Film / Shivers

Dr. Emil Hobbes has spent his career developing parasites for use in organ transplants. Believing that humanity has become over-rational and has lost contact with its more primal urges, he ultimately develops an organism that acts as a combination of aphrodisiac and venereal disease. As a result, everyone with the parasite is consumed by uncontrollable sexual urges, spreading the parasite through the slightest sexual contact. When the parasite inevitably gets free, it soon infects an apartment building.

This being a David Cronenberg film, you know things are going to get gross in a hurry.

Shivers (1975), also known as Orgy of the Blood Parasites, The Parasite Murders, They Came From Within, and Frissons, is a horror film by David Cronenberg, his first feature film, and embodies many of the Body Horror concepts he would continue to explore in future films with a wide spectrum of subtlety. It stars Fred Doederlin, Paul Hampton, and Lynn Lowry.

Not to be confused with the video game of the same name.

This film contains examples of:

  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Dr. Saint-Luke is infected by the end, though Cronenbergs himself considers this to be a happy ending.
  • Body Horror: The parasites themselves.
  • Creator Cameo: Cronenberg appears briefly as an infectee.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The film takes place in 1975, and refers to The '70s sex craze in North America. What makes it Harsher in Hindsight is that the AIDS epidemic followed in the The '80s, so the film is actually prescient.
  • Downer Ending: The film ends with the parasites spreading beyond the apartment building and possibly going global.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Considering everyone in Montreal are already dead-eyed zombies, some think the ending is a happy one. invoked
  • Fan Disservice: Only Cronenberg can make a lust plague completely unsexy. A memorable moment is the laundry woman, after being infected, reappears peering through her door, and moans at a delivery man, "I'm hungry.... I'm hungry.... I'm hungry... for love!"
  • Freud Was Right: The parasites are deliberately made to resemble penises. invoked
  • Gone Horribly Right: Hobbes' aphrodisiac parasites work a little too well.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: Several of the alternate titles come off like this.
  • Les Yay: invoked "Let's kiss, let's kiss... Make love to me..."
  • Lolicon: Hobbes, whose mistress Annabelle is seventeen at the time of her death. He met her when she was twelve, and was caught "checking her for breast cancer" in the faculty lounge.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Hobbes establishes the template for doctor-types in Cronenberg movies.
  • Murder-Suicide: When Hobbes sees the results of his lust parasites, he kills his mistress (Patient Zero) and then himself.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The infectees are essentially sex zombies, though not undead, since they can be killed normally.
  • Not What It Looks Like: A meta-example intended for the audience: in the opening of the film, an old man is violently attacking a young college age woman, and after he knocks her out, he duct tapes her mouth and puts her on a table. He then rips off her shirt, exposing her breasts. He takes off his own shirt, then cuts her open, and puts acid inside her before slitting his own throat. It's Dr. Hobbes desperately trying to kill the parasite inside her, and preventing it from getting him as a new host.
  • Parasite Zombie: The Lust Parasites drive their victims to mindless sexual behavior in order to spread itself further.
  • Patient Zero: Hobbes first infects his mistress with the lust parasites. She then spreads them to everyone else in the building.
  • Parental Incest: Dr. Saint-Luke encounters a bearded man and a young blonde woman in his apartment. He introduces her as his daughter, and starts making out with her.
  • The Plague: The parasites spread quickly throughout an apartment building.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: Guess.
  • The '70s: Very much a period piece now.
  • The Swarm