Directors are artists. They can take an action that means one thing on paper and turn it into something completely different through a visual medium. They can evoke fear or tears, they can produce something magical and above all else they can mesmirise you. This is a first of a series of articles detailing those who in Pure M’s opinion have stood out in this field.
First, let us start with the master of visceral horror, David Cronenberg. Specifically his early filmography.
Cronenberg’s early movies are ones that explore the genre of horror and in particular he focuses on body horror. Through this he can send a shiver down the backs of most viewers through his horrifying imagery and special effects.
My favourite Cronenberg film is Videodrome. It is also the first film I seen by the director and it has stayed with me. The film follows James Wood who stumbles into a world of hallucinations, Tv’s made of living flesh, snuff movies and conspiracies. It’s imagery is excellent, with many body horror scenes that make you cringe in expectation and terror. The following clip is one that I just couldn’t turn away from but still watched with one eye shut.
Another favourite is The Fly. Here Croneneberg again uses body horror to impact us but in a different way. Jeff Goldblum plays a scientist who accidentally uses his invention to merge himself with a fly. As the transformation begins, Brundle (Goldblum) becomes stronger and quicker but eventually things take a turn for the worst as he begins to deteriorate and transform completely into the fly. The film features some excellent gross out horror scenes as well as really producing a character story as both Goldblum and Geena Davis turns out excellent performances.
Next up is Scanners, Cronenbergs breakout film. The film is famous for its exploding head scene. The film is about a group of people who can control people with their minds and the government who try to control them. It eventually breaks into an all out war between the ‘Scanners’ who have split into two camps. The standout scene is still the exploding head scene though.
They came from within is Cronenbergs first feature length film. It takes place in an apartment block which is becoming overrun by parasites that turn people into zombies, or to be more precise sex crazed zombies. The film is probably more raw than any other movie by Cronenberg but that can probably be excused due to the fact that it was his first full length feature.
Dead Ringers is probably Cronenbergs most daring film. About a set of Twin brothers, both Jeremy Irons, who are fertility doctors, the movie is crazy and plunges deep into the realms of obsession and addiction. Overall Cronenberg is excellent at differentiating between the two twins without commenting on it and creates an entertaining movie due to that fact.
The last film I am gonna mention from that period is The Dead Zone. Christopher Walken stars as a man who after an accident wakes from a coma with the gift, or curse, of second sight. The movie is really light on gore except for one squeamish scene involving a pair of scissors, but creates an underlying sense of foreboding throughout the movie that we don’t really see in Cronenbergs other movies of that period.
Overall I would have to say that the early visceral horror of Cronenberg is definitely something that appeals to me and as human beings probably appeals to us all on an animalistic level.