THE SHAPE OF FILM ART:
upholding the Toronto indie film art cause
in the allegorical film art
of David Cronenberg
by Gary W. Wright
From the outset, a determination to be free of the control of Hollywood and to use film art to roast Hollywood’s blockbuster lusts were the two most prominent characteristics of the allegorical film art of David Paul Cronenberg. This determination led Cronenberg to embrace film art for film art’s sake, to abandon or subvert the accepted characteristics of Hollywood film art and to create his own unique style of indie film art. While this commitment to unique indie film was initially dismissed by audiences, time and the outrage over the fatal helicopter crash that killed actor/director/writer Vic Morrow and child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le on the George Folsey jr. produced John Landis set of the twilit and allegorical Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller and Steven Spielberg film, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983), eventually won audiences over to his idiosyncratic and indomitable indie cause.
Of course, Cronenberg’s film art had its roots in the exuberant cinephilic ferment that swept the University of Toronto in the mid-Sixties when he was a student, an enthusiastic ferment that led enthusiastic students to defy Canada’s commitment to creating only dour allegorical documentary film art under the auspices of the National Film Board and to make their own allegorical indie feature film art, a Toronto school of film art that was partly inspired by the excitement created when Don Owen replied to and remade the allegorical Richard Rush docufeature film, TOO SOON TO LOVE (1960), with the irrepressible, Greater Toronto Area (GTA) shot and allegorical docufeature film, NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE (1964).
‘When exactly do I become a big boy, mother?’
Curiously, the film began with bored, exuberant, restless, dissatisfied and constantly questioning middle class Etobicoke teen protagonist named Peter Mark-played by Peter Kastner-skipping high school with his teen girlfriend, Julie Grant-played by Julie Biggs. Returning home around supper time, Mark was soon quarrelling over his skipping of school and his failing grades at the kitchen table with his President John F. Kennedy resembling and implicitly linked car salesman father, Warren-played by Claude Rae-and his mother, Mary-played by Charmion King. Soon Mark quit school and left home to live a more fulfilling life on his own in Toronto. However, Mark’s dream of a more fulfilling life was burst by the nightmarish reality that he could only find a steady job as a parking lot attendant under the supervision of the shady and vaguely sinister shortchanger, John-played by John Vernon. This new independent reality was even worse than his life with his parents and his high school studies, and depressed and frustrated him so much the film ended with him robbing the parking lot’s till, stealing a new 1964 Chrysler Belvedere from the lot, and riding off into the unknown free from the control of his father but sobbing quietly to himself after being abandoned by the pregnant Julie.
However, while that was the surface story-and a surface story that repeated most of the main incidents of TOO SOON TO LOVE-Owen implied that another allegorical story was happening underneath. For Peter’s Dad, Warren, resembled and spoke like President Kennedy, alive when the film began production in the summer of 1963, dead when the production ended in 1964, implicitly linking Warren-whose name evoked or presciently anticipated the post-assassination Warren Commission-to JFK. For his part, John the parking lot supervisor resembled President Lyndon B. Johnson, implicitly linking John to the then current President of those United States. Last but not least, the exuberant, restless, dissatisfied and constantly questioning Peter evoked and resembled the equally exuberant, restless, dissatisfied and constantly questioning Pierre Trudeau, then emerging as an important figure in Canada and soon to be elected nationally and appointed Minister of Justice in the Liberal government of Prime Minister Lester B. ‘Mike’ Pearson before he became Prime Minister himself in 1968-how prescient that Peter’s initials were ‘PM’ and that his film long squabbles with Julie anticipated similar squabbles years later between Pierre and Margaret Trudeau. Thus, the rise and fall of the mercurial and JFK, LBJ and PET linked Peter over the course of NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE implied the fear or hope of Owen that the equally mercurial Pierre would rise and fall just as fast as Peter in his attempt to break Canada free from the influence of the U.S. by creating a new constitution with its own Canadian bill of rights for the individual if and when he was elected to the federal government.
Or did Owen imply that the attempt to create an indie Canadian feature film industry would crash and burn like Peter? For the ending of NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE was the lonely and defeated opposite of the ending of TOO SOON TO LOVE, which saw equally troubled and restless teen hero James ‘Jim’ Mills-played by Richard Evans-walk hopefully off with his pregnant girlfriend Kathleen ‘Kathy’ Taylor-her surname evoking Elizabeth Taylor, and played by Jennifer West-determined to succeed together as a married couple despite their youth and lack of education, jobs or money, an ending which either implied the optimistic hope of Rush that he would succeed with feature film art the hope of Rush that Canada would finally create a successful feature film art industry, given that Kathy’s parents, Norman and Mrs. Taylor-played by Warren Parker and Alice Dudley, respectively-evoked Pearson and his wife, Maryon-or was that then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and his wife Olive. The fact that Kastner also resembled Toronto born Hollywood film artist Norman Jewison, who had recently appeared in the Temple Theatre with his first two allegorical films, 40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE (1962) and THE THRILL OF IT ALL (1963), affirmed that implication. The surname of Julie Grant also evoked that of Cary Grant, reaffirming the implication that Owen felt that feature film art was an American rather than a Canadian thing.
At any rate, two license plates in the film, the imaginary JK 15732 and the real 323 533, eerily anticipated the July 23, 1982 date of the TZ disaster, while another one-520 479-almost made for a twilit trio of eerie premonitions. A new Ford Galaxie with 23.7 cubic feet in its trunk also eerily anticipated the TZ disaster. A twilit trio of two boys and one girl who stood on a footbridge on Toronto Island watching Peter and Julie drift by in a canoe beneath them reaffirmed the film’s ominous anticipation of the TZ disaster. A link to blockbuster Hollywood foibles affirmed by surname of Julie Grant and by the disdain Peter expressed at the beginning of the film to his sister’s boyfriend, Ron-played by Ron Taylor-that Ron would take his sister, Jennifer-played by Toby Tarnow-to see the allegorical Joseph L. Mankiewicz film, CLEOPATRA (1963). An implicit interest in roasting Hollywood film art that returned in the first feature film from the Toronto school, the equally irrepressible, mostly Toronto shot and allegorical David Secter docufeature film, WINTER KEPT US WARM (1965).
‘You’ve been in love before, haven’t you?’
Curiously, the film saw a confident, handsome, virile and apparently hetereosexual male U of T student named Doug Harris-played by John Labow-slowly and implicitly fall in love with a shy, diffident, geeky and possibly homosexual male student named Peter Saarinen-played by Henry Tarvainen. Significantly, the film ended with the life of the initially dominant Doug in disarray when Peter did not notice or return his overtures, and with Peter succeeding at his studies, with his role in a school production of the allegorical Henrik Ibsen play, Ghosts (1882), and with Sandra-played by Janet Amos-an actress in the play. . Thus, given that the name of Peter evoked Peter in NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE and that Saarinen succeeded, in the end, unlike Mark, Secter implied that he was replying to Owen and hoping either that the unconventional Trudeau would also succeed in life or that Canadian feature film art would finally catch on in Canada.
Most likely the latter implication, given that Harris had a beautiful and curvaceous blonde girlfriend named Beverly-played by Joy Fielding-who evoked Hollywood film art, a link implicitly affirmed by her Beverly Hills evoking name, which implied that WINTER KEPT US WARM was also an allegorical roast of Hollywood film art as well as a reply to NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE. In fact, given the resemblance of Doug and Bev to Rock Hudson and Doris Day-whose latest cinematic collaboration, the allegorical Jewison film, SEND ME NO FLOWERS (1964), was released only two years earlier-Secter implied that he was also replying to fellow Toronto film artist Jewison in WINTER KEPT US WARM like Owen may have already done in NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE. Indeed, the ‘Do-‘ of Doug and the ‘-ris’ of Harris created Doris, affirming the implicit interest in Rock and Doris in the film and Secter’s interest in replying to Jewison.
Thus, with Peter’s triumph over Doug at the end of the film, Secter implied either that Hudson should stop pretending to be heterosexual in his films and come out of his closet or that he hoped that Canadian film artists who created their film art in Canada-symbolized by Peter-would defeat Canadian ‘traitors’ like Jewison who fled Canada to create their film art in Hollywood-symbolized by Doug. Or did Peter Saarinen symbolize Norman Jewison given the similar syllable cadence to their names, thus implying in the victory of Peter over Doug the hope of Secter that Jewison would throw out the Hollywood way and go off to make his own idiosyncratic indie film art? If the latter was the true intent of WINTER KEPT US WARM, it was a very prescient intent, for Jewison soon did exactly that. In short, Secter implied that WINTER KEPT US WARM was a patriotic film manifesto that proclaimed the need for Canadian film artists to finally create a Canadian feature film art industry in Canada and perhaps even in Hollywood. An implicit call to arms to shape Canadian feature film art that clearly inspired fellow U of T student Cronenberg, for he soon proclaimed his commitment to quirky and quality Canadian film art with his first satirical and absurdist allegorical short film, TRANSER (1966).
‘Love is destructive, Doctor. I never denied
that my love for you was destructive, but I can’t
be sorry. Can you understand that?’
An exercise in colour and wintry absurdity, it saw a young male Boomer patient named Ralph-played by Rafe McPherson-express his ardent love for a cold, distant, self-absorbed, exiled and implicitly gay male Boomer Doctor of psychoanalysis-played by Mort Ritts-in a snowswept farmer’s field presumably in southeastern Ontario-perhaps Cronenberg’s satirical way of roasting the ambiguity of WINTER KEPT US WARM, given that it was released the year after that film.
Curiously, this sudden interest in creating Canadian feature film art was implicitly noticed and sympathetically roasted by Francis Coppola in an allegorical film whose title, YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW (1966), not only alluded to a line in NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE but summed up Coppola’s amusement at the exuberant efforts of Toronto and other Canadian cinephiles. Indeed, the return of Kastner as another exuberant, restless, questioning and implicitly Trudeau linked character named Bernard Chanticleer affirmed Coppola’s implicit and amused interest in the first offerings of Canadian allegorical feature film art, while the heartbreak Bernard experienced over the course of the film implied that Coppola warned aspiring Canadian film artists to also prepare for heartbreaking setbacks to dog the creation of their film art. An implicit roast from Coppola that perhaps prompted Cronenberg to rise to the defence of Toronto and Canadian film art, for he soon teamed up again with Ritts and co-producer and co-sound person Stefan Nosko and returned with the allegorical and equally absurdist Cronenberg short film, FROM THE DRAIN (1967).
‘Don’t you understand?
I am the new Recreational Program Director!’
For the black and white film-as black and white as the original TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series-accompanied throughout by a neo-Baroque acoustic instrumental track saw a young, quirky and implicitly gay Boomer male (IGBM)-played by Ritts-meet up with an equally young and implicitly heterosexual Boomer male (IHBM)-played by Nosko-in a water free bathtub supposedly residing in the Disabled War Veterans Recreation Centre. Quickly becoming bored, restless and fed up with the IHBM’s initial silence and then his strange warnings about plant tendrils growing up from the drain, the IGBM decided to amuse himself and literally take over the IHBM’s position of Recreation by convincing the other man to change positions in the bathtub so that the IHBM was sitting over the drain and the IGBM was sitting at the back of the tub. To the IGBM’s surprised interest, the IHBM’s warnings proved true, as a plant tendril soon grew out of the drain and strangled him to death. Or perhaps not, as it was uncertain whether the ‘tendril’ actually rose out of the drain or out of the frightened imagination of the IHBM. At any rate, with the IHBM dead, the IGBM was able to take over his position as a quirky, new and openly gay Recreation Director and launch a more uplifting and expanding recreational program for the Disabled War Veterans Recreation Centre, perhaps Cronenberg’s way of triumphing over Coppola and YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW.
At any rate, FROM THE DRAIN reaffirmed Cronenberg’s commitment to idiosyncratic indie film art, and revealed a taste for macabre and horrific satire. A quirky indie film art path that already featured a mostly stationary camera that panned right, left, up and down with slow, pensive and ominous reluctance, which became a trademark characteristic of all of the film art of Cronenberg. The troubled war veterans of the film also anticipated all of the many equally troubled veterans of the dread allegorical Zone Wars to come. The use of an implicitly and unabashedly gay actor also affirmed his love of mind games. In fact, Cronenberg’s use of an implicilty gay actor no doubt led some audience members to wonder if the aspiring film artist was admitting that he was gay. After all, the quirky IGBM triumphed as the new Director, in the end, just like Cronenberg implicitly wanted to do, thus linking the hopeful indie film artist to homosexuality.
Cronenberg certainly toyed with that implication, for another implictly gay leading man, a fondness for playing with the minds of audiences and an implicit determination to triumph over Hollywood film art with quirky indie film art all returned with Nosko as another production assistant and Iain Ewing and Jack Messinger-who played Artie and Nick, respectively, in WINTER KEPT US WARM-in the allegorical film art manifesto, STEREO (1969).
‘In our experiment, eight Category ‘A’ subjects
underwent pattern brain surgery whose program
was developed within the Academy’s organic
computer dialectic system. The object of surgery
was to extend by a process called biochemical
induction, the natural electrochemical network
of the human brain. This extension would provide
each subject with telepathic capabilities…
The rate of telepathic flow between two minds
Is directly proportional to the intensity of the
relationship between the two minds…
A strong sexual attraction would be a substantial basis
for the establishing of a geometrically increasing rate of
telepathic flow…Academy research has established that
both hetereosexuality and homosexuality are equally,
what might be termed, perversions, relative to
the potential human sexual field. In this context,
the true norm is an expanded form of bisexuality
which we term omnisexuality…
The telepathist, then, by virtue of the omnisexual
nature of his experiential space continuum, may readily
be seen to be the possible prototype of
three dimensional man.’
Curiously, the short and ironically silent STEREO was as black and white as FROM THE DRAIN in another ominous memory of the twilit future in the film art of Cronenberg. This twilit premonition was ominously reaffirmed by the helicopter that flew slowly out of the distance and into the foreground of the frame, settled onto the grass of the futurist northern Ontario sanatorium of the Canadian Academy Of Erotic Enquiry-actually, the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto-and dropped off the implicitly gay and unnamed blonde male lead-played by Ronald Mlodzik-in his Phantom of the Opera-or was that Hamlet?-evoking black cape and leotards. Curiously, after the twilit helicopter dropped off Mlodzik’s character at the Academy and flew away, the anonymous and cane flourishing caped character spent the rest of the film wandering around the sanatorium and interacting with the other young Boomer residents of the Academy sanatorium.
As he wandered, intermittent segments of exuberantly dry, cerebral, scientific and satirical voiceover (VO) narration from different voices-implicitly including that of Cronenberg and Mlodzik-disturbed the ironic silence of STEREO-and evoked a similar film long VO heard over the static but equally black and white imagery of the allegorical Chris Marker film, LA JETEE (1963). These VOs gave the audience a sense that on one level Cronenberg was gleefully spoofing the similar but more seriously dry and cerebral tone of the NFB documentary films that Canada was more famous for at the time. Indeed, most of the Canadian feature film artists who emerged in the Sixties like Owen got their start in film with the NFB. Intriguingly, these intermittent segments of seriously satirical narration informed us that Mlodzik’s unnamed character was one of eight ‘Category A’ Boomer subjects participating in an attempt by the Canadian Academy of Erotic Enquiry to induce a higher state of bi-sexual and telepathic existence known as ‘omnisexuality’ by way of brain surgery and supplementary medicine. A somehow fitting revelation, given that the VOs tended to emerge out of nowhere and everywhere when you least expected them, like they were telepathic monologues being beamed into the minds of audiences in order to also induce telepathic omnisexuality in audience members.
Significantly, it was noticeable that most of the subjects who successfully became omnisexual ‘telepathists’ were heterosexual males, like most film artists to this day. This implied that telepathic omnisexuals symbolized film artists, an implicit symbolic link between telepathists and film artists that forever remained a characteristic of the film art of Cronenberg. It was also noticeable that successful omnisexuals mostly lost interest in crude sex and violence and became more interested in peace, love and harmony, and strove to encourage an interest in peace, love and harmony in less advanced people, as well. Thus, Cronenberg implied that STEREO was less a light hearted spoof of NFB documentaries and more a seriously funny film manifesto in which the budding feature film artist declared his intention to leave behind the old Canadian tradition of merely informative allegorical documentary film art and devote himself to a brave new world of allegorical film art that strove to advance Canadian and world audiences to a new and higher level of awareness, empathy, insight, love, peace, creativity and national and international esprit de corps. An earnest cinematic ambition in tune with national developments at the time, for with the 1968 election of the exuberant and ambitious Liberal government inspired by Prime Minister Trudeau the year before, Canadians implied that they wanted to transform the country-and the world. How fitting that the sexy and sexually ambiguous bachelor Prime Minister Trudeau appealed equally to both sexes, making him come across as a real life bisexual and telepathic omnisexual.
To aid the creation of that brave new film art, Cronenberg again noticeably tossed out Hollywood conventions and adopted an idiosyncratic, improvisational, satirical and more thoughtful style in STEREO. The mostly stationary camera shots reluctantly punctuated by slow, pensive and ominous panning shots to the right and left or up and down seen in FROM THE DRAIN and TRANSFER also returned in STEREO. An implicit determination to create a brave and more advanced new film art that Cronenberg knew would not be easy, as the attempt to induce telepathy in the eight subjects ended mostly in failure. As such, it was fitting that one of the final lines of telepathic narration in the film sagely noted that ‘…it was found that the telepathic experience was likely to be an overwhelming and extremely exhausting one verging on pain and hallucination’, for the comment all too aptly summed up the lonely and difficult life of the long distance film artist.
Significantly, the opening helicopter and the jousting between dominant and weak test subjects also anticipated the battling between angry and traumatized New Hollywood film artists in the dread allegorical Zone Wars to come. An implicit interest in New Hollywood film artists that continued when Cronenberg returned with Ewing, Messinger, Mlodzik, Nosko and Paul Mulholland-who had a role in STEREO-on his next allegorical, full colour, sexually ambiguous and William S. Burroughs evoking film, CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (1970).
‘Chomkin suggests that there must evolve
a novel sexuality for a new species of man.’
Curiously, like STEREO, the silence of the film was also intermittently interrupted by a VO by one Adrian Tripod-his surname linking him to film art and film artists via the tripod that supported stationary film cameras, and played by Mlodzik-who resembled a bespectacled H.P. Lovecraft in sepulchral black and who wandered around the equally futurist Massey College of the University of Toronto interacting with another cast of exuberant young and mostly male students, four of whom resembled Spielberg, Art Garfunkel, Dennis Hopper and Paul Simon. Significantly, however, this time the VO was not satirically cerebral and scientific or openly interested in a more advanced humanity and implicitly more advanced film artist. Despite this change in narrative focus, Tripod’s account of a struggle between his House of Skin skin disorder treatment centre and the Institute of Neo-Venereal Disease still anticipated Cronenberg’s determination to defeat diseased Neo-Hollywood film art with his idiosyncratic indie film art.
The main difference between CRIMES OF THE FUTURE and STEREO was that the former also included an intermittent weird electronic ‘score’. CRIMES OF THE FUTURE also ended with a strange and almost pedophilic sequence that saw Tripod alone in a room with a child who may have been a boy or a girl and also may or may not have been a naturally powerful and telepathic omnisexual. Stripping down to his black pants, and with a tie wrapped around his neck, Tripod sat down in a chair opposite the child, stared at him/her, shared cake icing with him/her, and then closed his eyes and cried a single bluegreen tear, perhaps a lament for Cronenberg’s own lost childhood innocence or in knowing and anguished anticipation of the difficult and depressing years ahead as a much maligned and reviled film artist.
However, while mysterious, CRIMES OF THE FUTURE was shot well and allowed Cronenberg to continue tossing out all of the conventions of Hollywood film art so as to remake film art in a more thoughtful, quirky and indie style while retaining his trademark camera style. A quirky indie style that implicitly met with the approval of Stanley Kubrick, for he implicitly linked Cronenberg to the mayhem loving and triumphant indie punk, Alexander ‘Alex’ DeLarge-played by Malcolm McDowell-in the allegorical docufeature artbuster, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971). A more thoughtful and satirical style that clearly now had the confidence to embrace and eagerly subvert and transform mainstream film art, for after fooling around with counterculture secret agents in the allegorical telefilm, SECRET WEAPONS (1972), with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Cronenberg left behind his carefree and unstructured student film art years and returned along with Mlodzik with his first allegorical feature film, SHIVERS (1975), a far more serious and structured work that affirmed the implications in CRIMES OF THE FUTURE, FROM THE DRAIN and STEREO that Hollywood film artists would be his favourite targets.
‘Do you want to go to a party?’
Curiously, the film began with a series of colour still photographs accompanied by an ironically smooth and reassuring VO by Mlodzik’s Ronald ‘Ron’ Merrick introducing audiences to the film’s setting at the spanking new and futurist Starliner Island apartment complex near Montreal and describing all of the amenities and luxuries to be enjoyed at the complex. Ironically and despite this reassuring VO, the luxurious peace and harmony of the complex was soon disturbed by the introduction of a manmade and phallic sexual parasite-one appearing from the drain of a bathtub in a nod to FROM THE DRAIN-that caused the mostly young Boomer inhabitants of the complex to sexually assault and pass on the parasite to each other. Significantly, this sexual parasite was created by Doctor Emil Hobbs-played by Fred Doederlein-who resembled John Williams, composer of the soundtrack for the allegorical John Guillermin film, THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974), implying that Cronenberg was roasting that film and the blockbuster disease it infected audiences with in SHIVERS.
Indeed, the troubles in the new and state of the art Starliner Island apartment building evoked a devastating fire that broke out at the opening of the equally spanking new Glass Tower in San Francisco in THE TOWERING INFERNO, reaffirming the implication that Cronenberg was roasting that film in SHIVERS. The fact that the Starliner Island apartment complex could only be reached by driving over the Carriere Bridge reaffirmed the possibility that Cronenberg was roasting THE TOWERING INFERNO in SHIVERS, for the Carriere Bridge evoked the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The vague resemblance of female and male leads Nurse Forsythe and Doctor Roger St. Luc-played by Lynn Lowry and Paul Hampton, respectively-to Susan and Doug Roberts-played by Faye Dunaway and Paul Newman, respectively-in THE TOWERING INFERNO reaffirmed the implicit intent of the film. In addition, as in STEREO, a twilit memory of the crimes of the future appeared in SHIVERS. For the license plate of a red sports car carrying infected people out of the underground parking lot of the Starliner to spread blockbuster sexual disease at the end of the film was 732E790, eerily and exactly anticipating the 7/32/1982 date of the TZ disaster.
Significantly, Cronenberg’s efforts to save and elevate the vital humanity of audiences and film art were implicitly and sympathetically saluted in the form of the triumph of intrepid newspaper reporter Chuck Browning-played by Peter Fonda-over Delos, the Evil and implicitly Hollywood linked android factory, in the allegorical Richard T. Heffron film, FUTUREWORLD (1976), an implicit Cronenberg addressing intent affirmed by the film’s allusions to STEREO. Alas for Cronenberg, while perhaps the first allegorical film to address his film art and himself, FUTUREWORLD was a dumb and half-assed facsimile of a better and more intelligent Cronenberg film that was only remembered now for being the first film to be enhanced with computer generated imagery (CGI). As for Cronenberg, ominous memories of the future returned when he teamed up again with Messinger, Mlodzik, Sonny Forbes-who had a bit part in SHIVERS-Ivan Reitman-music supervisor and co-producer of SHIVERS-and Joe Silver-who played Rollo Linsky in SHIVERS-to implicitly roast New Hollywood’s growing blockbuster lusts and its sexually graphic and violent film art in general, and that of Martin Scorsese in particular, in the allegorical film, RABID (1977).
‘I’m a monster!’
Indeed, no sooner did the Scorsese resembling and implicitly linked Doctor Daniel Keloid-played by Howard Ryshpan-wonder if he should expand his sole plastic surgery clinic into a chain of money making Keloid Clinics at the beginning of the film than he was battling to save Rose-played by Marilyn Chambers-who was rushed to the clinic after being badly burned in a motorcycle accident. While successfully saving the life of Rose, the controversial and experimental skin grafting technique Dr. Keloid used to do so led to the creation of a thirsty vampiric tooth under the sinister left armpit of Rose. This vampiric tooth forced Rose to bite unsuspecting people to drain them of their blood and life force, turning them into shambling vampiric zombies who attacked and bit other people in turn and also transformed them into shambling vampiric zombies. As Dr. Keloid was one of the first victims of Rose, Cronenberg implied that the graphic sex and violence in the film art of Scorsese and the other film artists of New Hollywood and their increasing blockbuster lusts would destroy them and their audiences-particularly more sensitive Canadian audiences.
Indeed, the sight of Rose walking by a theatre on a street in Montreal playing the allegorical and implicitly Spielberg roasting Brian De Palma film, CARRIE (1976), openly affirmed the link of Rose to violent New Hollywood film art. The fact that Chambers was an American porn star reaffirmed Cronenberg’s implicit concern that American film art had become diseased and deadly. In fact, since Chambers resembled Debbie Collins, who played Countess Sexcula in the allegorical Bob Hollowich film, SEXCULA (1974), Cronenberg might have also have been using RABID to bitterly blast that pornographic film, given that the outrage heaped on RABID, SHIVERS and Cronenberg was not heaped on SEXCULA and Hollowich, despite the fact that all three films had been made with the same Canadian tax dollars. At any rate, the eerie license FZ-22523 seen on a car in RABID was another ominous memory of the equally deadly and twilit future of New Hollywood film art. How also fitting that Rose, the embodiment of diseased American film art was killed, in the end, by an infected man played by Allan Moyle, for Moyle also went on to become an idiosyncratic indie Canadian film artist.
Curiously, Sir Ridley Scott implicitly sympathized with Cronenberg and his difficult indie film art journey in the implicit form of embattled Napoleonic officer Armand D’Hubert-played by Keith Carradine-in the allegorical film, THE DUELLISTS (1977). Ingmar Bergman also implicitly roasted Cronenberg in the implicit form of Abel Rosenberg-played by David Carradine-in the allegorical film, THE SERPENT’S EGG (1977). As for Cronenberg, he gritted his teeth, swallowed his idiosyncratic indie film art pride and accepted a mainstream Hollywood film art project in Alberta as a way to hone his craft, continue to implicitly battle New Hollywood, reply to Kubrick and ominously anticipate twilit crimes of the future once again in the allegorical film, FAST COMPANY (1978).
‘What do you want to be, a movie star?’
Significantly, the sight of William Smith’s implicitly Kubrick linked indie race car team manager and head driver, Lonnie ‘Lucky Man’ Johnson-who was fittingly just as fond of creating new equipment to enhance his cars so as to succeed as a racer as Kubrick was to create new gear to enhance his cameras and photographic effects so as to succeed as a film artist-breaking free from the corporate FastCo team and its blockbuster loot lusting and implicitly George Lucas linked FastCo manager, Phil Adamson-played by John Saxon-and leading his indie racing team to a victory over the corporate FastCo team and its new top driver, the implicitly Spielberg linked Gary ‘the Blacksmith’ Black-played by Cedric Smith-implied the hope of Cronenberg that Kubrick and his innovative and stubbornly indie film art would continue to beat corporate Hollywood film art in general and that of Lucas in particular now that Lucas was Skyrocking with the phenomenal success of his allegorical and implicitly Spielberg roasting film, STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977). Indeed, the film’s many allusions to that film and to the allegorical and implicitly Don Shebib roasting Lucas film, AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973), as well as to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and such allegorical Kubrick films as SPARTACUS (1960), LOLITA (1962), 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) and BARRY LYNDON (1975) affirmed the implicitly Lucas roasting and Kubrick supporting intent of FAST COMPANY.
Not surprisingly, given the implication that Kubrick wryly addressed Cronenberg in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, there were numerous extras with orange baseball caps, shirts and jackets seen in FAST COMPANY-and even a few orange picnic tables-to implicitly affirm that Cronenberg had noticed the implicit interest in himself in that film. Indeed, Cronenberg reaffirmed that implication with the name of Johnson’s implicitly Cronenberg or Sir Scott linked apprentice, Billy ‘the Kid’ Brooker-played by Nicholas Campbell. For the Kid had a second nickname, Billyboy, that evoked Billy Boy-played by Richard Connaught-the leader of a rival gang that Alex and his droogs rumbled with at the beginning of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Two sexy young hitchhikers-one blonde and one brunette, and played by Cheri Hilsabeck and Sonya Ratke, respectively-that Billyboy fooled around with at one point also evoked the blonde nymphet and the brunette nymphet that Alex took home to his room to fool around with in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE reaffirmed the implicit interest in that film in FAST COMPANY. The resemblance of Johnson support team member, P.J.-played by Robert Haley-to Alfred E. Neuman, the face of MAD magazine, also affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Kubrick, reminding us of two minor character who looked like Neuman in LOLITA, and the grimly MADcap and demented spirit of the allegorical Kubrick film, DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964).
Eerily, more ominous memories of the twilit future also appeared in the film in the form of a license plate that ended 342 on the white support pickup used by the Johnson team, a highway sign that read ‘Helena 230’ and a hoped for sexual rendezvous in Sandman Inn room 237. Thus, it was all too eerily fitting that the names of Lonnie Johnson evoked those of John Landis, and that Johnson was plagued by drag racing accidents that also anticipated the TZ disaster. A deadly helicopter crash ominously anticipated by the end of FAST COMPANY, which saw Adamson die in a climatic and explosive small plane crash that implicitly predicted the demise of the skyrocking career of Lucas. The name of Phil Adamson was also eerily fitting, for it anticipated the permanent link of quirky American literary artist Philip K. Dick to the twilit and disastrous year of 1982 as a result of his death in March of 1982, and the release four months later of the equally prescient, twilit and allegorical Sir Ridley Scott film, BLADE RUNNER (1982), which was inspired by the allegorical and implicitly Disney roasting PKD novel, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (1968).
Curiously, despite the welcome experience FAST COMPANY gave him, Cronenberg was implicitly not pleased with making the film, for he quickly teamed up again with Campbell, Robert Silverman-who had a bit part in RABID-and Mark Irwin and Carol Spier-cinematographer and production designer, respectively, on FAST COMPANY-to implicitly exorcise FAST COMPANY from his system and reassert his commitment to his own original and idiosyncratic indie film art with his most confident and original allegorical film to date, THE BROOD (1979).
‘You mustn’t be too hard on him, Nola sweetheart.
He’s just trying to be a good protective father…
He’s protecting his little girl.’
Indeed, the film long battle of the Cronenberg resembling and implicitly linked Frank Carveth-played by the fittingly Art Hindle-to free his daughter, Candice ‘Candy’ Carveth-played by Cindy Hinds-from the angry, jealous and deadly clutches of his estranged wife, Nola-played by Samantha Eggar-and her brood of murderous, lookalike and sexually ambiguous nightmare children inadvertently created by the psychoplasmic treatment of the implicitly Kubrick linked Doctor Hal Raglan-played by Oliver Reed-at his fittingly named Somafree Institute Of Psychoplasmics was implicitly linked to the struggle of Cronenberg to free himself and his idiosyncratic and original indie film art from the deadly, blockbuster loot lusting and generic clutches of Hollywood and its lookalike film art like the implicitly Kubrick roasting FAST COMPANY throughout THE BROOD. The name of Nola affirmed that determined implication, for it literally made it clear that Cronenberg wanted ‘…no L.A.’ or interference from Hollywood in his film art. The implicit link to Kubrick of Dr. Raglan and the allusions to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and FAST COMPANY-complete with all sorts of characters wearing orange clothing again (and even the sight of orange objects like towels and bars of soap) that evoked the colourful orange nods to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE in FAST COMPANY, and the sight of Candy and one of the nightmare kids wearing red, white and blue hooded winter snowsuits that evoked the red, white and blue FastCo racing suits-reaffirmed the implication that Cronenberg was using the film to break free from Hollywood in general and FAST COMPANY in particular.
Significantly, while better known in association with THE BROOD, the phrase ‘psychoplasmics’ was actually first heard in a VO in FUTUREWORLD that mentioned that ‘…I am reading the psychoplasmic structure now’. Thus, Cronenberg implied that he was also replying to FUTUREWORLD in THE BROOD. Indeed, given the emphasis on the shape of rage in the film, Cronenberg implied he was furious with FUTUREWORLD, no doubt because it was a lame and weak facsimile of his own better and more original, idiosyncratic and thought provoking indie film art. Thus, Frank’s triumph over Nola and her brood of nightmarish and sexually ambiguous copies of children also implicitly symbolized Cronenberg’s determination to triumph over Hollywood and its inferior copies of his own film art with THE BROOD. Indeed, the name of Dr. Hal Raglan supported that implication, as Hal Raglan had the reverse initials of Richard Heffron, the director of FUTUREWORLD.
Curiously, executive producer Lucas and director B.W.L. Norton implicitly roasted Cronenberg that same year in the form of a rival drag racer named Roger Beckwith-played by Ken Place-who competed against ace racer, John Milner-played by Paul Le Mat-in one of the intertwined stories in the allegorical film, MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1979), no doubt in response to Cronenberg’s implicit roast of Lucas in FAST COMPANY. For his part, Nicholas Meyer implicitly roasted Cronenberg and Sir Scott in the form of the gleefully violent and time travelling surgeon, Doctor John Leslie Stevenson aka Jack the Ripper-played by David Warner-and his temporally pursuing nineteenth century colleague, the altruistic and optimistic Herbert George (H.G.) Wells-played by Malcolm McDowell-in the allegorical film, TIME AFTER TIME (1979), and affirmed the implicit intent with allusions to RABID and THE DUELLISTS.
Clearly, the allegorical and satirical films of Cronenberg and Sir Scott were attracting notice and the two indie film artists were now taking hits in return from their implicit targets. An embattled situation that caused Cronenberg to implicitly reply to Meyer and Norton when he teamed up again with Doederlein, Forbes, Irwin, Messinger, Silverman, Spier, Claude Heroux-producer of THE BROOD-Ronald Sanders-editor of FAST COMPANY-Howard Shore-composer of THE BROOD-and Pierre David and Victor Solnicki-executive producers of THE BROOD-on the allegorical film, SCANNERS (1980).
‘I think I’m a bit afraid.’
Indeed, the sight of the older, bearded and Kubrick evoking rebel ConSec director, Doctor Paul Ruth-played by Patrick McGoohan-training the Good, young, clean shaven, Reitman resembling and implicitly linked, and naturally powerful but untrained telepathic ‘scanner’, Cameron Vale-played by Stephen Lack-to use his ESP abilities to fight and defeat the Evil scanners led by the callous, violent and implicitly Meyer linked Darryl Revok-played by Michael Ironside-and his henchman, the implicitly Norton linked ConSec security chief, Braedon Keller-played by Lawrence Dane-affirmed the implicit Meyer and Norton roasting intent of the film. The resemblance of two of Revok’s Evil scanner companions to Toronto Festival of Festivals heads Cameron Bailey and Piers Handling-played by Forbes and Jerome Tiberghien, respectively-also implied that Cameron was roasting them in the film, perhaps for initially snubbing Canadian film art at the annual gathering that over time became the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The fact that the Evil scanners were rigid adherents to the RIPE Program implied as much, as ‘RIPE’ was an anagram of Pier.
Curiously, the ominously twilit memories of the future that were absent from THE BROOD returned in SCANNERS. For 237 known and unknown extrasensory powered men and women were mentioned as being at large at the beginning of the film, evoking the 23/07/82 date of the TZ disaster again in the film art of Cronenberg. A black and white short film of the young Revok made on January 4, 1967 by the Crane Psychiatric Institute that Dr. Ruth played for Vale not only openly linked Revok to film art and artists and wistfully evoked the innocent and carefree days of the equally black and white FROM THE DRAIN and STEREO-a wistful evocation affirmed by the presence of Messinger as a Good scanner-but also anticipated the coming TZ disaster. For the short film was again as black and white as the original TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series, and it began with a title card that listed the film’s reference number as 32407, again evoking the 23/07/82 date of the TZ disaster. And how also fitting that Vale demonstrated his raw and natural scanning powers to Dr. Ruth on a yoga master named Peter Tubbs-played by Graham Batchelor-who resembled PKD, for Tubbs again anticipated PKD’s permanent link to the twilit and disastrous year of 1982.
The twilit and disastrous year of ’82 was also evoked by a hotel room numbered 802 that Vale rested in at one point in the film. A helicopter carrying Obrist and Vale that landed on a grassy sward at another point also anticipated the crashed helicopter of the TZ disaster, and evoked the helicopter that landed and dropped off Mlodzik’s anonymous character at the Canadian Academy Of Erotic Enquiry at the beginning of STEREO in another wistful evocation of that equally ESP obsessed film. Ominously, the brutal war that raged between the implicitly film artist linked Good and Evil scanners in the film also anticipated the battles between Good and Evil film artists in the upcoming dread allegorical Zone Wars after the TZ disaster.
Indeed, the name of Cameron Vale anticipated the emergence of James Cameron-who, fittingly, arrived in the Temple Theatre the year of the TZ disaster with his implicitly Sir Scott roasting film, PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING (1982)-as the major player in the dread allegorical Zone Wars. Thus, it was fitting that a Good scanner that looked like Cameron was seen in the film. It was also fitting that SCANNERS began and ended with green digital opening and closing titles and also featured a sequence that saw Vale use a payphone to infiltrate and destroy ConSec’s computer system with his ESP powers, for these cybernetic touches anticipated the emphasis on CGI and digital film art in the dread allegorical Zone Wars and in the Zonebusting film art of Cameron, and Cronenberg’s own resistance to embracing CGI enhancement in order to preserve and advance the vital humanity of film art. Indeed, the ominous computer login password of ‘…1-24-CS13Q’ that contained the fateful number 23 affirmed all too well the eerily twilit prescience of SCANNERS.
Curiously, David Lynch implicitly replied to THE DUELLISTS and TIME AFTER TIME and linked the ‘monstrous’ Cronenberg to the ‘terrible’ and terrifying John Merrick-his name evoking Mlodzik’s Ron Merrick in SHIVERS, and played by John Hurt-and also implicitly linked Merrick’s savior, Doctor Frederick Treves-played by Sir Anthony Hopkins-to Sir Scott in his allegorical moving painting, THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980). Indeed, the presence of the Silverman resembling Bytes-played by Freddie Jones-an extra who resembled Dr. St. Luc in SHIVERS and allusions to TIME AFTER TIME affirmed the implicit Cronenberg and Sir Scott addressing intent of THE ELEPHANT MAN. An implicit intent that was quite prescient, for the sight of mainstream London society losing its fear of Merrick and embracing him at the end of the film anticipated mainstream Canadian and world society also losing its fear of the ‘terrible’ and terrifying Cronenberg and embracing him, in the end.
For his part, Kubrick implicitly warned Cronenberg that his fondness for cinematic works of allegorical horror would destroy his artistry and creativity as surely as working as the caretaker of the haunted and troubled Overlook Hotel destroyed English teacher and struggling writer John Daniel ‘Jack’ Torrance-his name evoking Jack the Ripper in TIME AFTER TIME, and played by Jack Nicholson-in the allegorical film, THE SHINING (1980). Indeed, the film’s spare camera movements, strange electronic score that evoked that of CRIMES OF THE FUTURE and allusions to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, CRIMES OF THE FUTURE, FAST COMPANY, SHIVERS and STEREO affirmed the implicit Cronenberg addressing intent of the film. Curiously, the Sandman Inn room 237 mentioned in FAST COMPANY that reappeared as Overlook Hotel room 237 in THE SHINING not only reaffirmed the implicit Cronenberg roasting intent of THE SHINING, but was another eerie memory of the TZ disaster future, as the original room was numbered 217 in the allegorical Screamin’ Stephen King novel, The Shining (1977). These ominous memories of a twilit future also continued to haunt the film art of Cronenberg when he collaborated again with David, Heroux, Irwin, Sanders, Shore, Solnicki, Spier, Lynne Gorman-who played Mrs. Grant in NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE-and Reiner Schwarz-who played Doctor Birkin in THE BROOD-and implicitly refuted the implicit concern Kubrick expressed in THE SHINING that he was destroying himself with horrific allegorical film art by abandoning the genre and returning to the Temple Theatre with what is perhaps still his most baffling, controversial, idiosyncratic, original, memorable, mindbending and sensual allegorical film, VIDEODROME (1982).
‘We’re entering savage new times. And we’re gonna have to be pure, and direct, and strong
if we’re gonna survive them.’
Significantly, the film began with a video wake-up call from Bridey James-played by Julie Khaner-helpful secretary to Channel 83 CIVIC TV producer Max Renn-played by James Woods-on Wednesday the 23rd, again eerily anticipating the July 23, 1982 TZ disaster, the arrival of the twilit film art of Cameron and the release of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE in 1983. The fact that James addressed the camera during her wake-up call reaffirmed the anticipatory nature of the opening of the film, reminding us that breaking the fourth wall was a famous characteristic of the film art of Landis. Thus, it was fitting that Renn’s associate, Harlan-played by Peter Dvorsky-a television engineer, and their mutual friend, Videodrome promoter Barry Convex-played by Les Carlson-evoked Landis and Folsey jr.
And all too macabrely fitting that Harlan would not only joke at the end of the film that he had Renn’s head in a box, for the macabre jest anticipated the decapitation of Morrow in the TZ disaster, but that the special makeup designed and created by Rick Baker for VIDEODROME evoked his work on the allegorical Landis films SCHLOCK (1973) and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981), for the use of Baker openly linked the film to Landis. Turning Renn’s hallucinatory battle against Convex and Harlan and the snuff television of Videodrome into another memory of the future that anticipated the allegorical film art and fiction battle against Folsey and Landis after the TZ disaster. However, while eerily in tune with the twilit and disastrous year in which it was released, Cronenberg implied throughout VIDEODROME that he was actually blasting Sir Scott.
Indeed, the CIVIC TV commercial that preceded the video wake-up call from James reminded us that Sir Scott had directed television commercials for years in England before becoming an allegorical feature film artist. James reaffirmed the implicit link to Sir Scott, as she resembled Sigourney Weaver’s Science Officer Ellen Ripley in the eerily twilit and prescient Sir Scott film, ALIEN (1979). The carved wooden Japanese dildo in the ‘Samurai Dreams’ soft core porn series James reviewed soon after waking up reaffirmed the film’s interest in ALIEN, as it evoked the phallic chestburster in ALIEN, while the Japanese porn series itself evoked some Asian pinups seen on a wall of the space cargoship Nostromo in ALIEN. This allusion to the chestburster was openly made later in the film, in scenes where Renn’s stomach opened to receive or release living Videodrome videocassettes or an organic gun. The exploding television at the end of VIDEODROME also evoked the chestburster stage of the alien. The Videodrome headgear Renn wore at one point also linked the film to ALIEN, as the head enveloping unit evoked the facehugger stage of the alien.
Significantly, the clothes of Renn and Bianca O’Blivion-played by Sonja Smits, who fittingly resembled Kathryn Bigelow given that the allegorical Bigelow and Monty Montgomery film, THE LOVELESS (1982), appeared that year in the Temple Theatre-reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Sir Scott, as they evoked those worn by Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard and Sean Young’s Rachael Tyrell in BLADE RUNNER-which implicitly blasted Peter Hyams for roasting Sir Scott as a symbolic dealer in addictive films named Yario (played by Richard Hammat) in the allegorical Hyams film, OUTLAND (1981), the year before. The study of Bianca’s father, Doctor Brian O’Blivion-played by Jack Creley-also resembled the penthouse study of the implicitly Hyams linked Doctor Eldon Tyrell-played by Joe Turkel-in BLADE RUNNER, reiterating Cronenberg’s implicit interest in Sir Scott in VIDEODROME. This anticipation of the look of BLADE RUNNER was easily helped by all of the pre-release publicity photos of BLADE RUNNER that were released prior to the Fall 1981 shoot of VIDEODROME. The fact that VIDEODROME evoked the equally mindbending literary art of PKD also reaffirmed that Cronenberg was responding to BLADE RUNNER in VIDEODROME, reminding us that BLADE RUNNER was inspired in part by Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? Thus, with all of these allusions to ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER in VIDEODROME, Cronenberg implied that he was blasting Sir Scott in the symbolic form of Renn for all of the addictive violence in ALIEN and no doubt to come in BLADE RUNNER.
For his part, with troubled, psychic and amnesiac mystery patient John Doe 83 and his mother, Jerolyn-played by Zeljko Ivanek and Shirley Knight, respectively-resembling and implicitly linked to Cronenberg and Spier, Roger Christian implied that he was roasting Cronenberg and dismissing him as a weirdo with motherly Spier issues in his allegorical film, THE SENDER (1982), an implicit interest in Cronenberg that was affirmed by all of the film’s allusions to RABID, SCANNERS and THE BROOD. Curiously, Cronenberg clearly did not like the implication in THE SENDER, for he implicitly addressed Christian as well as Lynch and the TZ disaster when he teamed up again with with Campbell, Carlson, Dvorsky, Hinds, Irwin, Messinger, Sanders, Spier, Geza Kovacs-who played an Evil Scanner in SCANNERS-and Sean Sullivan-who played a probation officer in NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE-on the despairing twilit and allegorical film, THE DEAD ZONE (1983), inspired by the allegorical Screamin’ Stephen King novel, The Dead Zone (1979)-fittingly, given that Lally Cadeau’s television host Rena King had interviewed Renn and Debbie Harry’s Nicki Brand in VIDEODROME.
‘It wasn’t meant to be.’
That Cronenberg believed that a twilit new era of TZ disaster haunted film had begun on July 23, 1982, was confirmed over the course of the opening credits of this film. For the words THE DEAD ZONE slowly appeared on the screen, inexorably gobbling up fittingly dead and frozen still photographs of everyday life in the small town Maine setting of the novel-actually filmed in the Niagara Falls, Ontario region-still photos of the film’s setting that evoked the still photos that established the Starliner Island Apartment Complex at the beginning of SHIVERS, until finally the world of small town Maine-and, hence, of a small film town called Hollywood-was completely consumed by the words THE DEAD ZONE.
Significantly, after the twilit Dead Zone took over life in small town Maine and Hollywood, this voracious Dead Zone soon took over the life of slight and sensitive Maine high school English teacher John Smith-his name evoking Lonnie Johnson in FAST COMPANY, John Doe 83 in THE SENDER and John Landis, and memorably played by Christopher Walken. For after reading aloud the final stanza of the allegorical Edgar Allan Poe poem, ‘The Raven’ (1845), and assigning his class the allegorical Washington Irving story, ‘The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’ (1820), warning his students that it was about ‘…a schoolteacher who gets chased by a headless demon’-a headless and implacably pursuing demon that evoked the equally headless and vengeful ghost of Morrow and anticipated Walken’s role as the Headless Horseman in a Tim Burton film to come-a tragicomic car accident soon sent Smith into a five year coma.
Curiously, upon finally awakening in a private rehabilitation clinic presided over by Doctor Sam Weizak-played by Herbert Lom-Smith discovered to his disconcerted dismay that he now had the telepathic ability to see into and experience the lives of those who touched him. This ability to experience the past, present and future of others was the exact opposite of Doe 83’s ability to send his dreams, nightmares, pain and thoughts to others around him in THE SENDER, implicitly affirming that on one level Cronenberg was replying to that film in THE DEAD ZONE. This newfound telepathic ability also evoked the implicitly film artist linked telepaths of SCANNERS and STEREO, implicitly affirming that Smith was linked to a film artist, most likely Lynch.
Indeed, Smith’s resemblance to Lynch, and the resemblance of Smith’s father, Herb-played by Sullivan-to Mel Brooks, the actor/producer/writer who recruited Lynch to helm THE ELEPHANT MAN, affirmed the implicit Lynch addressing intent of THE DEAD ZONE. The sight of Smith being cared for by Dr. Weizak throughout the film also evoked the care Dr. Treves gave the elephantine Merrick throughout THE ELEPHANT MAN in another affirmation of the implicit Lynch addressing intent of THE DEAD ZONE. The resemblance of Dr. Weizak to film producer Dino De Laurentiis, reaffirmed the implicit interest in Lynch in THE DEAD ZONE. For De Laurentiis had been so impressed by THE ELEPHANT MAN, he had persuaded Lynch to work with his daughter, Raffaella, to create a cinematic version of the allegorical and implicitly Robert A. Heinlein roasting Frank Herbert novel, Dune (1965), which Lynch was struggling to create against all odds at the time of the release of THE DEAD ZONE. Of course, alluding to Dune reminded us that Paul ‘Maud’dib’ Atreides, the young hero of both novel and film-where he was played by Kyle MacLachlan-often suffered visions caused by the spice mélange from the forbidding desert planet of Arrakis, visions that anticipated and evoked the visions of Smith.
Thus, it was significant that after using his unexpected psychic powers to help the implicitly Lucas linked Castle Rock Sheriff George Bannerman-played by Tom Skerritt-out and defeat the implicitly Frank Marshall linked serial killer, Frank Dodd-played by Campbell-and his implicitly Kathleen Kennedy linked mother, Henrietta-played by Coleen Dewhurst-and to embarrass the implicitly Christian linked Roger Stuart-played by Anthony Zerbe-Smith was killed in the end trying to assassinate psychopathic and implicitly Folsey linked U.S. Senate and Presidential hopeful, Greg Stillson-played by Martin Sheen. For the death of the quirky and solitary Smith implied that Cronenberg believed that the equally quirky and solitary Lynch would also destroy himself trying to use his twilit and allegorical moving painting, DUNE (1984), to defeat those most responsible for the TZ disaster. Cronenberg’s intuition implicitly served him well, for Lynch did indeed almost destroy himself trying to cleanse the universe and bring harmony back to the Temple Theatre with DUNE. In addition, Stillson’s violent and implicitly Landis linked aide, Sonny-played by Kovacs-got off scott free at the end of THE DEAD ZONE, implying that Cronenberg sympathized with Landis.
At any rate, this implicit first salvo in the dread allegorical Zone Wars from a serious film artist not interested in callously disregarding the safety of cast and crew members in a madcap lust for blockbuster fortune and glory was just what audiences needed after the TZ disaster, and no doubt partly explained the success of the film and the rise in popularity of Cronenberg after 1982 after years of dismissive and scornful reviews of his film art. Curiously, the computer generated imagery (CGI) that was quickly developed after 1982 so as to digitally create dangerous effects sequences in order to avoid further set fatalities was missing from THE DEAD ZONE, a lack of emphasis on CGI that was a hallmark of Cronenberg’s film art after the TZ disaster and that reaffirmed his idiosyncratic indie path. An idiosyncratic and indie film art path that implicitly impressed W.D. Richter and made him hopeful that Cronenberg would save the world of serious film art, free it from the TZ disaster and those who caused it and win back audiences, for he implicitly linked Cronenberg David to the equally quirky, indie, multi-talented, Vale resembling and world saving inter-dimensional explorer/musician/neurosurgeon/samurai Buckaroo Banzai-played by Peter Weller-in the hilariously twilit and allegorical film, BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE EIGHTH DIMENSION (1984).
Indeed, Richter affirmed the implicit Cronenberg supporting intent with the trademark Cronenberg camera style and allusions to most if not all of the film art of Cronenberg up to that point, particularly FAST COMPANY. The resemblance of two of Banzai’s Hong Kong Cavaliers, Perfect Tommy and Rawhide-played by Lewis Smith and Clancy Brown, respectively-to Hampton of SHIVERS and Silverman reaffirmed Richter’s implicit interest in Cronenberg. Last but not least, Banzai’s fearless use of the legendary oscilliation overthruster evoked the equally fearless Wells using the vaporizing equalizer to trap the implicitly Cronenberg linked Jack the Ripper in infinity at the end of TIME AFTER TIME, affirming the implicit interest in Cronenberg in BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE EIGHTH DIMENSION. Curiously, after sympathetically roasting him in THE ELEPHANT MAN, Lynch went implicitly further than Richter and hoped that D. Paul Cronenberg would save the universe like the implicitly Cronenberg linked Paul ‘Maud’dib’ Atreides-a naturally powerful telepath like Vale-in DUNE, and affirmed his implicit support with the trademark Cronenberg camera style and allusions to SCANNERS, THE BROOD and THE DEAD ZONE. The fact that the spice mélange of Arrakis expanded the latent telepathic powers of Atreides also reaffirmed the implication that Atreides was linked to Cronenberg in DUNE, for it reminded us that that the synthetic liquid drug, ephemerol, was used to induce or reduce telepathy in people in SCANNERS.
The resemblance of Paul’s father, Duke Leto Atreides-played by Jurgen Prochnow-to Kastner and the fact that Duke Leto died reaffirmed the implicit interest in Cronenberg in DUNE, for it reminded us that Cronenberg was inspired by films like NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE and YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW to make film art, and that his father had passed on in 1973. The resemblances of loyal Atreides retainers Thufir Hawat and Duncan Idaho-played by Jones and Richard Jordan, respectively-to Kastner, Dr. Ruth and an Evil scanner assassin played by Denis Lacroix in SCANNERS also reaffirmed the implicit Cronenberg addressing intent of Lynch in DUNE. Even the film’s sound enhancing ‘weirding modules’ affirmed the implicit Cronenberg addressing intent, reminding us of how effectively and memorably rising sound levels were used to enhance the ESP mayhem of SCANNERS. Thus, it was fitting that the stillsuits worn by the loyal Fremen warriors of the desert planet of Arrakis who fought on the side of Paul and their leader, Stilgar-played by the fittingly surnamed Everett McGill-evoked Stillson in THE DEAD ZONE. It was also fitting that young Paul hailed from Caladan, a planet with a Canada cadenced name…Krull wahad!
As for Cronenberg, he implicitly reaffirmed his sympathy for Landis by appearing in a supporting cameo role in the twilit, morose and allegorical Landis film, INTO THE NIGHT (1985). Cronenberg reaffirmed his implicit support for Landis by using INTO THE NIGHT leading man Jeff Goldblum-who also played Sidney ‘New Jersey’ Zweibel in THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE EIGHTH DIMENSION-as the lead in his next twilit, slightly CGI enhanced and allegorical film, THE FLY (1986), made in collaboration again with Carlson, Irwin, Sanders, Shore and Spier.
‘Drink deep or taste not the plasma spring!’
Significantly, the film saw a Spielberg resembling and implicitly linked mad scientist, Seth Brundle-played by Goldblum-slowly transformed into a flyman after a teleportation experiment fused his DNA with that of an unnoticed fly in the telepod. This nightmarish transformation reminded us that since 1982, Spielberg had not only directed such shameless, placed product filled and movie tie-in merchandise promoting filmmercials as INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM and the allegorical and implicitly Lucas addressing film, E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982), but had also acted as a co-executive producer with Kennedy and Marshall on the twilit and allegorical film, GREMLINS (1984), and the twilit and allegorical Robert Zemeckis film, BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985). The latter film had not only been as much of a shameless filmmercial as E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL, but had also featured a hyperkinetic character named Marty McFly-played by Michael J. Fox-whose surname linked him to the beastly flyman of THE FLY. This link between BACK TO THE FUTURE and THE FLY was implicitly affirmed by the presence of an extra who resembled Fox seen behind Brundle as he pursued Veronica Quaife-played by Geena Davis-at the reception for the ART & SCIENCE exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario at the beginning of the film. Thus, Cronenberg implied that he was reaffirming his commitment to film art and striking back at Spielberg’s madcap and undisguised lust to achieve fortune and glory with the hyper-commercial BACK TO THE FUTURE in THE FLY.
The sight of the Cameron resembling Stathis Borans-played by John Getz-losing his left hand and his right foot to the acidic saliva of the blockbuster McFlyberg but overcoming those horrific injuries to help save Quaife and himself and kill McFlyberg, in the end, was fitting, as the denouement allowed an implicitly Canadian film artist to triumph over an implicitly American film artist in another implicit affirmation of the triumph of quirky and indie Canadian film art over that of commercial Hollywood film art in a Cronenberg film. Indeed, doubly fitting, as Spielberg linked and beastly blockbuster biomechanical aliens with acidic blood rampaged on screen that year in Cameron’s own twilit, righteously furious, and implicitly Dante and Spielberg roasting film, ALIENS (1986). Curiously, Cameron returned the nod with a monstrous alien birth scene at the beginning of ALIENS that evoked the monstrous fly maggot birth scene in THE FLY, making it clear that the two crazy Canucks were on the same Spielberg bashing wavelength in 1986.
Righteously furious meditations on Spielberg being taken over by his beastly blockbuster lusts that possibly continued when Cronenberg returned with Lack, Sanders, Shore, Spier and THE FLY costume designer Denise Cronenberg to macabrely recreate WINTER KEPT US WARM in his next twilit, CGI free and allegorical film, DEAD RINGERS (1988), co-written by Norman Snider, one of the performers in CRIMES OF THE FUTURE and the writer of SECRET WEAPONS in which he also played the Wise Man, and inspired by non-fiction book, Twins (1977), by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland.
‘Bev’s not into art.’
For the tragicomic story of twin gynecologists Beverly and Elliot Mantle-both played by Jeremy Irons-evoked the ‘twin’ relationship of Henry Thomas’ Elliot Thomas and E.T. in E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL, implying that Cronenberg was blasting Spielberg again in DEAD RINGERS. Significantly, as the confident and assertive Elliot’s lust for success destroyed the shy, sensitive and imaginative Beverly, causing a downward spiral of despair that destroyed both men and finally lead Beverly to kill Elliot in a mutant operation in another triumph of a shy and possibly gay man over a virile and supposedly hetero man as in WINTER KEPT US WARM, Cronenberg implied that Spielberg’s Dark lusts for blockbuster film success had destroyed his ability to create higher film art. Or was Cronenberg actually blasting Richter for toasting him in THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE EIGHTH DIMENSION, given that the Mantle twins resembled Richter and that twins played by Ellen Barkin featured in the Richter film? Or was it Kubrick, given that certain scenes evoked scenes in LOLITA and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY? Time and more thought would tell.
At any rate, the brothers were definitely linked to film, as they both shared an intimate relationship with Genevieve Bujold’s film actress, Claire Niveau, while Beverly’s name evoked Beverley Hills. The twins were also linked to the TZ disaster, for Niveau’s inability to conceive due to a ‘trifurcate uterus’ reminded us that film artists were unable to conceive TZ disaster free film art at the time due to the three victims of the TZ disaster. Indeed, Irons linked the film openly to the twilit and disastrous year of 1982 via his role as Nowak in Jerzy Skolimowski’s allegorical film, MOONLIGHTING (1982), thus confirming that Cronenberg was allegorically brooding on the twilit and disastrous year of 1982 in DEAD RINGERS.
Curiously, the increasing use of drugs by the Mantles as they fell apart over the course of the film anticipated Cronenberg’s next film when he teamed up with his core team of Cronenberg, Sanders, Shore, Spier and new director of photography Peter Suschitzky from DEAD RINGER and trusted veterans Campbell and Silverman to implicitly roast Lynch again in the twilit, allegorical and CGI free film, NAKED LUNCH (1991), inspired by the rambling, gleefully obscene and allegorical Burroughs compilation, Naked Lunch (1959).
‘The Zone takes care of its own.’
Indeed, the surreal and dream-like film began with William ‘Bill’ Lee-played by Weller-exterminating cockroaches in an apartment in New York City in 1953, immediately affirming the implicit Lynch roasting intent of NAKED LUNCH. For the sight reminded us that Jeffrey Beaumont-played by MacLachlan-briefly disguised himself as an exterminator in order to unravel the murderous mystery hidden within the apartment of Dorothy Vallens-played by Isabella Rossellini-equally surreal, dream-like, twilit and allegorical Lynch moving painting, BLUE VELVET (1986). The diner that Lee then visited evoked the diner in the small and murder haunted town of Twin Peaks, Washington in the twilit and allegorical Lynch telefilm series, TWIN PEAKS (1990-91), reaffirming the film’s implicit Lynch addressing intent. Returning to his apartment, we found that Lee’s wife, Joan-played by Judy Davis-evoked the implicitly Amy Irving linked Sarah Palmer-played by Grace Zabriskie-in TWIN PEAKS, again reaffirming the film’s implicit Lynch addressing intent. This link to TWIN PEAKS was reaffirmed by the Lee’s surname, for it evoked that of Sheryl Lee, who played Sarah’s murdered and implicitly L.A. linked daughter, Laura, in TWIN PEAKS.
The appearance later in the film of Joan Frost-also played by Davis-during the sequence in Interzone also linked the film to TWIN PEAKS via Mark Frost, the co-creator of the series with Lynch, reaffirming the implicit interest in Lynch in NAKED LUNCH. The neatly groomed and tailored Interzone Agent Lee also evoked the presence of the neatly groomed and tailored FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper-played by MacLachlan-in TWIN PEAKS, reaffirming the implicit Lynch addressing intent of Cronenberg in NAKED LUNCH. The dreamy and jazzy Shore soundtrack that evoked the soundtrack that Lynch’s favourite composer, Angelo Badalamenti, composed for TWIN PEAKS reaffirmed that Cronenberg was implicitly roasting Lynch in NAKED LUNCH. Last but not least, the highly addictive dried meat of the aquatic black centipede found in the notorious free port of Interzone evoked the equally addictive spice mélange created and guarded by the massive sandworms of Arrakis in DUNE. Thus, given that Lee’s murder of Joan Lee led to him being trapped in the notorious North African free port of Interzone after fleeing the Law in New York, and that Lee’s murder of Joan Frost led to Lee being allowed to leave Interzone for the sanctuary of Annexia, in the end, Cronenberg implied that Lynch had killed his film art by creating telefilms, and that he should kill his link to telefilms in order to go back to creating far more important moving paintings.
At any rate, the fearlessly creative film reaffirmed that Cronenberg was committed to creating idiosyncratic indie film art in Canada. A determined commitment that Cronenberg reaffirmed when he teamed up again with Cronenberg, Sanders, Shore, Spier and Suschitzky to again recreate WINTER KEPT US WARM with the thoughtful, mysterious, lyrical, CGI free-except for the opening titles-and allegorical film, M. BUTTERFLY (1993), inspired by the allegorical play, M. Butterfly (1988), by David H. Hwang.
‘Death with honour is better than life with dishonour.’
Curiously, with its allusions to such allegorical Spielberg fare as INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987) and HOOK (1991), Cronenberg implied that he was roasting Spielberg again in the film. Indeed, the return of Irons as Rene Gallimard, an accountant turned Vice-Consul of the Embassy of France in Sixties Beijing affirmed the implicit Spielberg addressing intent of M. BUTTERFLY, reminding us of the possibility that Irons was implicitly linked to Spielberg in DEAD RINGERS. The sight of Gallimard with his beautiful blonde wife, Jeanne-played by Barbara Sukowa-reaffirmed the film’s implicit Spielberg addressing intent, reminding us that Spielberg was married to the equally beautiful blonde actress Kate Capshaw by 1993. Thus, the sight of Gallimard being dismissed from the French Embassy, winding up divorced and on the skids back in Paris, being imprisoned for spying for China and to commiting suicide in front of his fellow prisoners while dressed as Madama Butterfly and singing the death aria of the allegorical Giacomo Puccini opera, MADAMA BUTTERFLY (1904), in the end, due to his love for the male Peking Opera singer and Chinese spy, Song Liling-played by John Lone-implied that Cronenberg felt that Spielberg had also destroyed his career and his reputation by this time due to ominous implications in EMPIRE OF THE SUN, HOOK and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM that he had known about the illegal use of Chen and Le on the Landis set of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE on that fateful and disastrous night but had done nothing to stop their use.
Significantly, and as in WINTER KEPT US WARM, an apparently virile and heterosexual male with a beautiful blonde female companion lost in the end to an apparently gay man. An apparently gay man of such seductive power that Gallimard preferred to believe that the affair was heterosexual despite knowing from the beginning that the female impersonating Liling was a man. This led to a curious case of bisexual denial on the part of the married Gallimard, rather than the expanded bisexuality and fully formed and three dimensional omnisexuality of STEREO, no doubt explaining why Gallimard did not develop psychic powers like Lee, Smith or Vale in NAKED LUNCH, THE DEAD ZONE and SCANNERS. A lack of omnisexual and telepathic ability that Gallimard ultimately paid for, as the feckless Frenchman did not learn from Liling’s thoughts that he was a Chinese secret agent milking him for French intelligence like a human mugwump for his spymasters in Beijing until it was too late.
Significantly, Gallimard’s suicide was a moving performance that brought the film full circle. For it reminded us that a suited Gallimard had first fell under the hypnotic sway of Liling while watching and listening to Liling perform the same role at a party at the Swedish embassy in Beijing at the beginning of the film, a beginning that was evoked by shots of a suited and masculine Liling, who had come to France for the trial, boarding a plane and heading back to China that were intercut with Gallimard’s final performance. These intercut scenes also implied that Liling was himself a powerful omnisexual telepath strong enough to use his telepathic powers to force Gallimard to kill himself. For the shots of Liling revealed that he was being escorted back to China by Chinese security officials. Sitting between the two men on the plane reminded us that Revok was sitting between two security men in the back of a car at the beginning of SCANNERS when he began to frowningly concentrate and use his telepathic powers to force the security men to kill each other, leading to the final man’s suicide. Thus, the sight of Liling’s thoughtful and frowning face as he sat between his security escort intercut with Gallimard committing suicide implied that Liling was the Revok-like puppet master of Gallimard’s suicide, affirming that he was indeed the ultimate telepathic omnisexual in the films of Cronenberg.
For his part, Robert Longo implicitly and ironically came to the support of the CGI eschewing Cronenberg in the form of cybersattva Johnny Mnemonic-played by Keanu Reeves-in the exuberantly CGI enhanced and allegorical film, JOHNNY MNEMONIC (1995). Indeed, Longo affirmed his implicit interest in Cronenberg by alluding to SCANNERS and VIDEODROME, and by using Sukowa and Denis Akiyama as the cyber ghost in the machine, Anna Kalmman, and the Evil Shinji, respectively, for Akiyama had a bit part as a pharmacist in DEAD RINGERS and Sukowa played Mrs. Jeanne Gallimard in M. BUTTERFLY. Perhaps inspiring Cronenberg to implicitly roast Lynch again when he returned with Cronenberg, Sanders, Shore, Spier and Suschitzky on his next twilit, CGI free and allegorical film, CRASH (1996).
‘Is this part of the act or are they really hurt?’
Indeed, like NAKED LUNCH, CRASH was done in the same allegorical, surreal, dream-like sensual, erotic, violent and twilit style of most of the allegorical post-TZ disaster moving paintings of Lynch, particularly BLUE VELVET, TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME and WILD AT HEART (1990) complete with a Lynchian fascination with the Fifties and a mysterious and beautiful blonde in the form of Deborah K. Unger’s Catherine Ballard who evoked Laura Dern’s Lula Fortune in WILD AT HEART. The resemblance of Catherine’s film/telefilm artist husband, James Ballard-played by James Spader-to Lynch reaffirmed the implicit Lynch roasting intent of CRASH. Thus, the fact that Ballard was haunted by automobile crashes and premature ejaculation throughout the film implied that Cronenberg believed that Lynch had crashed and burned prematurely indeed with TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, which had been jeeringly rejected by audiences and reviewers, an implicit intent affirmed by the allusions to TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME in CRASH.
Significantly, this implicit satirical roasting did not go unnoticed, as Lynch implicitly and furiously roasted Cronenberg and CRASH in turn in his next twilit and allegorical moving painting, LOST HIGHWAY (1997). Ang Lee also implicitly addressed Cronenberg in the form of Fantastic Four loving teen Paul Hood-played by Tobey Maguire-that year in his twilit and allegorical film, THE ICE STORM (1997)-and anticipated an implicitly Cronenberg addressing, Maguire starring and webslinging film from Marvel Comics to come. As for Cronenberg, he implicitly put the two roasts on the back burner when he teamed up again with Cronenberg, Holm, Sanders, Shore, Silverman, Spier and Suschitzky to explore other twilit and allegorical concerns in his slightly CGI enhanced, ambiguous and allegorical next film, eXistenZ (1999).
‘Hey, tell me the truth: are we still in the game?’
Curiously, at times the film seemed to be implicitly addressing the William Gibson scripted JOHNNY MNEMONIC-given that eXistenZ shared the same interest in virtual reality seen in the allegorical literary art of Gibson and in JOHNNY MNEMONIC-at other times the twilit and allegorical, Cameron co-written and co-produced Kathryn Bigelow film, STRANGE DAYS (1995), and at still other times the return of Lucas to the Temple Theatre that year with the allegorical and implicitly Cameron and Spielberg roasting film, STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999). Certainly the presence of Willem Dafoe as mercurial mechanic Gas openly linked the film to Bigelow via his role as the biker Vance in the allegorical Bigelow and Lafayette ‘Monty’ Montgomery film, THE LOVELESS (1982). One thing seemed to be certain was that the film implicitly explored the struggles that were raging at the time between film artists who were opposed to using CGI to enhance film art or who urged film artists not to lose track of the vital humanity of film art if they did embrace CGI-symbolized by the Realist Underground-and film artists who embraced CGI enhanced film art.
The fact that eXistenZ also ended with the main characters Allegra Geller and the possibly Lucas linked Ted Pikul-played by Jennifer J. Leigh and Jude Law, respectively-no longer certain if they were in the real world or the CGI enhanced world implied that Cronenberg was also warning those film artists that were embracing CGI enhancement to not lose track of reality in the new millennium. And meditating on how the TZ disaster had led to this obsession with CGI enhanced film art so as to prevent further fatal disasters on film sets, given that Leigh was not only one of the daughters of Morrow, but was also linked to 1982 via her role as Stacy Hamilton in the allegorical Amy Heckerling film, FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982).
Curiously, given its many allusions to DUNE, JOHNNY MNEMONIC, NAKED LUNCH, SCANNERS and THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE EIGHTH DIMENSION, the Wachowski Sibling implied that the triumph of cybersattva John ‘Neo’ Anderson-played by Reeves-over the CGI machine world symbolized the ironic triumph of Cronenberg and his non-CGI enhanced film art over that of the CGI enhanced blockbuster beast in their twilit and allegorical film, THE MATRIX (1999). For his part, after appearing in a Cronenberg film, Defoe soon returned to the Temple Theatre as Max Schreck aka Count Orlock in the implicitly Cronenberg roasting E. Elias Merhige film, SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000), which satirically likened the Canadian film auteur and his obsessive quest to create uniquely horrific allegorical film art to the equally obsessive quest of F.W. Murnau-played by John Malkovich-to create the uniquely horrific allegorical film, NOSFERATU (1922). The same year, Bryan Singer implied that he thought that Cronenberg was worthy of a super satire in the implicit form of Eric ‘Magneto’ Lehnsherr-played by Ian McKellen-in the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and SCANNERS evoking film, X-MEN (2000).
As for Cronenberg, he rejoined Carlson to reflect on life, art, aging, death and the TZ disaster, and lament the passing of the celluloid camera era and its film art and artists and the arrival of a strange new millennium of digital film art in his short, twilit and CGI free allegorical film, CAMERA (2000), a film that had Carlson’s wistful and haunted actor sadly note that ‘…children and death make a bad combination’, a comment that summed up the dread allegorical Zone Wars. Zone Wars that continued when Sir Scott implicitly roasted Cronenberg in the form of the shrewd, cultured, darkly humourous and gleefully violent Doctor Hannibal Lector in his twilit, macabre and allegorical film, HANNIBAL (2001). Cronenberg then kicked off the new millennia and marked the twentieth anniversary year of the TZ disaster by continuing an old feud when he implicitly thrashed Lynch yet again for the thrashing he implicitly received in LOST HIGHWAY and perhaps also dissed the latest twilit and allegorical Lynch moving painting, MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001), when he teamed up again with Cronenberg, Sanders, Shore and Suschitsky on his next allegorical and CGI free film, SPIDER (2002), inspired by the allegorical novel, Spider (1990), by Patrick McGrath.
‘What have you done?’
Indeed, the sight and sound of Dennis ‘Spider’ Cleg-played by Ralph Fiennes-looking, talking, acting and smoking like Lynch throughout the film implicitly affirmed that Cronenberg was roasting Lynch again in SPIDER. The fact that Cleg’s name evoked that of Terence A. Clegg, who was in charge of production for THE ELEPHANT MAN, reaffirmed the film’s implicit Lynch addressing intent, reminding us that THE ELEPHANT MAN was the first Lynch film to implicitly address Cronenberg. The film’s many allusions to BLUE VELVET, DUNE, LOST HIGHWAY, THE ELEPHANT MAN and other surreal and allegorical Lynch moving paintings as ERASERHEAD (1977) and THE GRANDMOTHER (1970), also implicitly reaffirmed that Cronenberg was roasting Lynch again in SPIDER. Thus, the fact that Spider was haunted by the fact that as a boy-played by Bradley Hall-he had killed his Good and gentle brunette mother, Mrs. Cleg-played by Miranda Richardson-after he had become convinced that his mother had already been murdered by his father, Bill-played by Gabriel Byrne-and replaced by an Evil, blonde and implicitly Hollywood linked witch named Yvonne-also played by Richardson-implied that Cronenberg believed that Lynch was also a delusional and memory haunted child man whose obsessions with the Dark and Twilit Side of Hollywood had killed his Good and gentle film art.
For his part, Neil Jordan implicitly disagreed with Cronenberg that same year, implicitly toasting Lynch in the form of painting loving and down on his luck gambling thief, Bob Montana-played by Nick Nolte-and implicitly roasting Cronenberg in the form of police inspector Roger-played by Tcheky Karyo-in the allegorical film, THE GOOD THIEF (2002). At any rate, how fitting that the year of the release of SPIDER saw Sam Raimi implicitly and ironically link the CGI eschewing Cronenberg to a CGI enhanced superhero and remind the sexual subversion and violence loving auteur that with great allegorical cinematic power came great responsibility in another twilit and exuberantly CGI enhanced allegorical film, SPIDER-MAN (2002), released in the fortieth anniversary month and year of the first appearance of the character created for Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in AMAZING FANTASY #15.
‘Wealth and fame, he’s ignored.’
Curiously, linking Cronenberg to the webslinging and smart mouthing superhero was an excellent choice. For the shy, geeky, bespectacled, science and photography loving teen, Peter Parker-played by Maguire-whose hybrid and webslinging superhero alter ego, Spider-Man, was feared and loathed by the people and police of New York reminded us that the early film art of the equally shy, geeky, bespectacled, science and motion picture loving Cronenberg was also feared and loathed by society. The sight and sound of the exuberantly tyrannical DAILY BUGLE editor, J. Jonah Jameson-played to perfection by J.K. Simmons-reaffirmed the film’s allegorical intent, reminding us that audiences were turned against the early film art of Cronenberg by vitriolic reviews in magazine and newspapers. Allusions to the equally freakish, hybrid, unusually strong and ceiling and wallcrawling flyman of THE FLY and the choice of locations in New York that evoked Cronenberg’s hometown of Toronto reaffirmed the implicit Cronenberg satirizing intent of SPIDER-MAN. The film’s allusions to the Toronto created and allegorical Julian Roffman film, THE MASK (1961), also affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Toronto and its film art and film artists.
The return of Defoe as the implicitly Ivan Reitman linked supervillain Norman ‘Green Goblin’ Osborn also affirmed the implicit intent of SPIDER-MAN. Last but not least, the sound of the famous Paul Webster written, Bob Harris composed and Canadian sung theme for the allegorical Ralph Bakshi cartoon series, SPIDER-MAN (1967-70), wrapping up the credits for the film openly affirmed the link of SPIDER-MAN to Canada, as the popular cartoon series was a CanAm co-production voiced probably in Toronto by Canadian actors, including Paul Soles, who voiced Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker and was fittingly born and raised in Toronto like Cronenberg. Curiously, the fact that Parker was transformed into the CGI enhanced Spider-Man by the bite of a genetically and CGI enhanced super spider created from the RNA of three spiders also affirmed that CGI was perfected after the deaths of Chen, Le and Morrow in the TZ disaster so as to prevent more film set fatalities.
Significantly, unlike DUNE but like THE MATRIX, SPIDER-MAN was a resounding success. An ironic success, given that the CGI enhanced superhero that audiences turned to for reassurance and inspiration so soon after 911 and in the twentieth anniversary year of the TZ disaster was implicitly linked to a film artist whose film art was mostly free of the CGI enhancement that was perfected so as to avoid future film set disasters and that those same audiences had treated with fear and loathing for decades-though this fear was somehow fitting, given that the heroes of Marvel Comics tended to be dark, troubled and monstrous, unlike the squeaky clean cut heroes of Detective Comics. Perhaps audiences subconsciously realized this ironic contradiction, given that the popular acceptance and lionization of Cronenberg began around this time. It was also noticeable that the triumph of the indie and mutated but fully organic Spider-Man-literally, as Raimi’s Spidey produced his web himself rather than with custom built web shooters-over the corporate and mechanically assisted Green Goblin implicitly equated with the triumph of Cronenberg’s film art for film art’s sake over the CGI enhanced blockbuster beast. Ironically, a year after Spiderberg battled to save New York from Gobby, Singer again implicitly linked Cronenberg to Eric ‘Magnet’ Lehnsherr-played again by McKellen-in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film, X-MEN 2 (2003), making Cronenberg an implicit CGI enhanced superhero and supervillain at the same time. As for the Wachowski Siblings, an implicit triumph of a character linked to Cronenberg and his film art for film art’s sake over the CGI enhanced blockbuster machine continued in the twilit, ironically CGI enhanced and allegorical films, THE MATRIX RELOADED (2003) and MATRIX REVOLUTIONS (2003).
For the siblings implied that the détente reached by cybersattva John ‘Neo’ Anderson-played again by Reeves-between the last indomitable and underground remnants of humanity and the machine world symbolized their hope that Cronenberg would help film artists of the Realist Underground achieve a balance between reality and CGI in film art. A harmony between humanity and CGI achieved by Raimi in his twilit, ironically CGI enhanced and allegorical film, SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004), which saw idiosyncratic indie film art again triumph over the blockbuster machine when the again implicitly Cronenberg linked Peter ‘Spiderman’ Parker-played again by Maguire-confronted and defeated the mechanically enhanced, multi-limbed and implicitly Lynch linked supervillain, Doctor Otto ‘Doctor Octopus’ Octavian-played by Alfred Molina. A hope soon dashed by Cronenberg, for he eschewed CGI yet again when he returned with Cronenberg, Sanders, Shore, Spier and Suschitzky to implicitly address Raimi in his next twilit, CGI free and allegorical film, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005), based on the allegorical John Wagner and Vince Locke graphic novel, A History Of Violence (1997).
‘Little hero saves the day at the last minute, right?’
Indeed, the resemblance of Viggo Mortensen’s small town diner owner/manager Tom Stall to Maguire’s Parker implicitly affirmed that Cronenberg was addressing Raimi and the Spiderberg films in A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. And with the film’s brutal and bloody violence wryly reminding Raimi that real violence was a lot more nasty than the comic book violence of SPIDER-MAN and SPIDER-MAN 2. The revelation that Stall, like Parker, had a secret identity also wryly mocked the Spiderberg films. For in this case the secret identity was not that of a benevolent and virtuous superhero but that of a notoriously violent ex-gangster named Joe Cusack hiding away from his troubled past in a witness protection program. However, given that Stall/Cusack killed all of the gangsters sent out to his small town to kill him and then drove to Philadelphia to face down his past, his old gang and his implicitly Lucas linked brother, Richie Cusack-played by William Hurt-before returning to his small town and family, in the end, Cronenberg implied his hope that Raimi would free himself from beastly and CGI enhanced blockbuster lusts and return to his indie film art. An implicit hope that was lost on Brett Ratner, for he implicitly linked Cronenberg to Eric ‘Magneto’ Lehnsherr-played again by McKellen-in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006). Then it was off to implicitly roast Lynch yet again and Jordan when Cronenberg teamed up again with Cronenberg, Mortensen, Sanders, Shore, Spier and Suschitzky again and returned to the Temple Theatre with his next twilit, CGI free and allegorical film, EASTERN PROMISES (2007).
‘Now I live in the Zone all the time.’
Indeed, elderly and London based Russian mob boss, Semyon-played by Armin Mueller-his son, Kirill-played by Vincent Cassell-and his favourite driver, Nikolai-played by Mortensen-evoked Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and his nephews, ‘Beast’ Rabban and Feyd Rautha-played by Paul Smith and Sting, respectively-in DUNE throughout the film, affirming the implicit Lynch addressing intent of EASTERN PROMISES. The resemblance of Semyon to longtime Lynch actor collaborator, Jack Nance-who played Nefud in DUNE-the allusions to TWIN PEAKS and TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME and the appearance of Naomi Watts, who played Betty Elms/Diane Selwyn in MULHOLLAND DRIVE, as an Anglo-Russian midwife named Anna Ivanovna reaffirmed the implicit interest in Lynch in EASTERN PROMISES. The fact that Semyon’s gang liked to launder money through their Arthur Clegg Painting and Decorating business also reaffirmed the implicit interest in Lynch in EASTERN PROMISES, for the name of the ‘legitimate’ business evoked the implicit link of Lynch to Dennis ‘Spider’ Cleg in SPIDER.
The film’s bleak and uncompromising look at luring naïve and innocent teenage girls from eastern Europe, Russia and Ukraine to London to work as prostitutes also evoked the Eastern European and L.A. prostitutes in the then latest twilit and allegorical Lynch moving painting, INLAND EMPIRE (2006), as well as the surprisingly and disappointingly flippant approach to that serious topic in THE GOOD THIEF. Thus, the sight and sound of Anna working with the implicitly Lynch linked and Nick Nolte evoking Nikolai, who turned out to be a Russian secret agent, to have Semyon arrested for the rape and murder of a young Russian teenager named Tatiana-played by Sarah J. Labrosse and voiced by Tatiana Maslany, respectively-who was lured from Russia into a life of sex slavery in London implied the hope of Cronenberg that Jordan and Lynch would understand the seriousness of the prostitution trade after watching EASTERN PROMISES. And would work to help create a better life for all, as seen by Nik’s rescue of Christine, the baby that resulted from Semyon’s rape of Tatiana, who Nik took from the implicitly Jordan linked Kirill before he could kill her and gave to Anna for safekeeping, in the end.
As for Raimi, he did his best to wrap up the Spiderberg Trilogy on a fittingly trimatic note with the again implicitly Croenberg linked Peter ‘Spiderman’ Parker-played again by Maguire-rising to the defense of indie film art and New York by taking on and defeating the mainstream Hollywood and implicitly Cameron linked Edward ‘Venom’ Brock jr.-played by Topher Grace-the implicitly Jason Reitman linked Harry ‘Goblin Junior’ Osborn-played by James Franco-and the possibly Clint Eastwood linked Flint ‘the Sandman’ Marko-played by Thomas H. Church-in the twilit, ironically CGI enhanced and allegorical film, SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007). Indeed, the film’s allusions to NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE and the twilit and allegorical Reitman film, GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), affirmed the film’s implicit interest in the Reitmans and Toronto film art and film artists. As for Cronenberg, he soon teamed up again with Cronenberg, Mortensen, Sanders, Shore, Suschitzky and Vincent Kassel-who played Kirill in EASTERN PROMISES-and return to the Temple Theatre with his next twilit and slightly CGI enhanced allegorical film, A DANGEROUS METHOD (2011).
‘What do you think it means?’
Curiously, the isolated sanitorium and its disturbed patients seen at the beginning of the film initially recalled the Canadian Academy of Erotic Enquiry of STEREO. A fitting link to the Toronto shot film, for the sanitorium and its director, the ardent, idealistic and ESP-and, hence, film art-obsessed Dr. Karl Jung-played by Michael Fassbender-were both implicitly linked to Toronto and its film art, artists and scholars throughout the film. In fact, Jung’s fascination with delving beneath the surface of life and people to discover ‘…what’s really going on’ also recalled my own work at www.zonewarsonfilm.com, implying that there was a link between Carl Gustav Jung and Gary William Wright. Indeed, Jung’s obsession with understanding Sigmund Freud, Otto Gross and Sabina Spielrein-played by Mortensen, Cassell and Keira Knightley, respectively-evoked my obsession with understanding the allegorical film art of the film artists of the dread allegorical Zone Wars, reaffirming that additional implicit intent of A DANGEROUS METHOD. The presence of Toronto native Sarah Gadon as Jung’s wife Emma reaffirmed this implicit intent, for she openly linked Jung to Toronto in a way that evoked my birthplace of North York. The choice of Austrian locations for the film that evoked the Toronto harbour front and Toronto Island reaffirmed the implicit interest in Toronto area film artists and scholars in A DANGEROUS METHOD.
Curiously, another Emma-this one Emma Stone-appeared as Gwen Stacy, the implicit symbol of Cronenberg’s film art, when Cronenberg was again implicitly linked to a teenage Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker-this time played by Andrew Garfield, who looked like the post-millenial Cronenberg with his contact lenses and combed straight up spiky hair-in another desperate battle of indie film art against the CGI enhanced blockbuster beast in the form of the implicitly Gareth Edwards linked Doctor Curt ‘the Lizard’ Connors-played by Rhys Ifans-as the Spiderberg chronicles continued in the twilit and allegorical Marc Webb film, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012). The presence of Sheen as Parker’s doomed Uncle Ben Parker affirmed Spidey’s implicit link to Cronenberg, reminding us that Sheen played the psychotic Stillson in THE DEAD ZONE. Sir Scott also implicitly roasted Cronenberg in the implicit form of the soulless android, David-played by Fassbender-in the twilit, CGI enhanced and allegorical film, PROMETHEUS (2012).
At any rate, the implicit interest in the GTA’s idiosyncratic and indie film artists-and perhaps even its equally idiosyncratic and indie film scholars-in A DANGEROUS METHOD reappeared along with Campbell and Gadon in ANTIVIRAL (2012), the first allegorical feature film of Cronenberg’s son, Brandon Cronenberg, which explored the diseased nature of celebrity and Zone War obsessions. A first feature film that Cronenberg implicitly addressed when he teamed up again with Cronenberg, Gadon, Sanders, Shore and Suschitzky for the allegorical and CGI free film, COSMOPOLIS (2013).
‘My prostrate is asymmetrical.’
Indeed, the return of Gadon as Elise Shifrin, the love interest of Robert Pattinson’s Eric Packer, and the resemblance of Packer to the diseased and tormented Syd March-played by Caleb L. Jones-in ANTIVIRAL affirmed that implication. Or did Packer really symbolize Jason Reitman? Time would also tell. For their part, the new Cronenberg resembling and implicitly linked tenth Doctor Who-played by Peter Capaldi-who began his tenure in 2013 and departed in 2017, implied that the BBC were roasting Cronenberg on their long running telefilm series. That same year, James Mangold implicitly linked Cronenberg again to Eric ‘Magneto’ Lehnsherr-played again by McKellen-in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film, THE WOLVERINE (2013). Singer also implicitly linked Cronenberg to Eric ‘Magneto’ Lehnsherr-played again by McKellen-when he returned to the Temple Theatre with the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014).
As for Cronenberg, after implicitly addressing his son in COSMOPOLIS, Cronenberg implicitly returned to roasting the poor ol’ Gardevil as in A DANGEROUS METHOD when, after a lifetime implicitly roasting Hollywood film art, he returned with Cronenberg, Gadon, Pattinson, Sanders, Spier and Suschitzky to openly roast Hollywood and its film art and artists in his next and slightly CGI enhanced allegorical film, MAPS TO THE STARS (2014).
‘I love Carrie!...and I know Garry!’
For the quest of Mia Waskowska’s creepy and film obsessed Agatha Weiss to reveal the truth about the incestuous relationship of her parents, Christina and Stafford Weiss-played by Olivia Williams and John Cusack, respectively-who were twin siblings that were separated from birth and who unknowingly married each other, and to strike back at the allegorical film that was made about her-BAD BABYSITTER (2011), evoked my own quixotic quest to reveal the truth about the dread allegorical Zone Wars and blast Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody for roasting me in their allegorical film, YOUNG ADULT (2011). Indeed, Cronenberg implicitly affirmed that he was meditating on my film roasted self with all sorts of positive allusions to Kimberly Peirce’s allegorical film, CARRIE (2013), a film that implicitly rushed to my defense and allowed my symbolic self-Chloe Moretz’ Carrie White-to symbolically destroy Cody and Reitman in the form of mean teens Chris and Billy-played by Portia Doubleday and Alex Russell, respectively-in the righteously furious telepathic end in retaliation for making a nasty video of Carrie with a cell phone and posting it to the internet. The fact that Agatha destroyed Chris and Stafford in the end like Carrie destroyed Chris and Billy confirmed Cronenberg’s implicit allegorical intent in MAPS TO THE STARS.
The choice of Julianne Moore as troubled Hollywood star Havana Segrand reaffirmed that intent, as Moore played Carrie’s mother, Mrs. Margaret White, in CARRIE. Curiously, the return of Moore caused her to symbolically die again, as Agatha killed Havana in the end like Carrie killed Margaret. As the appearance of Wasikowska evoked her role as Hannah in Richard Ayoabe’s Cronenberg roasting film, THE DOUBLE (2013), Cronenberg also implied that he was striking back at Ayoabe as well in MAPS TO THE STARS. Curiously, Cronenberg also implied an interest in Cody, Reitman and Wright again in his twilit and allegorical novel, Consumed (2014).
‘ “The internet is now a forum for public prosecution.” ’
Indeed, Cronenberg implied that young, sex mad and twisted photojournalists Naomi Seberg and Nathan Math and the mysterious and Toronto residing Doctor Barry Roiphe symbolized Diablo, Reitman and Wright, respectively, throughout the novel. The docufeature film artist who eschewed digital film and CGI enhancement of his film art also ironically embraced the digital world and CGI enhancement of film in Consumed. Or did he? Perhaps inspiring Garfield and Webb to return for more implicitly Cronenberg satirizing and indie film art defending Spiderberg adventures in their twilit and allegorical film, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (2014), which may have also roasted Gary Wright in the implicit form of the new Harry ‘Green Goblin’ Osborn-played by Dane DeHaan. At any rate, reaffirmed did the high quality of MAPS OF THE STARS the indomitable lifelong commitment of Cronenberg to advancing audiences and to putting an indelible, indomitable, mostly CGI free and fearlessly idiosyncratic and Toronto school influenced indie Canadian stamp on the shape of film art.
Burroughs, William S. Naked Lunch. New York: Grove Press,
Cowan, Noah and David Liss. David Cronenberg: transfor-
mation. TIFF/MOCCA/-Volumina: Italy, 2013.
Cronenberg, David. Consumed. Toronto: Hamish Hamilton,
Fangoria Legends and TIFF Present: David Cronenberg.
New York: The Brooklyn Company, 2013.
Grunberg, Serge, ed. David Cronenberg: interviews with
Serge Grunberg. Plexus Publishing Limited, 2006.
King, Stephen. The Dead Zone. New York: Signet, 1980.
Morris, Peter. David Cronenberg: a delicate balance. Toronto:
EWC Press, 1994.