I’m just going to come right out and say the best thing about Shivers is that it was David Cronenberg’s first feature directing gig and he would go on to make incredible movies like The Dead Zone, The Fly and so much more. Shivers, on the other hand, is fairly terrible.
Oh, I suppose there is some sort of subtext here about the dangers of promiscuity. I mean, the movie opens with a juxtaposition of scenes, a young couple looking to move into the swank building and inside the building James Lipton of Inside the Actor’s Studio is raping and killing a school girl. It turns out that James, or rather Dr. Emil Hobbes, is part of a team working on using parasites as organ replacements, or something. Anyway, he’s been testing it on this girl, who it turns out is very popular among the other tenants.
James Emil has discovered that the parasite is winning or taking over, so he isn’t really killing her but killing the parasite. Her sleeping around has passed the parasite on to others, and before long we’ve got an outbreak.
People die, sometimes grossly, and others are just hosts for parasites, such as the one that crawls into a bathing woman’s vajayjay.
Despite all that, the acting is bad and the special effects often look… well… special. Imagine that the second time I wrote “special” is was done in a very condescending and yet gentle manner.
Look, they can’t all be winners, and Cronenberg has plenty of those, this just isn’t one. If for some reason you feel like tracking down a copy to watch, you might find it under one of its alternate titles: The Parasite Murders, They Came from Within, or Frissons.