Shiver Retro Review
Every once in a while I get an itch for an older horror film. And I sometimes get the feeling I should share my belated review of said film with the reading public. There are cases where we haven't gone back and watched some of the "classics", and we sometimes question whether or not we should. Retro reviews, like these, may help shed some light on whether or not you should.
Shivers was one of David Cronenberg's earlier works. For some reason, I haven't viewed it until recently, despite my public love for his remake of The Fly (arguably the best horror remake of all time) and the psychedelic yet visceral Naked Lunch. Cronenberg's affinity for the grotesquely aesthetic is what put him on the map. In many ways, it began with this film. And after having viewed it, I can see why.
Shivers is a fairly intense film given its subject matter and the year of its release (1975). It is essentially about a bio-engineered sexually-transmitted parasite. In a time of sexual permiscuity in America, this film felt almost like a satire of our own depravity, giving a nasty example of something we can be passing around with multiple partners. Obviously, most of the film's cast isn't truly doing these behaviors of their own accord, but the point could be found nonetheless.
I had to keep double-checking the release date of the film considering its unsettlingly familiar coincidences with the AIDS epidemic that wouldn't be identified until the early 80's. This film played out just like a horror metaphor for the sexually-transmitted disease, and it is surprising to see this film as an unbeknownst warning of things to come.
I was blown away by the influences this film has had on more recent installments, namely Slither. Of course, the director of Slither admitted Shivers and another of Cronenberg's films, The Brood, helped influence his plot and production. The parasite bath scene in Shivers was later blatantly ripped off in the 2006 film, and the sexualized nature of our possessed antagonist in Slither was very similar to the parasite's effects in Shivers. Either way, I was impressed to find such powerful influences coming from this film that has gone from panned to acclaimed over time, much like many horror masterpieces of the 70's and 80's.
Shivers suffered from a lack of legitimate acting, but that was neither a surprise nor particularly distracting. The effects were decent for the time, but considering the power Cronenberg would later possess in his career, I was crossing my fingers for more. The film contained much of Cronenberg's disgusting cinematic visage, but wasn't compelling from a fear standpoint. The complete lack of coordination from attackers really killed the impending doom aspect. If you decide to watch the film, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
Horror Qualifier: 9/10
Horror Quality: 6/10
Film Quality: 5/10