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    Today, we’re celebrating horror maestro David Cronenberg’s seventy-fourth birthday with a look back at his brilliantly twisted oeuvre. Dedicate your afternoon to honoring the legendary Canadian filmmaker and artist, by revisiting a selection of essays, photo galleries, and videos exploring his classics—from Naked Lunch and Dead Ringers to Scanners, The Brood, and Videodrome.

    • First, Chris Rodley examines the genesis of Cronenberg’s adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch, describing the author’s impact as a “colonizing influence” on the director, who was once an aspiring writer. “From the outset, Burroughs’s influence was like a neurological connection,” writes Rodley in his essay “Naked Lunch: So Deep in My Heart That You’re Really a Part of Me,” which originally appeared in the 1992 book Everything Is Permitted: The Making of “Naked Lunch.” “Beyond its startling language and literary form,” Rodley notes, “beyond its ‘forbidden’ subject matter and obsessions (and sympathetic reaction to the repressive era in which it was written), the work spoke most immediately to Cronenberg’s viscera. More an infection than an influence.”



    • Then read Gary Indiana’s stimulating essay, Videodrome: The Slithery Sense of Unreality, which begins with a quotation from one of Cronenberg’s filmmaking forebears: “ ‘Eroticism,’ Luis Buñuel told an interviewer, ‘is a diabolic pleasure that is related to death and rotting flesh.’ ” And “no filmmaker conveys this idea with more ingenuity and macabre gusto,” Indiana continues, “than David Cronenberg, whose movies (hilariously, terrifyingly) illustrate the equation of penetration with contagion and infection.” Videodrome, he writes, “which gives the term open-minded an archly ironic meaning, is open-minded in the more familiar colloquial sense. [. . .] The apocalyptic premise, (beautifully) horrific images, and understated, sinister score by Howard Shore don’t at all disguise the intelligent, reflective approach Cronenberg takes in this vastly entertaining, funny, chillingly sexy meditation on mass media and its effects.”
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      • Watch a fascinating clip from Michael Lennick’s Criterion documentary, The “Scanners” Way, about the cerebral sci-fi mind-bender’s special effects—namely, how they were utilized to create the cult classic’s signature explosion.

      • See a gallery of the custom surgical implements Cronenberg had made for his chilling gynecological psychodrama Dead Ringers.

      • Finally, read Carrie Rickey’s exploration of 1979’s The Brood, Cronenberg’s demonic take on parenthood. “The Brood was released the same year as another film about a custody dispute, Kramer vs. Kramer, which subsequently took the Oscar for best picture,” writes Rickey. “In 1979, Cronenberg, himself recovering from a difficult divorce and custody contest, noted of his most personal film, ‘The Brood is my version of Kramer vs. Kramer, but more realistic.’ ”

11 comments

  • By Jessie Maness
    March 15, 2016
    01:03 PM

    Happy Birthday to one of the most influential directors of all time. Here's hoping for a Criterion release of Crash.
    Reply
  • By ebdukes
    March 15, 2016
    02:44 PM

    I second what Jessie writes....and would include a re-up of Dead Ringers along with The Dead Zone through The History of Violence and beyond. Even when the movies are below Cronenberg's usual standard, they're still head and shoulders above any one else.
    Reply
    • By Jado3Dhead
      March 15, 2016
      08:43 PM

      And don't forget The Fly! Which is another Criterion no-brainer.
  • By birdies
    March 15, 2016
    08:47 PM

    Happy Birthday PS I want a Criterion Rabid please!!
    Reply
  • By David Hollingsworth
    March 15, 2016
    11:31 PM

    Happy Birthday to one of the greatest directors of all-time. I would really love to see Shivers get released. That's arguably my favorite film of his.
    Reply
  • By Kevin N.
    March 16, 2016
    08:54 AM

    Happy birthday to a hero of mine. Is it enough to know that if the world doesn't understand your art, at least one secretly does? I know, a lame romantic gesture to an artist that isn't always the most romantic - yet, Cronenberg's movies always bring me to a place of unspoken truths, unspeakable desires and, finally, the sublimity of accepting the ugly imperfection of being human. Cheers to one of the greatest artists to grace this Earth!
    Reply
  • By HUSKY
    March 16, 2016
    09:34 AM

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who would love to see more Cronenberg in the collection! Dead Ringers is an absolute masterpiece and needs to come back on Blu!
    Reply
  • By JeffK.
    March 17, 2016
    06:34 AM

    Cronenberg is definitely unique unto himself. I look forward to the day Spider joins the collection.
    Reply
  • By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster
    March 18, 2016
    09:02 PM

    Cronenberg's MAPS TO THE STARS is fantastic! John Cusack, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska ...Brilliant and overlooked film. Cronenberg in fine form here.
    Reply
  • By David Kelly
    March 19, 2016
    08:20 PM

    I agree with all above about David Cronenberg. Now, that Warner is licensing titles to Criterion, it's possible that "Dead Ringers" and "Crash" could join Criterion on blu. As well as "A History of Violence". And Gwendolyn Foster, I agree about "Maps to the Stars". Perhaps it was a tough sell, but once I saw it, it was pure, vintage style Cronenberg, shock value and all...
    Reply
    • By Nick Inman
      March 15, 2017
      08:57 PM

      Now THAT is an excellent notion right there. Crash, Dead Ringers, and A History of Violence in the Criterion Collection is something that needs to happen.