Shivers (also released as The Parasite Murders and They Came From Within) is a horror movie from 1975 directed by the emerging David Cronenberg and set in a tower block in Montreal. Dr. St-Luc is the resident MD tending to the inhabitants who have started to develop odd stomach complaints that are definitely not related in any way to his colleague's work on a parasitic organism designed to replace organ transplants. He is asked to investigate a suicide-homicide that took place in one of the apartments, and discovers a link to the parasites - and the possibility they have already been spread to several other residents through their fun and games.
Taking Shivers out of the context of other films, it's an uneven quality experience and mainly of interest as it shows an early Cronenberg still coming into his powers. Acting is hit and miss, sometimes sincere and convincing, sometimes melodramatic or wooden. Scenes of violence, sex or sexual violence are also variable. A few of these scenes are horribly effective, including the homicide-suicide where an older and sinister man appears to be attacking a schoolgirl, and clips of their fight are juxtaposed with a new couple being shown around the luxury tower-block.
Other effective horror scenes betray the director's influence by his contemporary George A. Romero as the residents, turned into sex-crazed demi-zombies by the parasite, try to corner St-Luc and nurse Forsythe. The parasite creature is fun but doesn't ever appear convincing or threatening itself - the most effective creepy scenes are the ones that don't show the creature at all but just its' trails of blood. However the legacy of this film is the continued popularity of parasite-horror, including such classics as Alien (1979), The Thing (1984), Species (1995), The Faculty (1998), the Cronenberg-inspired Slither (2008) and so on. Meanwhile Cronenberg grows in filmmaking ability and his own later films such as Videodrome and eXistenz develop the bio-horror theme further, and the high-rise genre also continues to develop - High-Rise (2015) is essentially a re-make of Shivers without the parasites.
Score: 3 out of 5 stars
All movies reviewed on the Sci-Fi Gene blog are given a score of 3 out of 5 stars.