Revered by cult movie fans and championed by critics, this Canadian filmmaker introduced us to the term ‘body horror.’
His preoccupation with disease, hallucination, unconventional medical practices, and mutations of the body and mind can be found in all their grotesquerie in films like Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983) and of course The Fly (1986), his most commercial and successful film that transformed Jeff Goldblum into a vomiting insect.
He also achieved the impossible by bringing William Burroughs’ ‘unfilmable’ novel Naked Lunch to the screen in 1991, and gave us one of the finest Stephen King adaptations in The Dead Zone (1983). His later work detoured from the biological to the psychological in Spider (2002) and A Dangerous Method (2011), and he reinvented the crime thriller with A History of Violence (2005) and Eastern Promises (2007).
Cronenberg’s last film was the dark Hollywood exposé Maps to the Stars in 2014, and according to frequent collaborator Viggo Mortensen, the director has had difficulty getting projects financed and is considering retirement from filmmaking. The death of his wife in July 2017 would also explain his absence, and he’s been writing books – his first novel, Consumed, was published in 2014.
Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of this unique auteur.