The Bite by Shudder


Revisiting David Cronenberg’s Scanners   
By Michael Marano
This week’s the 38th anniversary of David Cronenberg’s Scanners, a horror/sci-fi classic about pharmaceutically induced telekinesis that helped define “Body Horror.” But just as the film’s iconic exploding head scene — not just deliciously icky in and of itself, but a quote of René Magritte’s paintingLe Principe Du Plaisir — is more than just an exploding head scene, so is Scanners more than brilliant Canuxploitation.

In the film, Cronenberg knitted the body horror of William S. Burroughs’ fiction with the social horror J.G. Ballard’s science fiction. Cronenberg would, of course, adapt Burroughs and Ballard directly in 1991’sNaked Lunch and 1996’s Crash, respectively. Scannersis the Brundle-fly-esque gene-splice of Burroughs and Ballard that paved the way for those films.

Burroughs’ Naked Lunch features a shadowy, underground group of telepaths called “Senders,” who can gain “control of physical movements, mental processes, emotional responses and apparent sensory impressions by means of bioelectrical signals injected into the nervous system of the subject.” If that’s not a Scanner, what is? Burroughs is the junkie granddaddy of the Body Horror of which Cronenberg is the daddy. There’s the infamous scene in Naked Lunch featuring the man who learned to speak through an orifice other than his mouth, the hybrid mutants of his story “Spare *ss Annie” and the hijacking of human bodies in his “My Face”… corruptions of the human form that’d find partial expression in Scanners‘ climactic telepathic duel.

Ballard’s SF, notably in Crash and High Rise (which shares much with Cronenberg’s Shivers), explores the trespass of corporate consumerism onto human identity and personhood. At the center of Scanners is a conspiracy in a giant pharmaceutical company to rewrite the human race by rewiring human nervous systems. In works like Memories of the Space Age, Ballard wrote about corporate consumerist technology fusing with the human nervous system, making us into what Ballard critic Martin Bax called “bio-robots.” This is an actual plot point in Scanners, when a protagonist joins his nervous system with a computer mainframe, to gain needed information.

Scanners wraps these weighty ideas in eye-popping, vein-bursting gore effects by Dick Smith and his team in a way that makes us love it all the more even almost 40 years later.

Image of the Week


Cake … or Death
The victims of our favorite horror movies might have had a better chance of surviving if there’d been an epic cake like this around. We’re pretty sure their killers would have been tempted to give up the chase and instead slash themselves a slice of this tribute to Friday the 13thPsychoA Nightmare on Elm Street, and other horror classics.


Tiny Bites 
M. Night Shyamalan says the reason he retains sequel rights to his movies is so he has the freedom not to make them. Hm.

Because time is a flat circle, The Nerdist looks back athow H. P.  Lovecraft, The King in Yellow, and other cosmic horror influenced the first season of True Detective.

Why do we love horror so much? Science says it’s due to “benign masochism.”

Playboy thinks it’s “irrelevant” whether you think Black: Mirror: Bandersnatch is “gimmicky hogwash or a revolutionary masterpiece.”

The Exorcist director William Friedkin recently talked about Exorcist II: The Heretic and said he thought it was a “a f—ing disgrace.”

Final Destination may never reach its final destination  — because the franchise is being rebooted by twoProject Greenlight winners scripted four of the Sawmovies.

1428 Elm tries to debunk the tropes that horror movies hate women and black characters always die first.

Bustle’s list of 17 scariest movie kids pretty much nails it.

Something truly goddamned strange is going on” does not begin to describe the new trailer for Velvet Buzzsaw. Just go watch it.

The Hills Have Eyes


Nevada + New Hampshire
By Sam Zimmerman
Today’s States of Horror — we’re going to the end (of the world?) and my least favorite climate: desert.

Nevada: In the Mouth of Madness/We Go On

Ok, New Hampshire is GOOD. We’ve got Lovecraftian terror, school bound slashers and a freaky little mind bender. Where do we begin? Let’s go with cosmic darkness. Interestingly, two of our titles use New Hampshire townships as a launchpad into otherworldly homes of uncanny horror. Those would be John Carpenter’s macabre masterwork, In the Mouth of Madness and the debut film from Jesse Holland & Andy Mitton, We Go On. Both films begin with investigations, one a search for a missing horror author hiding out in the fictional New Hampshire town he created; the other, a documentary team seeking the truth of what really happened when an entire New Hampshire village disappeared in 1940. Both films lead their intrepid seekers into psychological nightmare zones influenced by old H.P. One is frighteningly comedic, while the other incredibly shaking. Bonus pick: The best post-Scream slasher there is. Urban Legend is delightful, playful and set a typically New England university, set right in Autumnal New Hampshire.

New Hampshire: The Hills Have Eyes

I already hate deserts, and so frankly my worst nightmare is being trapped in one. That’s not to mention the possibility of a family of demented cannibal killers. That’s just what Wes Craven gave us in his now iconic survival horror, The Hills Have Eyes, about a family broken down in the Nevada sands. I do not like thinking about it and will probably stop doing so after this sentence. Thank you.

The Crate


Great Crate
The Walking Dead‘s Greg Nicotero — who’s the executive producer for Shudder’s upcoming Creepshow TV series — is lucky enough to own one of the prop crates used in “The Crate” segment of the 1982 Creepshow movie. But the rest of us can own something almost as cool — a 3.75″ Creepshow action figure of Fluffy in a miniature crate with enough chains and locks that he’ll never run off. Just don’t keep it under the stairs.

Shudder in the News

ScoreKeeper’s Top Ten Film Scores of 2018 (Mandy)

A Discovery of Witches Review: There’s More to It Than “Twilight for Grown-Ups”

Fangoria #2: Movie critic Joe Bob Briggs is latest cover star of relaunched horror magazine

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