Shivers (U.S. title They Came From Within) is David Cronenberg’s first film and it’s got a little bit of an Invasion Of The Body Snatchers vibe to it, except it’s not aliens usurping human bodies but a newly created sex parasite courtesy of “mad scientist,” Emil Hobbes (Fred Doederlein). Working with another researcher the initial theory was to create a parasite that could replace a defective or failing organ, but the real reason Emil created them is discovered later in paperwork that clearly suggests the man was just crazy. His theory being man is too intellectual and doesn’t use his gut enough to let’s end society in one big orgy, hence the parasites. I speak of the man in the past tense because he ends up buying the farm in the opening moments of the movie in a strange scene that isn’t fully understood until the movie gets going. He’s seen attacking and strangling to death a nineteen-year old girl, then placing her body on a table and cutting open her stomach. We don’t see what he’s setting fire to inside her or why he taped the mouth of the corpse shut. Even less explainable is why he took his shirt off to cut her open and why after it’s all done he slits his own throat with the scalpel.
All this is happening in an apartment in the Starliner Apartment complex on Starliner Island. Since the building is so isolated they have their own dentist and doctor’s offices. This girl Hobbes killed was an experiment, she was the first to be infected, but once you’re infected the only thing you want to do is fuck, and fuck anyone you see regardless if you’re too young (a twelve year old is infected) or too old, gay, straight, other—or even related! So intense are these compulsions they border on outright sex attacks, which is what the police categorize them in the end credits. This girl got around too, and by the time the movie starts the infection has already begun with several characters already harboring these things in their guts, even an old man, who admits he got his “weird stomach lumps” from that nineteen-year-old chick he plowed.
Our “hero,” or the male character that lasts the longest, is Starliner’s resident doctor, Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton), and his girlfriend/nurse, Forsythe (Lynn Lowery), who is the movie’s “heroine,” or the chick that lasts the longest.
The other couple the movie follows is husband and wife, Nicholas and Janine Tudor. Nick’s already infected when the movie opens, which implies he nailed Hobbes’ chick. Janine isn’t yet and we get to see her futilely try to cope with her husband’s odd behavior like drooling, puking up blood and parasites, and having random convulsions.
Barbara Steele is in this too, playing a close friend of Janine’s who gets infected when a parasite comes up from the drain in her tub and slides up inside her.
As everyone succumbs in the complex it gets harder and harder for Roger and his chick to find a way out, but after Forsythe is infected and they get ambushed he has no choice but to leaver her and get out by himself now. Which he does, but once outside he’s surrounded by people and forced back in where he finally gets infected in the swimming pool, by his girlfriend from a kiss. The final shot is the next morning as everyone is calmly driving out of the complex and into the world to continue the infection!
The parasites look like something you’re body might shit out after a night of unhealthy eating. They can also leap at you and their touch burns. The blood could have been more realistic looking, in some shots it looks like bright red paint. Other than that the FX in general is pretty good.
I was always aware of this movie throughout my life, but never ended up seeing it until Image released their now out-of-print DVD in 1998.
Arrow Video has a special edition of Shivers in release over in the UK, but we here in the U.S. still don’t have a blu-ray or even a DVD now. Well, until that happens, we can thank Via Vision Entertainment in Australia for making their new blu-ray available to us all! You can buy it from Amazon U.S. or from JB Hi-Fi (Australia). They also have a new solo DVD available too. I cannot find Shivers on Via Vision’s site except in a collection with Cronenberg’s Rabid and The Dead Zone.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1(?) high definition widescreen—English Dolby Digital Mono—English subtitles.
Aspect ratio is either 1.85:1 or 1.78:1. I don’t know which since it’s not listed on the case. I was very impressed with the transfer.
Extras included . . .
- Interview With David Cronenberg (7:58)
- On Screen — The Making Of Shivers (47:38)
- Original Theatrical Trailer
(Note: Despite the Region B code on the back of the case, this blu and their DVD will play in U.S. blu-ray players).