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They Came From Within (1975) & Rabid (1977): An Infectious Double Feature


David Cronenberg’s long illustrious career began with two infection films in the mid to late 1970s, ‘They Came From Within,’ and ‘Rabid’.  Before solidifying himself as the master of abnormal psychedelic horror, Cronenberg released two features exploring the nature of highly contagious, sexual parasites.  Although ‘Rabid,’ and ‘They Came From Within,’ are early pictures, the perverse themes of abnormality and infection are undoubtedly present, paving the way for Cronenberg’s later masterpieces, like ‘Videodrome,’ ‘Scanners,’ or ‘Dead Ringers’.  What makes these early films crucial viewings, are the perspective they offer in analyzing the filmmaker’s growth through the years, existing as a starting point for a long fascination with the bizarre in every day life.

Shivers 1975

Both films follow a rampant disease; ‘Shivers,’ through an island apartment complex, and ‘Rabid,’ through the streets of Montreal, connecting both pictures almost as installments of one larger work.  Although underlying messages concerning AIDS or general venereal disease are often attributed to this early Cronenberg duo, the filmmaker has stated that he considers the works to be more political.  Similar to Romero’s Living Dead series, ‘Rabid,’ and ‘They Came From Within,’ can be seen as sociological statements about a depraved society that has lost touch with itself.  But this isn’t to say that Cronenberg’s works are mere zombie films, because their peculiarities quarantine these works into a genre of their own.


Cronenberg’s filmography is best viewed chronologically, offering a clear development of his craft.  It isn’t difficult to find specifics from earlier films reappearing as main concepts for later works; even the non-horror pictures follow definite trends.  Assuredly you’ve seen at least one of David Cronenberg’s films, and if unaware with his thoroughly weird career, ‘Rabid,’ and ‘They Came From Within,’ are the perfect beginning to exploring one of the most original living filmmakers today.  Read detailed analyses of both films at Seance of Cinema.




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