(David Cronenberg, 1979)
OK - ever read any Philip K. Dick? One of his novels is called "Clans of the Alphane Moon," which on one level is an allegory about psychiatric disorders but in the main is a book about this detective in outer space whose wife is a total bitch! No way to put a positive ideological spin on that one either, but also no getting around that the man was a brilliant, eccentric visionary who could spin gold out of that kind of trash. With this film - although far from his best work -Cronenberg took a big step toward Dick's league. Same shit going on here - the viciously contrarian self-help mutation satire is a mere sidebar to the impassioned, delirious estranged-wife-as-monster misogyny, and Art Hindle's bland normality leaves no room for self-criticism either. We're just trapped in a room with this raging divorcee, rubbing our noses in his inchoate, flesh-rendingly hateful metaphors, and because he happens to also be some kind of genius, his imagery gets under your skin and the film generates tons of horrific impact. Howard Shore's music is like fingernails on a blackboard, and the devious shock cuts are no more or less unnerving than what lies lingering in plain view. If it's frequently horrifying for all the wrong reasons, well, at least it makes art out of it.