Cinema Jove welcomes the apostle of uncomfortable cinema, body modelling and strange sex. The cycle, dedicated to the early films of cult filmmaker David Cronenberg (Toronto, Canada, 1943), will include the works shot before he was over 40, that is, the productions with which the cult director could have competed in the Official Selection of the event. All the sessions will take place at the Octubre CCC (Calle de San Fernando, 12).
“Cronenberg is not only one of the directors with whom contemporary cinema is best understood; he is also someone who has managed to amalgamate and bring together audiences from different genres (horror, psychological drama, gore, science fiction). Reviewing his beginnings in cinema does not disappoint: the incursion into each genre he approaches shows his talent, his attention to detail and his ability to surprise, shock and envelop the viewer in nightmarish worlds; and he also achieves this with internal coherence and great narrative eloquence”, emphasised the director of Cinema Jove, Carlos Madrid.
The selection includes the feature films ‘Shivers’ (1976), ‘Rabid’ (1977), ‘Fast Company’ (1979), ‘The Brood’ (1979), ‘Scanners’ (1981), ‘Videodrome’ (1983) and ‘The Dead Zone’ (1983). These early films by the director also feature young James Woods, Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen.
The ensemble belongs to the stage of construction of fantastic worlds by the Canadian screenwriter and director, who over the years has evolved towards suspense thrillers and psychological drama.
Cronenberg’s imagination reflects the trauma caused by his father’s degenerative illness and his interest in medical studies, for which he even enrolled in medical school. Hence, in his projects, he pushes human fears of infection and bodily transformation to the limit. The degradation of body and mind are fixations in one of the major references of the so-called ‘body horror’.
His first feature films are linked to the exploitation films typical of the seventies and eighties, with a penchant for the lurid, but where commercial success took precedence over quality. In the case of the Canadian, the desire for transgression is present, but with a personal stamp that makes him stand out from the rest of the products in this cinematic category. What in the hands of other directors is B movies, in his hands, nightmares are elevated to the category of art.
Thus, his debut feature, ‘Vinieron de dentro de…’, was his personal approach to zombie films, while ‘Rabia’ was his foray into the vampire sub-genre. His debut received the Best Director Award at the Sitges Festival and stars the first of his mad scientists, a regular feature in his career. The second features porn star Marilyn Chambers among its cast.
His next film, ‘Tensión en el circuito’ is a rarity that captures the director’s passion for speed and car racing, and precedes the fetishism of the machine that would explode in all its complexity and concupiscence in ‘Crash’ (1996).
The hatching of the new flesh
Chromosome 3′ marks the beginning of the so-called new flesh, an expression that refers to the fusion of human tissues with technology. Since then, Cronenberg has continued and expanded his experiments in body alteration through electronics. The film also marked his first collaboration with his composer of choice, Howard Shore, who has since scored all but one of his soundtracks.
The exploding heads in his next film, Scamners, are pure iconic imagery of contemporary horror cinema. Its protagonists are a minority of human beings endowed with supernatural powers, including telepathy and telekinesis.
Videodrome’ was considered by Andy Warhol to be the Clockwork Orange of the 1980s. The film is a critique of mass media that resonates in a visionary way with today’s influx of new technologies. For pop music fans, note the presence of Blondie singer Debbie Harry in the cast.
That project left the director so exhausted that the last film to complete this assortment of horror films is a commissioned work: the adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name, ‘The Dead Zone’, in which the protagonist also manifests extrasensory powers.
David Cronenberg is today one of the most respected genre filmmakers, with an influence not only on the seventh art, but also on philosophy and contemporary art, technology and social science.