David Cronenberg’s feature debut — about a fast-spreading parasite that quickly overruns a Montreal apartment complex, turning residents into sex-crazed zombies — announced him as the master of "body horror." Shivers is presented in a new digital restoration created by TIFF in anticipation of the upcoming Fall exhibition, David Cronenberg: Evolution.


TIFF Cinematheque


David Cronenberg

In support of our major fall exhibition, David Cronenberg: Evolution, TIFF has restored and re-struck many 35mm prints from this notable Canadian filmmaker's library. Among the most complex projects was Shivers, his first feature film. The story of a homemade science experiment gone awry, it features a greedy, remarkably large, and rapidly reproducing parasite that infects the residents of an apartment complex in Montreal, creating sex-crazed, zombie-like creatures that face off against a sad-sack doctor and terrified nurse.

The film brought Cronenberg to the attention of the international genre community, winning him a Best Director prize at the Sitges Film Festival, and announced him as the master of "body horror." Back home, it created intense controversy — including a debate in Parliament — after being denounced by then-editor of Saturday Night magazine Robert Fulford and soon after that by leading film scholar Robin Wood.

Shivers' standing has seen a continuous upswing since, with critics identifying within it key founding principles of Cronenberg's work, including a wariness of and attraction to science, an embrace of polymorphous perversity, and a deep interest in recherché transformations of the human body.

Our digital restoration was assembled from various elements archived at Cinémathèque Québécoise, principally from a 35mm print of They Came From Within, the US-release version. At David Cronenberg's urging, we have rebuilt the Canadian title card to return the film to its proper name, Shivers.


A TIFF digital restoration in partnership with Technicolor Creative Services Toronto. Colour correction was supervised by David Cronenberg.


Thu Sep 05

TIFF Bell Lightbox 3