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(They Came From Within)
Shivers Shivers Shivers Shivers Shivers Shivers

Hosted by Actor Lynn Lowry and Producer André Link

35mm Archival Print

WINNER: Best Director, Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival 1975

Free screening!

Screening Times

“Skillful and scary” — Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

“Horror movies don’t come any cooler... a timeless take on sexual terror” — Mick LaSalle, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE


Director: David Cronenberg
Screenplay: David Cronenberg
Cast: Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, Alan Migicovski, Susan Petrie
Producers: Ivan Reitman, John Dunning, André Link
Print Source: Maple Pictures



The raw debut feature from one of Canada’s most prolific and shocking auteurs, David Cronenberg’s taboo-busting Shivers not only changed the direction of horror films in this country, but it created a national outrage over the very nature of Canadian film. Following a swinging apartment complex’s decent into chaos as it’s gradually infested by sexually transmitted killer parasites, the film continues to outlast its detractors and win over new viewers with its engaging mix of horror and clinical eroticism.

In the film, a deranged medical professor (Fred Doederlein) creates a genetically engineered organism he plans to use to bring about a more sensually aware society. But his experiments turn deadly when the aphrodisiac-secreting parasite gets loose and spreads throughout an ultra-modern apartment building just outside of Montreal. The building’s resident doctor (Paul Hampton) and his nurse (cult favourite Lynn Lowry) investigate the strange deaths of several apartment dwellers, but as the hallways and recreation rooms are overrun by growing hordes of psychotic, sex-crazed killers, the remaining survivors realize that escape may be the only way to avoid getting caught in the epidemic themselves.

The first English-language horror film by producers John Dunning and André Link, Shivers still packs a wallop today due to both its queasy gore effects by Joe Blasco and the chilling way the prevailing social order quickly crumbles away into primal madness and pandemonium. Drawing on earlier paranoid horror classics like INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, Cronenberg subverts the rising tide of sexual freedom that Cinepix’s titillating “maple syrup porn” comedies hedonistically celebrated just a few years before. Here, Canada’s “king of venereal horror” peels back the bedsheets to reveal an unsettling, dark side of sexuality that some feel anticipated the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. Overflowing with buckets of blood, perverted science, icky creatures and rape, SHIVERS quickly became the most controversial Canadian film ever when it hit theatres in 1975. Saturday Night Magazine critic Robert Fulford, repulsed by what he called Cronenberg’s “sadistic pornography,” launched a cultural attack on federally funded filmmaking that reverberated all the way to the House of Commons. Cinepix fought back, even publishing a pamphlet for Members of Parliament entitled “Is There a Place for Horror Films in Canada's Film Industry?” But they needn't had worried. A financial success on both sides of the border, SHIVERS’ unsettling and original exploration of disease and sex gave horror an early, firm foothold in the Canadian film industry.

—Paul Corupe

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