Frame of Mind: David Cronenberg

by James Jay Edwards

SpiderEven the slimiest of schlock filmmakers grows up eventually.  Aside from Drag Me to Hell, Sam Raimi hasn’t looked back towards his Evil Dead days since The Quick and the Dead.  Wes Craven took a break from making slasher movies to make his passion project Music of the Heart (with Meryl Streep and Angels Bassett, no less).  John Carpenter also put away the scary stuff long enough in the mid-eighties to direct Starman.  Even the goopiest of the goop directors, David Cronenberg, turned a corner and started making Oscar bait movies.  For Cronenberg, the transition film between the weird eXistenZ and the brilliant A History of Violence came in 2002 with his somewhere-in-between movie Spider.

by James Jay Edwards

CrashHere at FilmFracture, David Cronenberg’s movies have been so well-covered that his last name has actually found its way into our Microsoft Word dictionary.  From his first feature film Stereo to his experimental Cosmopolis, you could say that we are fans, at least of writing about his work if not of the work itself.  And this edition of Cinema Fearité adds one more title to the list; this week, we’re taking a look at Cronenberg’s most controversial film, his 1996 fetish thriller Crash.

by James Jay Edwards

The FlyHorror fans love to complain about remakes, but there are times when a re-imagining does actually surpass the original.  John Carpenter’s The Thing is a good example.  So is Chuck Russell’s The Blob.  Franck Khalfoun’s brutal interpretation of Maniac comes pretty close.  And, of course, David Cronenberg’s The Fly has to be in the conversation.  But hold up…because the original 1958 version of The Fly is pretty hard to beat.

by James Jay Edwards

StereoIt’s always fun to look back at an important and influential filmmaker’s early work.  Whether it’s revisiting the old films of Hollywood royalty, such as George Lucas’ THX 1138 or Steven Spielberg’s Duel, or checking out the initial projects of genre icons, like John Carpenter’s Dark Star or Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left, seeing the visions of developing artists never disappoints.  One of these early pictures that set the stage for a successful film career is the first film by horror legend David Cronenberg, an artsy little science fiction shocker made in 1969 called Stereo.

by James Jay Edwards

eXistenZDavid Cronenberg successfully transitioned from low-budget sci-fi horror to “legitimate” filmmaking with A History of Violence in 2005.  Although Cronenberg is now known as a big Hollywood moviemaker with reputable films like Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method on his resume, horror fans will always remember the man for his early films, slimy science fiction body-horror movies like The Brood and Scanners.  The last really weird movie he made, in 1999, was eXistenZ.

by James Jay Edwards

ScannersHollywood lost yet another legend last week when special effects makeup guru Dick Smith passed away at the age of 92.  Smith was behind the effects makeup of some of the most important films in cinematic history, including The Godfather (and The Godfather: Part II), The Exorcist, and Taxi Driver.  Unlike many unsung makeup artists, Smith was highly recognized for his talent, winning an Academy Award for his work on Amadeus as well as receiving a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2011.  In spite of all of his big-name credits, Smith still did plenty of small budget movies; he was behind the effects on horror classics like Ghost Story, Spasms, and The Sentinel.  While balancing his time between Oscar bait films and schlock b-movies, Smith contributed one of the most jaw-dropping moments in horror history with his work on David Cronenberg’s influential 1981 sci-fi thriller Scanners.

by James Jay Edwards

David Cronenberg's VideodromeIn the early nineteen eighties, with the slasher movie craze in full effect, a handful of directors were already trying to break the horror movie mold.  John Carpenter, the man who ushered in the golden age of the slasher movie with Halloween, was remaking Howard Hawks’ The Thing.  Tobe Hooper was trading in serial killers for supernatural terror with Poltergeist.  And then, there was David Cronenberg.  Always a purveyor of an artful mix of both science fiction and horror, Cronenberg followed up his breakthrough film, Scanners, with the equally strange Videodrome in 1983.

by Kathryn Schroeder

Robert Pattinson (left) stars as “Eric Packer” and Sarah Gadon stars as “Elise Shifrin” in the upcoming release of Entertainment One’s COSMOPOLISRobert Pattinson smells like sex...that is what director David Cronenberg makes clear in Cosmopolis, his new film starring Robert Pattinson as the paranoid corporate tycoon Eric Packer who is destined to fall prey to his own created schizoid demise.  Adapted from the highly acclaimed novel "Cosmopolis" by Paulo Branco, Cronenberg's screen adaptation pits Pattinson against his own known screen persona, the vampire, baiting him to come forth and prove he is more than a cool and distant undead male desperately seeking affection and empathy for his cruel deeds.  But Pattinson's Eric is exactly the same typographical character in Cosmopolis; the only difference being his thirst is not for blood but for money, security, and power.

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