Shivers (1975)

shivers poster 1975 movie they came from within cronenberg
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Creepy concept, some shocking visuals for the time

Low budget, kind of devolves by the end of the film

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Shivers

Studio: Cinépix Film Properties Inc.

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  October 10, 1975

MPAA Rating:  R

shivers std alan migicovsky susan petrie cronenberg

What’s the matter? STD got your tongue?

At an exclusive, all-inclusive condo outside of Montreal, a doctor named Hobbes (Fred Doederlein) has created something he shouldn’t have.  Now, something has been unleashed at Starliner Island that can turn even the most mild-mannered man or woman into an unstoppable horror.  Dr. Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton) finds something is wrong with the people of the resort, but time to find the cure could be running out.  The sickness is spreading and the danger is growing…it is a feast of the flesh!

Written and directed by David Cronenberg, Shivers is also known as They Came from Within and The Parasite Murders among other titles.  The film is the first major film of Cronenberg and received controversy when it was criticized for receiving government funding for its production.  The film was panned upon its released but has gained a cult following over the years as Cronenberg’s popularity rose.

shivers dr attacks girl fred doederlein

Seems like everyone is getting in on this scene…

I saw Shivers when I was way too young.  It was on an over-the-air TV channel after midnight and hacked to pieces, but I remember it still felt “dangerous”.  The movie’s sexual nature and the horrors of AIDS in the ’80s helped made the film memorable…and to me, Shivers is a solid horror film.

The plot really plays upon the fears of STDs which is why the movie got better over time.  The “free love” of the ’60s launched a horror that Cronenberg writes to in this film.  The opening scene with the doctor and girl contrasted with the yuppies drives home the point…what goes on behind closed doors bursts out into the public…in that sense, Shivers was ahead of its time.

shivers lesbian scene barbara steele susan petrie kiss

Everybody gets it on!

The cast is rather blasé.  The lead Paul Hampton really doesn’t develop much as a lead and plays a very generic doctor.  Canadian star Joe Silver has a small role in the movie as the doctor who gets the explain what is going on and Lynn Lowry plays the nurse who just keeps walking into trouble.  The trio of infected Nicholas (Allan Kolman), his wife Janine (Susan Petrie), and Betts (scream-queen Barbara Steele) is kind of interesting and could have been a whole movie…I particularly like the bit players in the movie that get sucked into the parasite orgy through encounters.

The movie is rather cheaply made, but Cronenberg does an effective job with what he has.  The little slugs that somehow can jump, sometimes burn, and latch on to their victims resemble the monsters in later films like Slither (which borrows a few scenes from here) and Night of the Creeps…it would have been interesting how the filmed would have looked with a bigger budget, but its low-cost also amplifies the horror.

shivers 1975 pool orgy scene paul hampton std cronenberg

Not the best time for a swim

Shivers is a must for Cronenberg fans and unfortunately, the movie doesn’t seem to be treated as well as some of his other films.  Cronenberg followed Shivers with a similarly themed movie called Rabid which also had a sexually transmitted disease run rampant (and the benefit of porn star Marilyn Chambers as the lead)…but I actually like Shivers a bit more.  Shivers borders on making you feel a bit dirty when watching it…but that is half its joy.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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