ending, where the unappealing hero is swarmed under by rapist zombies and a coda that hints that this is but the first battle in the global war on oily, horny parasite hosts.

Finally my curiosity gets the better of me and I Wiki this film only to find out something I missed during the credits - this is David Cronenberg's first film!

Now the dream-like logic of the film kinda makes sense, and the preoccupation with sexual issues. Also, the bad dialogue and corny, laughable actions of the hero make sense - it's a great director's stumbling first stab at a full-length film!

So, yeah, see it if you have a chance. It's got that classic 70's decor and fashion up the wazoo. Just be prepared to watch some of the ugliest people ever shot on film (including a man who's looks improve when several parasites get stuck to his face) and some creepy sexual situations ("Have you met my daughter, Erica? She's a very beautiful girl. Come here, Erica. I just know you'll like my daughter, Erica.").

Long live the new flesh!


Churlita said...

Kind of an interesting find. I'm not sure if I could stomach it. But I do think I've seen every cheesy 70's sci-fi movie ever made because of my older sister, and it could be one of the reasons I'm so weird now.

Todd Totale said...

I think there is something wrong with Cronenberg, which is why I like him. I strongly urge you to consider The Brood, which is another early David film. It plods along at some places and displays a troubling undercurrent of problems with women. But it scared the piss out of me as a child and the ending is awesome, especially when the crazy woman cleans the afterbirth of a new child with her tounge. It's also the film that helped explain to my friend Todd what purpose the belly button served.

Tanja said...

Two of my favorites that would fit your criteria: A Polish Vampire in Burbank" and "Morons From Outer Space" I highly recommend them both.

Your Humble Proprietor said...


I tried to Netflix "Polish Vampire" and got the dreaded Availability: Unknown. "Morons" however, has been added to my queue.