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 Watching Movies Alone with crumbsroom 
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Stephen Lack is indeed terrible, but for me, it's the earliest that he really nails that cold, sterile atmosphere. Shivers and Rabid a bit of that, but The Brood for all its thematic goodness feels kind of clumsy while Scanners seems much more in control of its tone. Ironside and McGoohan don't hurt either. It lacks the intelligence of those movies (maybe not Rabid), but if I wanted depth I'd just watch Videodrome. *raises eyebrows sinisterly*

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Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:12 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:
Considering the time, it's possible that Cronenberg is playing somewhat on fears regarding homosexuality, but it is more about how he presents these 'taboo's' to the audience that I think is important. They lack the aggression or violence implicit in the other scenes, such as the outright assaults, degradation and violence that we see committed upon children and relatives, yet are still recoiled from equally by those characters who are frightened of infection.


But that's exactly what I find problematic. Essentially harmless, consensual gay acts are grouped with rape, incest, and other dangerous/abusive sexual acts. The problem is that, in the context of the film, a consensual gay kiss is just as dangerous as a rape. Even independent of the sexual repression of the main characters, we as the audience are able to see this "objectively" as it is presented in the film.

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It becomes irrelevant what they are doing specifically. All that the characters know is that all of it is to be avoided and hidden from.
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And in the context of the film, they are completely correct in doing so. But there's no distinction between sexual acts that are harmless (ie homosexuality) and those that are (ie rape/incest). I think that what I'm taking issue with is the lack of distinction between what the characters are meant to fear and what the audience is meant to fear. The characters leave the towers looking content, but we know from the radio at the end that they have gone out to commit violent sexual assaults. I think that any theme about sexual repression or fear gets lost and/or muddled in the presentation.


Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:30 pm
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Rock wrote:
Stephen Lack is indeed terrible, but for me, it's the earliest that he really nails that cold, sterile atmosphere. Shivers and Rabid a bit of that, but The Brood for all its thematic goodness feels kind of clumsy while Scanners seems much more in control of its tone. Ironside and McGoohan don't hurt either. It lacks the intelligence of those movies (maybe not Rabid), but if I wanted depth I'd just watch Videodrome. *raises eyebrows sinisterly*

I guess I thought it was just sorta all over the place, poorly structured and not very interesting outside of its central trick. One of the hallmarks of Cronenberg's work is how his films evolve over the course of their run-time, and I didn't think this evolved at all.
We just got a nice long look at Shivers and we see how "placid" the movie is in the beginning and how bat-shit crazy it is by the end. Don't have to tell anyone about A History Of Violence and how wildly that movie changes. The Fly which is kinda boring in the beginning (totally on purpose), where Videodrome goes, Existenz, A Simple Method is a great example, I could go on and on about how his movies are very intentionally structured. But Scanners just seemed like an idea that he really didn't have a destination for, didn't know where to take it, so it just kinda is this messy, kinda half-baked thing. With Stephen Lack.


Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:36 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

But that's exactly what I find problematic. Essentially harmless, consensual gay acts are grouped with rape, incest, and other dangerous/abusive sexual acts. The problem is that, in the context of the film, a consensual gay kiss is just as dangerous as a rape. Even independent of the sexual repression of the main characters, we as the audience are able to see this "objectively" as it is presented in the film.

I don't think that's how I saw it at all. The acts aren't equated, nowhere in the film is the disembowelment of the 12 year-old girl EQUATED with people having sex outside of their marriages or having a homosexual experience, they are all things that are considered to be deviant from the norm, people, due to the parasites, discovering their deviations from the "norm" and being totally subjugated to them. I read it as the sexual release of the person who killed the girl was that that was what was inside of him, just as for those two men, what was inside of them was homosexuality. Which in 1975, deviated from the "norm" and was a deviation for those men. Not equated to rape or murder.


Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:41 am
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Wooley wrote:
I don't think that's how I saw it at all. The acts aren't equated, nowhere in the film is the disembowelment of the 12 year-old girl EQUATED with people having sex outside of their marriages or having a homosexual experience


They are equated by virtue of the fact that they all have the same end result and danger. They may be less disturbing manifestations of the danger, but they are dangerous nonetheless. We don't see the same type of innocuous heterosexuality.

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they are all things that are considered to be deviant from the norm, people, due to the parasites, discovering their deviations from the "norm" and being totally subjugated to them.


And this is where the film just doesn't work well for me. Are these actually peoples' repressed desires coming out? If so, it fails by virtue of the presentation of these behaviors. A building full of people letting loose and not a single man takes off his pants? The parasites are spread by genital or mouth contact, and yet the most common thing that happens is that women take off their shirts? The pieces simply don't come together to make anything coherent. There's a gap between concept and execution. And we can blame it on the strong hand of studios/producers, the tropes of horror, or whatever, but it doesn't change what I find to be a fundamental flaw.


Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:47 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
We don't see the same type of innocuous heterosexuality.


While I can't say I'm entirely sure what you mean by a lack of innocuous heterosexuality, since the film makes a point to treat literally all sexuality as a terror, there is this...

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Paul Hampton is resisting, as should be expected in this film, but the moments leading up to it matter. As she turns to stare at him, realizing she can finally seize her moment after being entirely ignored by him throughout the whole film, the scene is played almost as romance, no matter how hard he flails away from it. The result, he too becomes one of the infected, and whatever rift that has separated them has been mended by the final scene of them driving away in the car.

So where has this 'awakening' taken the characters. It has led them towards carnal violence, the shattering of sexual taboos (some which should be taboos, others which should not be, as in homosexuality) and in at least this one case, possibly a new beginning for a dying relationship. It has also (arguably) led the wife of the initially infected man (who is painted as being a shitty husband even before the movie began) towards what is possibly a better more compatible partner in Barbara Steele, regardless of the fact that she is also a woman.

Cronenberg's ambivalence towards the moral implications of what we've seen seems to be the point. This of course doesn't lead to him having created his most articulate film, but the fact that here was a guy making low budget horror films which generally were expected to have clean delineations between good and evil, and not even seeming to take any particular stand at all amongst all of the carnage he ends up creating on screen, is what allows the movie to unsettle. Is the film pro sex, or anti sex? I honestly don't know. Are the infected better off once they just get with the program? That argument can probably be made since the only ones shown not to be enjoying themselves over the course of the film are those who are fighting off the parasites. They are all mostly empty vessels. Much like Invasion of the Body Snatchers where those who have been 'snatched' extol the virtues of having their fears and anxieties and ultimately their personalities wiped from them, is Cronenberg presenting a similar thesis, just inverted? That these monsters of his creation put something missing back into people? Even if this comes with the caveat of unleashing toxic levels of perversion? Possibly, but it's hard to entirely say. But the fact that he leaves such a deliberately unpleasant question just lingering there, unanswered, makes the film hard to shake. At least for me.


Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:06 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
While I can't say I'm entirely sure what you mean by a lack of innocuous heterosexuality, since the film makes a point to treat literally all sexuality as a terror


What I meant by that phrase was that the heterosexual acts of infected toward the non-infected all have an element of violence. (I'm separating the actions of infected/non-infected from those of infected/infected). It's all men or women grabbing, attacking, overpowering. The threat is in the violence, though it is sexual violence. There is a huge difference between sex and a sexual assault. But the scenes of homosexual interaction are given no such violent accompaniment, and I don't think it was meant as some sort of compliment. Especially with the two men, the threat seems to be simply in the "deviant" homosexual overtures.

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So where has this 'awakening' taken the characters. It has led them towards carnal violence, the shattering of sexual taboos (some which should be taboos, others which should not be, as in homosexuality) and in at least this one case, possibly a new beginning for a dying relationship. It has also (arguably) led the wife of the initially infected man (who is painted as being a shitty husband even before the movie began) towards what is possibly a better more compatible partner in Barbara Steele, regardless of the fact that she is also a woman.

Are the infected better off once they just get with the program? That argument can probably be made since the only ones shown not to be enjoying themselves over the course of the film are those who are fighting off the parasites. They are all mostly empty vessels. That these monsters of his creation put something missing back into people? Even if this comes with the caveat of unleashing toxic levels of perversion? Possibly, but it's hard to entirely say. But the fact that he leaves such a deliberately unpleasant question just lingering there, unanswered, makes the film hard to shake. At least for me.


I guess I'd find this to be a more interesting question if rape/sexual assault (including children) and violence specifically directed at women weren't such a prominent feature of the "converted". The notion that men and women are being "freed" through sexual assault (and are seen afterward to be okay with sexual contact with their assailants) has some particularly nauseating implications. "He/she was in denial--he/she actually wanted it" is a pervasive and harmful notion that continues to haunt men and women to this day, and the film's lack of clarity in terms of where the desires of the people end and the persuasion of the parasites begins easily lends to a pretty gross reading that people fighting against being sexually assaulted are just repressing their desires.

How much are the infected still themselves, and how much are they simply empty puppets? The lack of explanation on that point makes it hard for me to respect what the film is showing. Because if the people are still themselves, then a little girl is just having a good time, "liberated" to the point that she's hanging out with the man who sexually assaulted her in an elevator.


Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:52 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
I guess I'd find this to be a more interesting question if rape/sexual assault (including children) and violence specifically directed at women weren't such a prominent feature of the "converted". The notion that men and women are being "freed" through sexual assault (and are seen afterward to be okay with sexual contact with their assailants) has some particularly nauseating implications.


The implications being nauseating, frightening, unacceptable etc is the correct response and the one I imagine anyone would agree with, including Cronenberg. And it isn't as if there any particular sense the director is advocating for any of these things, he is just creating a place where this is what it may look like in a world where the brakes of come off sexually. His absence when it comes to moralizing leads to a horror film about sexual appetite itself, not necessary about parasitic infections, or even the fear of becoming infected. Sex can be liberation. But in the same instance, sex can be violence and decay. The Starliner Towers are a petrie dish where he allows it to just spread in whatever direction it chooses to. Cronenberg chooses not to interfere.

I get what you are saying about the placid heterosexual encounters now, and why it makes the scene of the men in the hallway problematic for you. Is the film possibly preying upon an audience uncomfortable with the simple idea of homosexual sex, and that's enough to make them a threat, sure. I still don't find anything inherently problematic in the relationship between Steele and the wife though, before or after the infection.


Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:07 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
The implications being nauseating, frightening, unacceptable etc is the correct response and the one I imagine anyone would agree with, including Cronenberg. And it isn't as if there any particular sense the director is advocating for any of these things, he is just creating a place where this is what it may look like in a world where the brakes of come off sexually. His absence when it comes to moralizing leads to a horror film about sexual appetite itself, not necessary about parasitic infections, or even the fear of becoming infected. Sex can be liberation. But in the same instance, sex can be violence and decay. The Starliner Towers are a petrie dish where he allows it to just spread in whatever direction it chooses to. Cronenberg chooses not to interfere.


But this creates something of a contradiction for me, and it seems like the film wants to have things both ways. If people discard their inhibitions, that will look different for each person. It is a complete fallacy to assume that deep down everyone wants to have sex with everyone else. Some people are, by nature, bisexual or heterosexual or homosexual, or asexual, or attracted to older or younger people, or interested in any range of sexual acts or relations. It doesn't make sense to me that most people, freed of inhibitions, would want to have sex with someone who assaulted them or just anyone walking by. So then are the parasites taking these people to a place of sexuality that is actually unnatural for them? If so, then no inhibitions are being cast aside, they are simply being chemically manipulated into "wanting" sex that they never actually wanted in the first place.

The film may not judge, necessarily, but it does curate the sexual acts shown and the bodies shown, and to me those decisions do carry a message. Why are there no male children seen later in the rampages? Why only girls? Why not a man assaulting a boy in an elevator? To me there is an unavoidably middle-aged straight male point of view to the whole affair and it undercuts the film from where I stand. "It's crazy guys! The sexual brakes are off! . . . Wait . . . no, Steve, put your pants back on. Tammy, take your top off. Susan, you're old, so we can be grossed out by the thought of you having sex, but we don't actually want to see your body. Mark, rip Ellen's shirt off."

A piece of art that handled this point a LOT better, in my opinion, is Octavia Butler's Clay's Ark because it actually explored the intersection between the "real" personality of the characters and the sexual drives unlocked by their infection.


Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:43 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

They are equated by virtue of the fact that they all have the same end result and danger. They may be less disturbing manifestations of the danger, but they are dangerous nonetheless. We don't see the same type of innocuous heterosexuality.



And this is where the film just doesn't work well for me. Are these actually peoples' repressed desires coming out? If so, it fails by virtue of the presentation of these behaviors. A building full of people letting loose and not a single man takes off his pants? The parasites are spread by genital or mouth contact, and yet the most common thing that happens is that women take off their shirts? The pieces simply don't come together to make anything coherent. There's a gap between concept and execution. And we can blame it on the strong hand of studios/producers, the tropes of horror, or whatever, but it doesn't change what I find to be a fundamental flaw.

Ok.


Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:50 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
But this creates something of a contradiction for me, and it seems like the film wants to have things both ways. If people discard their inhibitions, that will look different for each person. It is a complete fallacy to assume that deep down everyone wants to have sex with everyone else. Some people are, by nature, bisexual or heterosexual or homosexual, or asexual, or attracted to older or younger people, or interested in any range of sexual acts or relations. It doesn't make sense to me that most people, freed of inhibitions, would want to have sex with someone who assaulted them or just anyone walking by. So then are the parasites taking these people to a place of sexuality that is actually unnatural for them? If so, then no inhibitions are being cast aside, they are simply being chemically manipulated into "wanting" sex that they never actually wanted in the first place.


I'm generally fine with accepting any of these contradictions of yours since, as I stated initially, this isn't a film that I find to be thematically articulate in the manner we would later expect from Cronenberg. What you take issue you with, I overlook with the convenient excuse of him exagerating this philosophical threat in order to make what is ultimately a really silly monster movie. What I like about Shivers, is its willingness to address deeper idea of the darker side of human nature inside of a movie where it doesn't inherently fit, since it is simultaneously trying to pander to a midnight movie audience. It really doesn't entirely succeed on either front, but for me it is interesting on both. This is what I meant when I mentioned in an earlier thread that I like movies that feel incomplete, or are imperfect, or are just sketches of what might be better movies. There is a directness of expression in art that doesn't iron out all of the details. I'm pretty much just as happy with movies like this as I am with movies that have maybe overthought their concepts a bit. Maybe happier. I like the idea of artists shaking ideas out onto the table, and just going with what they find.

That being said, even though Shivers might not be the movie to be making the arguments to contradict your points above, I think a film could be entirely successful thematically, while rejecting your basic complaints that a contradiction is inherent in the basic ideas here. In regards to your notion that it really wouldn't be the characters actual sexual behavior if they have a parasite manipulating them chemically, the response to that would be that biology is already always manipulating us sexually. What is puberty other than a complete chemical and hormonal shock to the system? What is the reduced sexual drives of many people as they get older. It's always predominantly chemical, and a parasite that is introduced to the body to function as a new organ, could potentially be considered just as 'natural' a factor in determining sexuality as anything else.

As for your claim that their is a fallacy that people wouldn't be fucking absolutely everything if inhibitions we're dampened, while this is probably true, I don't think you should expect the sexual behavior of someone who has had societal, emotional and personal inhibitions entirely eroded, to have their sexual interests and behaviors to remain remotely consistent to what they were before. While most of us ultimately have a good sense of what our root sexuality is (whether that be homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, asexuality) societal pressure for us to put ourselves in boxes must have some pretty substantial affect on how we identify and behave in regards to our sexuality. I've known very straight identifying men who have found themselves in a situations where they engaged in a sexual act with a man, and they have left the situation wondering why they haven't tried that before. I've known gay men who professed that while they were still in the closet to have legitimate sexual desires for women, but when they finally came out, these fantasies towards women never reappeared. I myself, since I can't help hopelessly rebelling against any label one might place on me, balked at calling myself straight, preferring to consider myself an inactive bisexual. At least until an opportunity arose to prove this to be the case, and I was quick to find out, nope, I'm much more straight ahead heterosexual than I would admit to myself. Of course, you'd be right to say that Shivers doesn't really go in depth enough with any of its ideas or characters to absolve it entirely of the contraditions you are bothered by, but I don't think those contradictions are as set in stone as you are claiming here. And a later era Cronenberg could have probably handled them with better success.

Takoma1 wrote:
The film may not judge, necessarily, but it does curate the sexual acts shown and the bodies shown, and to me those decisions do carry a message. Why are there no male children seen later in the rampages? Why only girls? Why not a man assaulting a boy in an elevator? To me there is an unavoidably middle-aged straight male point of view to the whole affair and it undercuts the film from where I stand. "It's crazy guys! The sexual brakes are off! . . . Wait . . . no, Steve, put your pants back on. Tammy, take your top off. Susan, you're old, so we can be grossed out by the thought of you having sex, but we don't actually want to see your body. Mark, rip Ellen's shirt off."


I have to say I think you are over exaggerating the amount of nudity in this film a little bit. The great majority of those infected by parasites remain either entirely are partially clothed throughout the film. Is there more female nudity then male nudity? Definitely. But there is not full frontal nudity by either males or females in the film. Does this mean Shivers should be absolved from this double standard, especially considering the type of movie it is trying to be. Probably not. At least not entirely. They are fair enough complaints, even though I, like Janson, think that this has been a consistent problem with nearly all movies through the ages. So I have more of a complaint against how this has been an overarching issue throughout all of cinematic history to get too bothered by it manifesting in this one film in particular, regardless of the fact that this is a movie that should have pushed harder to equal that playing field (since it was clearly a movie attempting to break as many taboos as possible). Ridiculously, that taboo in particular would have landed the film an X rating, which was simply not going to fly considering it was a film produced by the Canadian government.

As for there not being any boys being abused in the film, I'm not sure about that either. The scene I mentioned with two kids being led around on leashes looked to me to be boys, but I couldn't be entirely sure. Even if I was correct about this though, I'm not sure how this should make the movie more palatable for anyone. The question instead is, how did that few seconds of film not tip the censors towards an X rating, like an appearance of Paul Hampton's cock surely would have done.

If I come across the movie you recommended, I will surely check it out.


Sun Aug 26, 2018 3:28 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
but for me it is interesting on both. This is what I meant when I mentioned in an earlier thread that I like movies that feel incomplete, or are imperfect, or are just sketches of what might be better movies. There is a directness of expression in art that doesn't iron out all of the details.


And that's fair enough. For me this was a film that went a bit past the point where I was willing to forgive the elements that bothered me, even with the parts that I liked or found interesting. While I'm mainly complaining about the film, I'm not totally down on it. I can see what other people would like about it and I can understand how some of the themes/ideas are interesting.

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In regards to your notion that it really wouldn't be the characters actual sexual behavior if they have a parasite manipulating them chemically, the response to that would be that biology is already always manipulating us sexually. What is puberty other than a complete chemical and hormonal shock to the system? What is the reduced sexual drives of many people as they get older. It's always predominantly chemical, and a parasite that is introduced to the body to function as a new organ, could potentially be considered just as 'natural' a factor in determining sexuality as anything else.


And this is a really cool idea. One of my friends recently mused on the fact that she's gotten a bit obsessed with the idea that she couldn't be sure how much of her affection for her child was largely driven by chemicals (woo Oxytocin!) and how much of it was affection for her child as a person. But my complaint was more about wanting to understand the degree to which the parasite was actually unlocking inhibitions and to what degree it was zombifying them. Think of the fungus that drives the ants to climb the highest branch, grab on, and sit and wait to die. Or the worm that drives crickets to literally drown themselves in a body of water. These aren't natural behaviors to those animals. And the question of whether these are natural/genuine behaviors or merely zombie actions matters to me. Maybe it doesn't matter to you and maybe it doesn't matter to the film, but I find it a sticking point in terms of how I process what I'm seeing.

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I've known very straight identifying men who have found themselves in a situations where they engaged in a sexual act with a man, and they have left the situation wondering why they haven't tried that before. . . Of course, you'd be right to say that Shivers doesn't really go in depth enough with any of its ideas or characters to absolve it entirely of the contraditions you are bothered by, but I don't think those contradictions are as set in stone as you are claiming here. And a later era Cronenberg could have probably handled them with better success.


This just goes back to what I'm saying above--are these deep desires, or just people acting as puppets? Not answering this makes the film slightly less interesting to me.

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I have to say I think you are over exaggerating the amount of nudity in this film a little bit. The great majority of those infected by parasites remain either entirely are partially clothed throughout the film. Is there more female nudity then male nudity? Definitely. But there is not full frontal nudity by either males or females in the film. Does this mean Shivers should be absolved from this double standard, especially considering the type of movie it is trying to be. Probably not. At least not entirely. They are fair enough complaints, even though I, like Janson, think that this has been a consistent problem with nearly all movies through the ages. So I have more of a complaint against how this has been an overarching issue throughout all of cinematic history to get too bothered by it manifesting in this one film in particular, regardless of the fact that this is a movie that should have pushed harder to equal that playing field (since it was clearly a movie attempting to break as many taboos as possible). Ridiculously, that taboo in particular would have landed the film an X rating, which was simply not going to fly considering it was a film produced by the Canadian government.

As for there not being any boys being abused in the film, I'm not sure about that either. The scene I mentioned with two kids being led around on leashes looked to me to be boys, but I couldn't be entirely sure. Even if I was correct about this though, I'm not sure how this should make the movie more palatable for anyone. The question instead is, how did that few seconds of film not tip the censors towards an X rating, like an appearance of Paul Hampton's cock surely would have done.

If I come across the movie you recommended, I will surely check it out.


I don't think I'm overestimating the nudity--a quick fast forward through the film showed the sequence from the beginning where the girl's shirt is ripped off (we later see her topless again in a long shot of a crime scene photo), the nurse undresses for her husband and as he admires her there are two different shots of her topless, at least twice there are prominently placed posters showing topless women hanging on the wall, the shirt that the wife wears later in the apartment is sheer enough that you can clearly see her breasts through it, when the couple gets pushed into the "orgy" there is a topless woman kissing another woman, as the doctor runs through the tower one of the women chasing him (who grabs the wooden slats) is topless, as the doctor goes through the halls a woman is being attacked by a man and she is topless (the doctor pulls the gun to help her and then just . . . . doesn't), the first time the doctor walks by the pool there are two women inside who are technically wearing shirts but they are so see-through that at first I thought they were simply topless, at the end in the pool a fully nude woman (who you see fully nude, albeit briefly) jumps in, as the doctor is kissed another fully nude woman jumps into the pool behind them (you see her for longer because it is slow-motioned). The only sexual acts with children involve grown men and teen or younger girls (the incestuous kiss and the little girl from the elevator). By contrast, the most I saw of any men was that we see a few men in bathing suits or in underwear.

I'm less forgiving of the nudity double standard precisely because this is a film about sex. It's one thing to have films where consensual sex involves naked women and mostly clothed men, but to have so much sexual violence directed from men to young women bothers me. I'm not over here rooting to have seen sexual violence against boys/young men. But it strikes me as odd that in a building with little girls and teenage girls I don't remember seeing a teenage boy. When I first saw the people on leashes in the hallway, I thought they were grown women, not children and even going back to rewatch it I'm not sure of their ages or genders because of the ambiguous haircuts and the angle at which they are shot. If you google (heaven help me) the name of the film and "children leashes", some sites refer to them as children, some as women, some as girls. There is an actress with distinctly red hair who would have been around 12 when the film was shot who is credited as "girl", and she's the only one I figured it could be out of the credited cast.

When I make this kind of criticism it isn't me saying that sexual violence against women/girls is taboo. Nor is it me saying that there has to be an equal amount of abuse of men/boys to make things "fair." But I am saying that when it comes to actually showing bodies and actually showing sexual acts involving children, I always want to know why it's in the film and how it is shown. I take issue, in a film that's having a conversation using sex as the language, with only showing female bodies. And I especially take issue with showing sexual acts involving young girls, as girls/teens are frequently over-sexualized in our society. And context saying that these acts are bad/disturbing isn't enough for me to feel okay about their inclusion.

Last note in this great wall of text: Clay's Ark is a novel, not a film. But it's a quick read (I think I read it in two days).


Sun Aug 26, 2018 6:40 am
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Wooley wrote:
I guess I thought it was just sorta all over the place, poorly structured and not very interesting outside of its central trick. One of the hallmarks of Cronenberg's work is how his films evolve over the course of their run-time, and I didn't think this evolved at all.
We just got a nice long look at Shivers and we see how "placid" the movie is in the beginning and how bat-shit crazy it is by the end. Don't have to tell anyone about A History Of Violence and how wildly that movie changes. The Fly which is kinda boring in the beginning (totally on purpose), where Videodrome goes, Existenz, A Simple Method is a great example, I could go on and on about how his movies are very intentionally structured. But Scanners just seemed like an idea that he really didn't have a destination for, didn't know where to take it, so it just kinda is this messy, kinda half-baked thing. With Stephen Lack.

I just gave the film a rewatch so I'm still grappling with my thoughts a bit, but I think I'll both agree and disagree with you here. The movie takes a structure of a conspiracy thriller so I'm not sure if calling it poorly structured is fair as those are convoluted by design. But I think you hit the nail on the head about why I don't like it more. The horror in Shivers, Videodrome, The Fly, etc all tie into the arcs of their main characters and you get an actual element of transformation and evolution as the film progresses, as well as a sense of what the film's themes mean on a human level. Scanners is much less successful at this. I think some of the ideas it deals with are interesting on a story level, but while Cronenberg said the movie was informed by adolescent power fantasies, I don't see that element of self-actualization present in the movie. A major reason for that is Stephen Lack's ability to evoke his character's growth (one could make the argument that his stilted acting is an expression of him grappling with his abilities, but the results on screen do him no favours), but the actors who are able to convey this element (like Robert Silverman's artist and of course Michael Ironside) are given less screentime. That being said, with that stew of ideas, the almost alien interiors of the corporate offices, the eerie Howard Shore score (and of course, the 'splodin' heads), it's the first Cronenberg film I find fully engaging on an aesthetic level.

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Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:10 am
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Here is the official moment this thread has jumped the shark. This 2004 vehicle for Corey Feldman's never-to-ever-happen comeback is actually pretty good. It would be easy to list what it does wrong, but it still wouldn't take away from the fact that it is frequently a lot of fun, and as derivative it is of better movies, it still manages to find its own legs to stand on. And Feldman, while clearly embarrassing himself as he can't help but do, still manages the best performance he's done since Stand By Me.

7.5/10

EDIT: Shit, it's the guy who did Timecrimes. It's hardly surprising then that it is good. Maybe I haven't jumped the shark after all. At least not until the next glowing review of a piece of shit.


Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:14 am
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Rock wrote:
I just gave the film a rewatch so I'm still grappling with my thoughts a bit, but I think I'll both agree and disagree with you here. The movie takes a structure of a conspiracy thriller so I'm not sure if calling it poorly structured is fair as those are convoluted by design. But I think you hit the nail on the head about why I don't like it more. The horror in Shivers, Videodrome, The Fly, etc all tie into the arcs of their main characters and you get an actual element of transformation and evolution as the film progresses, as well as a sense of what the film's themes mean on a human level. Scanners is much less successful at this. I think some of the ideas it deals with are interesting on a story level, but while Cronenberg said the movie was informed by adolescent power fantasies, I don't see that element of self-actualization present in the movie. A major reason for that is Stephen Lack's ability to evoke his character's growth (one could make the argument that his stilted acting is an expression of him grappling with his abilities, but the results on screen do him no favours), but the actors who are able to convey this element (like Robert Silverman's artist and of course Michael Ironside) are given less screentime. That being said, with that stew of ideas, the almost alien interiors of the corporate offices, the eerie Howard Shore score (and of course, the 'splodin' heads), it's the first Cronenberg film I find fully engaging on an aesthetic level.

Yeah, I hear ya. "Poorly structured" was probably not the best choice of phrase, since that has an actual meaning with us. What I mean is that it was not structured in a particular exciting or pleasing way, especially compared to his other films. And I think we seem to agree on that. If the movie had a mark, it misses it. Regarding the aesthetic aspect, though, you may be totally right there, I'll need to watch it again it's been a few years.


Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:42 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
EDIT: Shit, it's the guy who did Timecrimes. It's hardly surprising then that it is good. Maybe I haven't jumped the shark after all. At least not until the next glowing review of a piece of shit.
I think that's still shark under your water skis, haha. This guy only did the music for Timecrimes.

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Tue Aug 28, 2018 8:52 am
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Wooley wrote:
Yeah, I hear ya. "Poorly structured" was probably not the best choice of phrase, since that has an actual meaning with us. What I mean is that it was not structured in a particular exciting or pleasing way, especially compared to his other films. And I think we seem to agree on that. If the movie had a mark, it misses it. Regarding the aesthetic aspect, though, you may be totally right there, I'll need to watch it again it's been a few years.

I wouldn't tell you to prioritize a rewatch or anything (my opinion didn't change significantly with my rewatch), but if it's on TV or something it's worth giving another shot, as you might find some more things of value once you get around Stephen Lack's awfulness.

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Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:22 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I think that's still shark under your water skis, haha. This guy only did the music for Timecrimes.


Phew! For a second I thought my approval of a Corey Feldman movie had some legitimacy.


Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:00 pm
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A tale of complicated people and relationships told simply. Hints at emotional heartbreak and personal triumphs without wasting time ogling over them. Life doesn't stop for these moments long enough to hold onto, and neither does this movie. In some ways it is a strange movie for Stanley Kubrick to have so loudly championed, considering his deliberately methodical, overly self conscious style is the absolute antithesis of Claudia Weill's, but it also speaks to his deep understanding of the importance of quality filmmaking that steps around large budgets and professional technicians. This is so good at being unassumingly small, it's hard for me to be convinced it wasn't a Canadian production. If so, it would have been a film to stand alongside of Going Down the Road, as one of the best the country has produced. But since it is American, it seems to have instead simply fallen between the cracks and been forgotten.


Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:52 am
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How did you see that?

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Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:02 pm
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Rock wrote:
How did you see that?


I think I rented it at Bay Street. But if not, it was Eyesore.


Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:04 pm
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I just realized this movie is America when it is stuck in a post apocalyptic bunker, alone with itself.

I can't tell if this movie should be considered a cautionary tale of where America is headed, or a prophetic one of where America has already ended up.

So much yelling.


Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:45 pm
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Literally the loudest line ever.




Day grew on me a lot over the years. When I first saw it I found it pretty underwhelming and kind of hard to take with all that yelling, but it's dedication to its tone played better on rewatches. It's still the weakest of the "trilogy", but not by a whole lot in my humble opinion.

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Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:51 pm
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Rock wrote:
Literally the loudest line ever.




Day grew on me a lot over the years. When I first saw it I found it pretty underwhelming and kind of hard to take with all that yelling, but it's dedication to its tone played better on rewatches. It's still the weakest of the "trilogy", but not by a whole lot in my humble opinion.


I hated it on first watch, just like I did on my first of Dawn. I did learn to love it though. And on many less watches than it would take me to eventually (kinda) love Dawn.

Night ] Day ] Dawn *

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Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:57 pm
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Alright, I'm gonna put this in the October queue.
I thought this movie was absolutely shit (at least compared to it's two predecessors and the unofficial sequel), but it has been, I think, about 17 years since I've seen it.


Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:50 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:
I think I rented it at Bay Street. But if not, it was Eyesore.

I'm sensing late fees.


Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:24 am
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Rock wrote:
It's still the weakest of the "trilogy", but not by a whole lot in my humble opinion.

This is my view on it, but I've always liked the film. Whenever I go back to it, expecting to discover why I should hate it like everyone else, I just find more to love. But, sure, "weak" compared to Night and Dawn.


Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:28 am
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I don't know if it's because it's the "last" one in the "trilogy" or because it manages to sneak in some optimism at the end, but it's the one I felt most inclined to revisit after Romero's passing. If I may be so bold, here are some words I hammered out after that viewing.

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Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:13 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
A tale of complicated people and relationships told simply. Hints at emotional heartbreak and personal triumphs without wasting time ogling over them. Life doesn't stop for these moments long enough to hold onto, and neither does this movie.
Well said! Plus, seemingly effortless dialogue, and a beautiful performance by Mayron. I've had this forever, and you provided the push to finally watch it. Thank you!

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Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:08 pm
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Rock wrote:
I don't know if it's because it's the "last" one in the "trilogy" or because it manages to sneak in some optimism at the end, but it's the one I felt most inclined to revisit after Romero's passing. If I may be so bold, here are some words I hammered out after that viewing.


Your point of the whole film being a third act is exactly the appeal it has for me, and probably exactly what keeps so many from holding it at a distance. Most films would lead us towards the film's hysterical tone with back stories which would give a nuance to why everyone is acting like they do. That would dull the effect of what the movie is going for. This is a movie about what a societal melt down would look like, with civilizations back against the wall. Villains would already be emboldened to be caricatures of villainy. Heroes would already be resigned to their fate as second class citizens. Dawn begins similarly where it just drops you into the middle of newsroom chaos, but then it is kind by easing you into a moderately conventional plot arc. Day is anything but kind. It keeps you shackled in a world where narrative has devolved back to Year Zero. There is a threat beyond the gates and the world has become simply a matter of survival of the meanest. And loudest. Guns won't save you. Science won't save you. Love won't save you. Inevitably, all that can save you is to give up and escape.

And I'm not so sure I read the end as being terribly optimistic to me. That beach doesn't even offer the promise of strawberry daiquiris, and so by default would become my personal hell. I'd prefer the bunker.


Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:21 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Well said! Plus, seemingly effortless dialogue, and a beautiful performance by Mayron. I've had this forever, and you provided the push to finally watch it. Thank you!

    "I don't know why I like you."
    "Because you can tell me why you don't like me."


The movie has dozens of these perfect lines.


Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:22 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
I'm sensing late fees.


I'm the king of late fees.


Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:23 am
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If it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, this film would take a lifetime to read due to the emotional and strangely cathartic power it conveys throughout. Many of the segments had such great an impact on me that after I finished it for the first time, I simply stared off in silence for a few minutes as I tried to collect my thoughts. I'd like to describe one scene, but there's just way too many to choose from. I also feel like it's better to watch it with a fresh set of eyes. The documentary also contains many segments which any filmmaker would edit out such as moving the camera slightly by sneezing, adjusting the camera to get a better view of something, or tripping over something while she walks backwards with the camera. I feel like Johnson's decision to keep these shots in her film show that, while she's concerned with getting great angles and shots, she also wants to show the process she takes in lining up her shot.

9/10

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Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:50 am
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"You're in a lot of trouble, Torpedo Tits!"/10


Sun Sep 09, 2018 11:43 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
"You're in a lot of trouble, Torpedo Tits!"/10


For the uninitiated, this is a perfect score.


Sun Sep 09, 2018 11:46 am
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"You're in a lot of trouble, Torpedo Tits!"/10

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the phone, folks.

Is that.....Charlotte?


Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:39 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Is that.....Charlotte?


She might not include it on her resume, but she should be proud of her work here.


Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:46 am
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She might not include it on her resume, but she should be proud of her work here.

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I see. It also looks like she went into rehab immediately afterward.

Crumbs? I don't like at all what I'm reading about the fate of her face.


Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:13 am
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If we only knew the Marquis de Sade as well as his three-foot cock named Colin did, it's possible we might see him for the gentle and thoughtful man he really was. Also, he was half cocker spaniel. But don't judge.

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Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:00 am
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Oh, why did I click "Show"?

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Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:14 pm
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Ha! I've never heard of that but Roland Topor is a subject of much interest for me. Wrote The Tenant, designed Fantastic Planet, and played Renfield in Herzog's Nosferatu. The Criterion release of FP has some interesting vintage interviews he did. Weird/fascinating guy.

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Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:24 pm
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Rock wrote:
Oh, why did I click "Show"?


I would have preferred an image of Colin with his head bandaged after fucking a hole in a brick wall, but that didn't come in gif form.

You're welcome.


Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:46 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Ha! I've never heard of that but Roland Topor is a subject of much interest for me. Wrote The Tenant, designed Fantastic Planet, and played Renfield in Herzog's Nosferatu. The Criterion release of FP has some interesting vintage interviews he did. Weird/fascinating guy.


This has the same sort of alien quality that Fantastic Planet has, except with live actors wearing animal masks. And lobster sodomy.


Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:49 am
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And lobster sodomy.

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Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:40 pm
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I've been a big dummy about Scanners for many years. The only question that remains is if Stephen Lack's fucking terrible performance deserves a re-appraisal too.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:35 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:
I've been a big dummy about Scanners for many years. The only question that remains is if Stephen Lack's fucking terrible performance deserves a re-appraisal too.

As someone who half-assedly attempted to defend his performance after my initial viewing, I'm going to respond with a firm no. While I still like the movie, my last viewing confirmed that 90% of its problems are caused by his shite acting completely undermining the human element.

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Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:41 pm
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Rock wrote:
As someone who half-assedly attempted to defend his performance after my initial viewing, I'm going to respond with a firm no. While I still like the movie, my last viewing confirmed that 90% of its problems are caused by his shite acting completely undermining the human element.


Let me be clear, there is no debate about whether or not he is an unquestionably terrible actor. He is. What I am considering up for debate is how well that terrible performance plays into the movie. It is a deeply lonely film, and his blank portrayal of a man who never formed an identity feeds directly into this.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:00 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:

Let me be clear, there is no debate about whether or not he is an unquestionably terrible actor. He is. What I am considering up for debate is how well that terrible performance plays into the movie. It is a deeply lonely film, and his blank portrayal of a man who never formed an identity feeds directly into this.

I wish I could go there with you, but I watched this movie many times and the last time I just said, no, there is no context, there is no purpose, there is no craft in service to the themes there, the man simply cannot act. He was asked to give a flat performance perhaps but he did not have the ability to pull it off and instead comes off as an albatross to the film since he is such an integral part of it.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:05 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:

Let me be clear, there is no debate about whether or not he is an unquestionably terrible actor. He is. What I am considering up for debate is how well that terrible performance plays into the movie. It is a deeply lonely film, and his blank portrayal of a man who never formed an identity feeds directly into this.

I understand, and I think that's a similar argument to one I'd tried to make earlier. But while one could argue that his stiltedness is a way of showing discomfort with his new abilities, there isn't much consistency to how it shows up. Consider the scene where Patrick McGoohan tells him to use his powers on the man who can control his heartbeat. We get constipated grimacing followed abruptly by a completely hammy line delivery. And add to all the actual good actors who surround him (McGoohan and Ironside most obviously) he comes off like a talentless void, doing his darnedest to suck the effectiveness out the movie he's in. That the Cron is on his A-game stylistically and the other actors put in fine work is why he does not succeed.

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Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:06 pm
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Wooley wrote:
I wish I could go there with you, but I watched this movie many times and the last time I just said, no, there is no context, there is no purpose, there is no craft in service to the themes there, the man simply cannot act. He was asked to give a flat performance perhaps but he did not have the ability to pull it off and instead comes off as an albatross to the film since he is such an integral part of it.


I zero percent would blame anyone who feels he sinks the movie. He is clearly the sole reason I've held the movie at arms length for years as much as I've always liked it. And it is still at least a partial albatross for me as well. His acting is distractingly bad. But there are moments where on this viewing I actually found myself feeling for his completely empty performance. It is what drew me in to the emptiness of his character. It made me think about the movie in more empathatic ways, which I never have before.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:17 pm
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