Sunday, October 25, 2009
Spooky movies! The Brood, Videodrome, Dead Ringers
All three of these movies were directed by Canadian David Cronenberg, and all three are deeply disturbing. To say that they are gory would be under-defining them. Cronenberg seems to have issues with bodies. . . and so he does. . . things to them in his movies. Nasty things.
The Brood (1979) is all Seventies psychotherapy, with the delightfully emotive Oliver Reed as a rogue therapist who forces his patients to manifest their emotions in physical ways. A woman undergoing this therapy starts to sort of. . . birth homicidal toddlers in bright snowsuits who act out on her feelings of rage. There's something so unsettling about killer preschoolers, I'll tell you, as well as some physical ickiness in this movie that I'd forgotten until I just rewatched it.
Videodrome (1983) tops it, however, with the hyperactive James Woods as a scummy TV exec on the lookout for shocking, subversive programming. He stumbles onto Videodrome, which he believes to be snuff footage, or the newest, greatest thing to come to prime time! The movie goes on to have all sorts of political and social messages about violence and media and television taking over real life, along with the gorgeous Debbie Harry as a sadomasochistic therapist. There's paranoia, frenetic shouting and some physical effects that are shocking 25 years later.
And then there's Dead Ringers (1988), a gynecological horror film. Do I need to go on? With the fantastic Jeremy Irons as identical twin gynecologists who have some unusual ideas about both instruments and women in general. While I think the "thriller" tag given this film was supposed to describe the strange relationship between the overly enmeshed brothers and duality in general, for women, the entire gynecological focus of the movie will give you the serious heebeejeeeeeebies. . .
Cronenberg has directed incredible movies that are not from the horror genre--A History of Violence, the ultra-creepy Crash, and even the adaptation of Stephen King's The Dead Zone, such a perfect role for Christopher Walken. He's made huge box office smashes like The Fly and Scanners. But his best horror movies all focus on physical mutation, the body altered or gone wrong in some medical way, most likely caused by a large medical corporation or government conspiracy. Parasites, mutant offspring, mutant women, VCR's in the belly. . . wow. On top of all of that, he's a groundbreaking director who seems to never have gotten the recognition he deserves.
From Cronenberg: "Maybe the body is the only fact of human existence that we can cling to."