Body horror is David Cronenberg’s specialty. As a tribute, we’ve put together a list of some of his scariest films, from the 1970s onward.
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Stereo, David Cronenberg’s first feature-length film, was released in 1969. He was a household name in the horror genre by the time he died in 1975. If you’ve never heard of him before, you’re missing out on a great deal of history’s most revered and beloved horror films.
Cronenberg’s horror films are unique because they are as much about the mind as they are about the body. Even though Cronenberg has no qualms with gore, he is equally interested in finding out what makes something scary, and this has made him an influential figure for new horror directors.
1. Naked Lunch (1991)
Naked Lunch is a 1991 science fiction horror film based on William S. Burroughs’ bizarre novel. Cult classic: Cronenberg made a film out of a novel that most admirers thought was impossible to adapt to the big screen.
His wife is taking pesticide as a recreational drug, and the exterminator quickly feels that the drug is making people change into insects. The film depicts a man who is unable to manage his vices, and his hallucinations and delusions are both frightening and horrifying.
2. eXistenZ (1999)
eXistenZ, a 1999 science fiction horror film by David Cronenberg, features Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh in the lead roles. When assassins attack Leigh, she is playing a virtual reality game as a video game designer. Law is a newcomer who has been brought in to assist her.
eXistenZ was released at the same time as The Matrix, and while both films took place in a virtual reality world, Cronenberg’s film was more frightening and visceral than Naked Lunch, integrating the sci-fi notions with the body horror that the director excels in.
3. Rabid (1977)
He was in the middle of his experimental period when he directed Rabid, which was made in the early stages of his career. Cronenberg was able to let his imagination run free because the film was an independent release. As a result, one of the most commercially successful Canadian films ever was born.
As Rose, a woman who was injured in a motorbike accident and received an experimental treatment, Marilyn Chambers plays the key part. Her hole under her arm grows a stinger, which infects whomever she attacks. Because of the film’s limited budget, it was unable to fully express its dark and frightening nature.
4. Shivers (1975)
David Cronenberg’s first horror film was Shivers. The film was a horror story about parasites that take over a human body and wreak havoc in the process. Cronenberg films have a tendency to become cult classics, even if the initial reviews were not so positive.
The film is held back by the fact that it lacks the intelligence of his later horror films, but is still a far cry from the exploitation films of its day. In Shivers, there is a lot of violence, blood, and gore, which is enough to satisfy even the most ardent horror movie lover.
5. The Brood (1979)
When David Cronenberg made The Brood, he found his stride in the horror genre. 1979 saw the release of a film that expanded upon the themes from its predecessors while also adding subtext to make it more than just a collection of gory, frightening images.
The story revolves around a deranged scientist who establishes a cloning facility and then uses mind control to manipulate the clones.
Rotten Tomatoes has given it an 82 percent Fresh rating despite the fact that it was initially slammed by critics.
The Brood is one of the best horror films of the 1970s because of its focus on the fear of fatherhood.
6. Scanners (1981)
As a science-fiction horror film, David Cronenberg’s Scanners fit in nicely with Carrie and Firestarter of the time. Cronenberg, on the other hand, went a step farther than King’s adaptations with some truly harrowing scenes.
A scanner known as ConSec (Michael Ironside) waged battle against the weapons developer. What occurred when counter-culturalism became the dominant American culture was depicted in Scanners. One of cinema’s best body horror flicks was further enhanced by an impressive array of special effects.
7. The Dead Zone (1983)
Shortly after their release, some of Stephen King’s earliest works were adapted into films. The Dead Zone, by David Cronenberg, was one of the best releases of the year. Johnny Smith, a young guy who could see glimpses of the future by touching someone, was the subject of the story.
This allowed Cronenberg to experiment with a new kind of horror film. Director David Fincher strayed from his usual approach to body horror in The Dead Zone, instead focusing on building tension and suspense around a strong lead performance by Christopher Walken.
8. Videodrome (1983)
As one of David Cronenberg’s most intelligent horror films, Videodrome remains one of his most popular works, with an excellent Criterion Collection edition available for fans to revisit the film. A UHF television producer discovers a broadcast signal revealing violence and torture, and James Woods stars in the film.
As a result of these programs, viewers are subjected to bizarre hallucinations. When Videodrome was released, it was a box office flop, and critics wrote it off as strange. However, many who applauded the film’s unique and brilliantly terrible imagery of body horror, making it one of the scariest movies of the 1980s, used the same phrase.
9. Dead Ringers (1988)
For his 1988 film Dead Ringers, which featured Jeremy Irons as identical brothers who own and run a lucrative gynecological clinic, David Cronenberg used the actor in two parts. As a result, when one of the brothers becomes emotionally engaged to a woman, the relationship between the brothers is destroyed.
One of David Cronenberg’s greatest films, it earned 10 Genie Awards for the best in Canadian cinema in 1989. Additionally, he was a successful actor, lending a distinctive voice to each of the Irons’ brothers. Despite the film’s unpleasant nature, it stands as one of the best Canadian horror films ever created.
10. The Fly (1986)
The Fly, David Cronenberg’s best horror film, was released in 1986. Jeff Goldblum plays a man who is slowly morphing into a human-fly hybrid in Cronenberg’s version of Vincent Price’s classic horror film.
Oscar for Best Makeup went to this film, David Cronenberg’s lone Oscar winner. With $60.6 million in box office sales and a 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it was also one of his best-reviewed films. The Fly is one of the greatest horror remakes ever made.