David Cronenberg

Though best known for what has come to be known as body horror there is more to David Cronenberg’s work. While not neglecting this better known side of his work via such films as Shivers and The Brood, we here demonstrate Cronenberg’s versatility through the seemingly incongruous likes of drag racing B-movie Fast Company and operatic drama M. Butterfly.

Crimes of the Future

David Cronenberg | Canada | 1970 | 70 minutes

Tripod, the sometime director of a dermatological clinic called the House of Skin, is searching for his mentor, the mad dermatologist Antoine Rouge. Rouge has disappeared following a catastrophic plague resulting from cosmetic products, which has killed the entire population of sexually mature women.

Shivers

David Cronenberg | Canada | 1975 | 87 minutes

The residents of a suburban high-rise apartment building are being infected by a strain of parasites that turn them into mindless, sex-crazed fiends out to infect others by the slightest sexual contact. Linn Lowry and Barbara Steele co-star, alongside Dr Hobbes’s phallic turds.

Fast Company

David Cronenberg | Canada | 1979 | 91 minutes

Cronenberg may seem an odd choice to helm a B-movie about drag racing but when you remember female lead Claudia Jennings’ death in a car accident shortly afterwards and the director’s later adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s Crash, there’s perhaps an auto-erotic framework into which Fast Company fits.

The Brood

David Cronenberg | Canada | 1979 | 92 minutes

A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband’s investigation. The film coincided with Cronenberg’s own messy divorce and child-custody case. Oliver Reed plays the psychologist.

The Dead Zone

David Cronenberg | USA | 1983 | 103 minutes

In this Stephen King adaptation a man awakens from a five-year coma to discover that he can foresee the future. The question is whether he can also then change it. Christopher Walken plays the man.

M. Butterfly

David Cronenberg | USA | 1993 | 101 minutes

During the Cultural Revolution in China in the mid-1960s, a French diplomat falls in love with a singer in the Beijing Opera. Interwoven with allusions to the Puccini opera Madame Butterfly, a story of love and betrayal unfolds. A box-office flop, the film only took $1.5 million at the US box-office – less than one-fifth Cronenberg and Jeremy Irons previous collaboration, Dead Ringers. We think the film is ripe for reappraisal – so see if you agree.

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