Tuesday, September 14, 2010


(David Cronenberg, 1977)
It's superficially derivative of Romero, The Crazies especially, and both Marilyn Chambers' phallic-armpit attacks and the scenes with people drooling shaving cream get pretty repetitive. But the inciting notion of newfangled plastic surgery techniques gone terribly, terribly awry is a classic Cronenberg conceit, delivered with an exceptionally deadpan comic touch that almost disappears into the menacingly sleazy atmosphere. The martial law narrative which ensues from the carnage is suitably dire and keeps things moving forward. While little in the way of acting is required by the material, what's there is impressively controlled and ably handled by the performers, including Chambers. And while Cronenberg would never be caught dead within a ten-mile radius of a positive social statement, here his pervasive neurotic body-horror is complicated as well as cruel, with countless skeevy guys underlining the theme of a woman alone in a man's world. After all, Chambers is spreading her meta-venereal plague with the aid of an invasively manufactured phallus, and if there remains a tinge of misogyny amid the misanthropy, you can't deny the compelling weirdness of this guy's exquisitely antisocial vision.

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