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I dislike "The Dead Zone", "eXistenZ", "Naked Lunch", "Crash", "Spider", and "A History of Violence".

I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this after hearing you say that you do like his early "horror" films. Excluding The Dead Zone, these five films do what his early films do far more effectively.

But they don't. Or, at least, to my eyes they don't. Those early horror films, while decidedly juvenile in nature, possess an essential power and verve that those later, seemingly more accomplished films lack. Cronenberg used to be the most interesting genre director out there, but he no longer surprises or frightens me.

"eXistenZ" is pretty much "Videodrome" revisited but without the visual flair or the clever dialogue; Both "Naked Lunch" and "Crash" are flatly directed adaptations of unfilmable novels ("Crash" says all it has to say in its first twenty minutes and then meanders on to its pointless end); "Spider" resembles any number of the drab made-for-British-TV kitchen sink dramas that I grew up with; while "A History of Violence" makes a number of obvious points and looks like nothing more than a poor man's "Blue Velvet".

We are part of the generation in which the image has triumphed over the word, when the visual is dominant over the verbal and where entertainment drowns out exposition. We may go so far as to claim that we live in an age of the image which is also the age of anti-word and potentially is the age of the lie. ~ Os Guiness

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)

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And if the Splat Pack's goal is to see who can outdo the other guy in how to best rip a human body apart, I need to be aware of who these guys are and probably should avoid their films altogether. I saw the word "gorno," for what this group is doing. Eeh -- that's not something I want to be known for supporting.

There is an interesting line between gorno and horror that has some substantial merit, and the recent book Shocking Representations does a good job at establishing where this line starts and stops. It is a fairly technical book, that attempts to triangulate the horror genre, film theory, and trauma studies, but the payoff is massively interesting and persuasive.

He covers Franju, Powell, Kaneto, Craven, and Cronenberg. There are a lot of films in here, Stef, that may interest you. Things like Michael Powell's Peeping Tom or Franju's Eyes Without a Face.

Edited by MLeary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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I dislike "The Dead Zone", "eXistenZ", "Naked Lunch", "Crash", "Spider", and "A History of Violence". I have never seen "Fast Company" or Cronenberg's TV movie "M Butterfly".

Another horror film that really should have been on my list of favourites is Jodorowsky's "Santa Sangre".

What do you dislike about The Dead Zone? I happened to watch it again last night and think it fits very well with Cronenberg's themes even though he was a hired hand. The film is incredibly sad and I also think it's Walken's best performance (well, excluding Annie Hall).

I agree with you about Santa Sangre. I heard rumors that Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain will be coming to DVD this year, that would be my most anticipated by far if the rumor is true.

Stealing! How could you? Haven't you learned anything from that guy who gives those sermons at church? Captain whats-his-name.

- Homer

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What do you dislike about The Dead Zone? I happened to watch it again last night and think it fits very well with Cronenberg's themes even though he was a hired hand. The film is incredibly sad and I also think it's Walken's best performance (well, excluding Annie Hall).

I don't actually think that there's anything particularly wrong with it as such; I just don't find it as innovative or as interesting as Cronenberg's other early horrors. "Stereo" and "Crimes of the Future" may have more in common with Andy Warhol than George A. Romero, but they still express Cronenberg's nihilistic worldview and deal with "future shock" and "body horror"; "The Dead Zone" breaks that mould somewhat and looks more like a regular horror movie. After "Videodrome" was released, a lot of horror film geeks - myself included - were very excited to see what Cronenberg would come up with next, but what we got was a fairly low key adaptation of a Stephen King novel (well, someone swallowing a pair of scissors is low key for Cronenberg).

At the time, we geeks viewed King as the kiss of death for splatter movie directors. Romero had gone from "Dawn of the Dead" to "Creepshow", Tobe Hooper had gone from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" to "Salems Lot", and John Carpenter had gone from "The Thing" to "Christine" (I regard "Christine" as the beginning of the end for Carpenter). The exception, of course, was Brian DePalma whose "Carrie" remains one of the great American horror movies. Sissy Spacek's performance is simply extraordinary.

Trivia: Before "Carrie" was released and Spacek made it big, Cronenberg tried to get her for the part of Rose in "Rabid".

One other thing: I had made a point of reading King's novel just prior to seeing "The Dead Zone" and the novel is superior in just about every way. I'm not exactly clear why Cronenberg jettisoned King's concept of what the dead zone actually is; it's quite a spooky little idea in the book.

We are part of the generation in which the image has triumphed over the word, when the visual is dominant over the verbal and where entertainment drowns out exposition. We may go so far as to claim that we live in an age of the image which is also the age of anti-word and potentially is the age of the lie. ~ Os Guiness

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)

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  • 11 months later...

Wow. A Region 2 Santa Sangre starts around $24.

Is that the only way to see it?

-s.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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...and John Carpenter had gone from "The Thing" to "Christine" (I regard "Christine" as the beginning of the end for Carpenter)...

It took me a year to notice this comment, but I agree completely.

John Carpenter's earlier work -- the Thing, the Fog and Assault on Precinct 13 especially -- are some of my favorite movies. I always forget he directed Christine; it's probably because he hasn't made much worth watching since (with the incredibly fun They Live and Big Trouble in Little China being the exception...but they're not really horror, anyway).

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Wow. A Region 2 Santa Sangre starts around $24.

Is that the only way to see it?

-s.

"Santa Sangre" was recently reissued with a ton of DVD extras - hence the silly price. Funny thing: I was only thinking about this movie the other day (I was trying to recall if there is anything in it that I would find objectionable as a Christian).

...and John Carpenter had gone from "The Thing" to "Christine" (I regard "Christine" as the beginning of the end for Carpenter)...

It took me a year to notice this comment, but I agree completely.

John Carpenter's earlier work -- the Thing, the Fog and Assault on Precinct 13 especially -- are some of my favorite movies. I always forget he directed Christine; it's probably because he hasn't made much worth watching since (with the incredibly fun They Live and Big Trouble in Little China being the exception...but they're not really horror, anyway).

"Assault on Precinct 13" is Carpenter's best film, in my view. I love it! "The Fog" is actually a bit of a mess (the plot makes no sense) but when it comes to atmosphere, it's right up there with the ghost stories of M. R. James. I personally don't care for "They Live" and "Big Trouble in Little China".

Did you know that Debra Hill has passed away? She died of cancer in 2005. I only found this out recently. She still pops up on an awful lot of DVD extras.

Edited by The Invisible Man

We are part of the generation in which the image has triumphed over the word, when the visual is dominant over the verbal and where entertainment drowns out exposition. We may go so far as to claim that we live in an age of the image which is also the age of anti-word and potentially is the age of the lie. ~ Os Guiness

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)

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