david cronenberg


Year: 1981
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Written By: David Cronenberg


I’ve owned this movie since college and it’s only now I realize I’ve never seen it all the way through. I saw it for the first time in a college film class when we screened the famous head exploding scene. I was so impressed with the scene I sought out this movie to add to the collection. It seems now I never actually got around to seeing the whole thing.

This is not an easy movie to watch, and barring some interesting parts it really falls short overall. It’s not by any fault of Director David Cronenberg who had his back against the wall. Pressured by deadlines Cronenberg had to start shooting without a finished script and had to manage two feuding stars. For whatever the reason Patrick McGoohan and Jennifer O’Neil did not get along. I can’t recall the two of them sharing any scenes but I’m sure the problem was prevalent on set during shooting.

The hero in this film, Vale played by Steven Lack, is lacking in acting skills. As the hero of the film he simply doesn’t deliver and the part could have been better cast. On the other hand Michael Ironside in the part of Revok is awesome. I have always been a big fan of Michael Ironside, especially as a villain. He’s been acting for almost 40 years and this is the youngest I have seen him in anything. Even in his youth he had a sinister edge that makes him great for playing bad guys.

This movie is all over the place, and that’s part of what makes it hard to watch. The Scanners at times can’t deal with the thoughts of all those around them, at other times they are fully in control. The sudden expansion of their capabilities from human mind control to computer control was an odd change that didn’t work for me. I also thought the weird voice over in Dr. Ruth’s final moments to be a bit odd and confusing. Is he a scanner or are these simply crazy thoughts of a mad man? He suddenly turning out to be the father of both Vale and Revok is a twist I think was produced out of writing the script while shooting. It’s a weak plot twist and all too typical.

This movie is listed as a horror film but more for the shocks and content than any scary element. This one isn’t going to scare you at all or get you in the mood for the season but it’s not without some excitement. There have been talks of a remake for years but it has never materialized. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen though, Hollywood loves refurbishing old horror movies with a more modern twist. This movie probably could be improved with a remake though. The idea is sound and interesting enough albeit a bit of a bore to watch and too anticlimactic.

I don’t recommend this movie as a Halloween season film and I would avoid it if you are looking for a horror feature to watch this season. Despite its few merits it simply isn’t a scary movie and will do nothing to set the tone you are looking for. There are other horror films from David Cronenberg that are undoubtedly better and eventually we may check them out and review something he will be better remembered for. For the most this movie is remembered for check out the video below for the entire scene and you’ve seen all you need to see.


A History of Violence

Year: 2005
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Written By: John Wagner and Vince Locke (Graphic Novel) and Josh Olsen (screenplay)


First of all, I want to address this film’s position in the order of  the DVD arrangement.  I have seen this movie placed in the “H” section of friends collections who have a similar arrangement, and it has been suggested to me that the film is out of place on our DVD rack.  This is the only circumstance where the words “A” or “the” are taken into account when placing a DVD in the collection.  This is because the “A” seems too important to the title in this instance.  This is not a movie about the history of violence, or even directly about violence at all.  This movie is about one man who has A history of violence, it’s A history he suddenly has to face and can no longer hide from.

A History of Violence is an awesome movie, it’s not perfect but it is great nonetheless. The movie’s strengths are the story, direction, and the performances of the supporting actors.  Ed Harris is great as the scarred mobster from Philly, Aston Holmes is also very good, and William Hurt is unbelievable.  William Hurt was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in this film, which says a lot because comic book films generally don’t get nominated for the big categories.  His role as the mob boss brother can catch you by surprise, he is a great actor and should play this kind of role again.  It’s a good thing the supporting cast did such a good job because the leads are both awful.  I like Viggo Mortensen as an actor, but he is awful in this movie.  Maria Bello is equally awful and when the two of them are together they could sink the movie.  I know that the two sex scenes were intentionally drastically different to show the duality of the Tom Stall/Joey Cusack character but both of them were awful. The two sex scenes are very awkward and go on for far too long, Mortensen and Bello have absolutely no chemistry together.  David Cronenberg is known for being graphic, and he delivers violence and gore as one would expect.  I have heard this film criticized as being too graphic and gory but on the contrary I think that strengthens the film.  The title is A History of Violence after all, I think you have to have certain expectations about it going in and the movie does a great job of fulfilling those expectations.  The violence is sudden and it’s fierce, the ferocity of that violence sets this film apart, it’s what makes it memorable.  If the violence in this film had failed to make an impression then the movie in itself would have been a failure.

If you are uncomfortable seeing blood and violence then steer clear of this movie, but otherwise I recommend it all the way.  It’s not too long, around an hour and a half but it does drag for many slow minutes at the end.  If nothing else, see this film for William Hurt’s performance alone, it really was amazing.


A History of Violence is a very slow, interesting film. I really and thoroughly enjoy it. It’s pace is amazing to me. Usually I hate slow moving movies, but this one is eerily quiet and moves by scene by scene leaving you wondering about each and every character. All of the actors in this movie deliver great roles and they are each believable. Ryan thinks the sex scenes are a little uncomfortable and while that may be true, I find them to be more believable. Sorry that I don’t have more to say on this film, but all in all it is a good flick that is worth watching.