Though it may seem perverse to recommend a home video that takes domestic perversity as its theme, here’s an engrossing gross-out — early highbrow horror from the director of Crash. In Shivers (1975, Avalanche, R), the first of David Cronenberg’s feature-length Freudian nightmares, slimy phallic parasites savage a high-rise apartment and reduce their hosts to blood-drooling sex fiends.
Back in the early ’70s, with some University of Toronto student films and underground shorts behind him, the director spent three years asking the Canadian Film Development Corp. to fund his half-ironic genre flick. “It would have been easier to do a straight art film,” Cronenberg has said. Given his proposed production methods — he considered using live leeches — it’s hard to disagree. But finally, the CFDC helped finance the $180,000 (Canadian) movie, clearing the way for a groundbreaking cinema of science, sex, and goo. The performances are just as schlocky as the premise, but — as with Polanski’s horror kitsch or Warhol’s creep camp — the schlock deepens the scare. B