For fans of eighties cinema, Mill Creek Entertainment offers up a collection of eight noteworthy eighties movies on DVD for the more cost conscious collector. Among the eight films in the collection is 1990’s “Flatliners.” The David Cronenberg supernatural drama about a group of medical students exploring the effects of near death experiences stars Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and Julia Roberts, respectively. James Woods and Robert Downey Jr. co-star in the 1989 drama “True Believer,” about an embittered lawyer who re-opens an old murder case with a young lawyer, unraveling a web of corruption, and conspiracies.
David Cronenberg’s cinematic commentary on the power of media and how the media eventually controls you in ways you’re never quite cognizant of still rings true today. Even though “Videodrome” was more aimed toward the idea of television and our fascination with violence and human misery, Cronenberg’s thriller is still incredibly volatile in an age where humanity does nothing but stare at glowing screens zipping through a ton of data that eventually begin to depict how we live our lives. James Woods plays Max Renn, the owner of a porn television station who also has a penchant for sadism during sex. When he’s introduced to a television frequency called “Videodrome,” he begins to form a fascination with the footage of people being tortured, victimized, and raped.
While 1958’s Universal horror film “The Fly” was in fact a truly creepy and bleak horror drama with little to no story elements that signaled a clear cut resolution for anyone that would ensure a life of sanity, it almost seemed like a film that held unrealized potential. The story itself was much too ahead of its time for the fifties and could have given us something more. It’s a classic, but not one that gives a hundred percent. Cue David Cronenberg who had the foresight to realize the almost Lovecraftian potential of the story and transformed a creature feature in to a rather brilliant and incredibly iconic horror drama that mixed elements of Lovecraft, Giger, his own surreal craftsmanship, along with a hint of Frankenstein for good measure.
Going by a slew of alternate titles, “Shivers” is probably one of the most intense bits of dark horror comedy I’ve ever seen with Director David Cronenberg presenting a premise that is gutsier than most independent films I’ve ever seen. Cronenberg’s horror film is a study of sexual demonizing, and is a movie that only could have blossomed from the seventies. It was a time where puritanical America was suddenly introduced to a range of open sexual exploration and an unabashed orgy of controversy and backlash from hold outs who watched free love, pornography burst into the mainstream, and the celebration of homosexuality.
I’m not–a fan of Cronenberg. Yes, I admit it, and no I will not turn in my lifetime membership card, I am a film buff through and through, bitch. As the saying goes, “those who don’t remember the past, are doomed to relive it”. The question is, can we ever leave behind a violent past, or are we doomed to relive it? And does violence in any form ever go away? I was not expecting anything in particular with this film, but I was expecting a bad film. Surprisingly though, this is not a bad film. In fact it’s a great film, and at many times an excellent examination of violence as a concept and as an everyday aspect of our lives. Cronenberg’s direction is on the mark. If you’re expecting an action thriller with gunfights, and fist fights, and sex, well–there’s some of that, but it’s rare, honestly. What you will get though is a thorough, engrossing, and tight explanation on violence, and the cyclical nature of it.