Shivers – Collector’s Series (Blu-ray Review)

Well, well, well. Look who’s back in the time of the pandemic. Its Vestron Video! A sub-label from Lionsgate many thought had been put six feet under. There was word that new titles were being worked on but its been over a year a the least since one has come out. Now, its back with two pretty fun ones to resurrect the series. First, the American debut of David Cronenberg’s Shivers. Arrow previously released the film in the UK, but from what I gathered it was one that the fans were hoping would get a make-over. Vestron Video brings it here with a nice load of new features and pretty cool new cover art. The film was released back on September 5th and is available at an insanely low price to start with considering what these used to be.



After a scientist living in a posh apartment complex slaughters a teen girl and kills himself, investigators discover that the murderer had been carrying on experiments involving deadly parasites. Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton), a doctor living in the building, and his aide, Nurse Forsythe (Lynn Lowry), then realize that the parasites are on the loose, attacking fellow tenants. And those who become hosts turn into erotically obsessed maniacs who pass the bugs on through violent sex.

I have a little soft spot for watching the early Cronenbergs. There’s a look and a feel to them sort of on its own, but reminiscent of what George Romero was doing in Pittsburgh but in Canada instead. Perhaps its independent North American horror films or that they feature a lot of flesh and flesh devouring, but my feelings still stand. Shivers isn’t so much the devouring in a digestive sense as it is a more sexualized one.

Everything about Shivers presents what we would come to know when it comes to David Cronenberg’s horror output. His first feature length film revolves around these gross little parasites. Through this we see the explorations of body trauma, mutilation and horror. Oh, but don’t stop there, these parasites inspire their hosts into a hyper sexual appetite. And there you have it, what we experience is bit of a beta test of what would later be the hallmarks of his craftsmanship.

In terms of the character-work, its a little colder and distant. There are sympathetic individuals here, but its very static and window dress for what you can clearly see intrigues Cronenberg more. And it should be taken a little less under that lens and more at a level where you are trying to understand what Cronenberg is truly setting out to accomplish. Iconic actor Barbara Steele is present in a supporting role and just her presence commands your attention and intrigue. Even moreso than characters that take priority over her in the story.

If you’re into Cronenberg, if you’re into 70s horror or you like to just see something accomplish as much as they can with as little available to them, then Shivers is a treat.  To boot, its also a terrific pick for a midnight movie or even to double feature with his other early work, Rabid. Shivers gives you zombie-like thrills, creature spooks, horror erotica, body horror, and that confined area setting. Simply, there’s a lot going on for this little movie.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Perhaps it the age and means of the time, but Shivers United States Blu-ray debut has a bit of a washed out look to it. For me, I dig the image as it has the feel of some older film stock and a genuine Midnight movie aesthetic. Its a crisp, well rounded image that carries some solid grain and plenty of details and textures in the image.

Depth: The dimension here check out pretty well thanks to the luxury of keeping the grain intact. There’s a solid pushback for the backgrounds on display and the characters look well rounded and roam freely and loosely throughout the frames. No motion distorations present.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and provide rather good shading and nighttime chills. Minimal information hidden in the darkest surfaces or black hair follicles. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Blood is nice a bold here in the image. As mentioned before, it has a sort of bleached appearance to it, so the colors reflect that. But, most of the film deals in natural, with whites browns and such being a majority of the palette.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a bit washed out and consistent start to finish. Facial features showcase best in close ups where you can take in make-up, freckles, stubble and more with some medium shots carrying decent visible facial texture.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Shivers has a decent little mono track to accompany it. It definitely carries its analog roots along with it. But, it makes for a bit of throwback genuine feel to the viewing. While nothing is at some prestigious level, its effective as it needs to be and an overall genuine old theatrical experience in feeling.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals have solid clarity and a little analog his under them. Everything is plenty audible, though slightly dated sounding.


Shivers – Collector’s Series comes with a redeemable digital code.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer-Director David Cronenberg
  • With Co-Producer Don Carmody

Mind Over Matter (HD, 12:01) – An brand new interview with Writer/Director David Cronenberg.  He talks his desire to shoot in Canada and stay away from Hollywood. David talks the people on the films he worked with and how they were a much better learning tool than any film school. There’s an interesting take from him on how his early films found distributions (Their multiple titles) and the legacy they left along the way.

Good Night Nurse (HD, 16:54) – An new interview with actress Lynn Lowry. “Its just an iconic film.” She’s plenty bubbly discussing the film and has quite a clear recollection of events, attitudes and fun she had on the film (Accidentally stabbing a costar in a moment). She found her big monologue strange and never imagined it’d be heavily quoted to her by fans at conventions. “I’ve gotten more attention from that film and that pool scene than anything I’ve ever done.”

Outside and Within (HD, 12:55) – An new interview with special make-up effects creator Joe Blasco. “We make mistakes in our career” he says as he tells of passing on Easy Rider and Dawn of the Dead.  Reading the script he thought it was like a porno film, but Barbara Steele’s involvement was what made him say yes and demand to do her makeup. He goes over helping Cronenberg with lighting and shooting and how and what he used to get the effects on this movie. Its a fun, detailed look at some of the gruesome moments in the film.

Celebrating Cinepix: The Legacy of John Dunning (HD, 10:05) – John Dunning’s son, Greg, recalls the way his father was with film, critics and whathaveyou from memories his mother shared and his own experience. He talks work on Shivers as well as his father having women protagonists when nobody else was. This is a nice little tribute to his father, and mentioned that his father was working on “My Bloody Valentine The 2nd” when he passed.

Archival 1998 David Cronenberg Interview (SD, 21:16) – This is a pretty cool, VHS sourced, interview with Cronenberg on a neat little set with a Shivers poster lurking in the background. This interview really completes the room…er, disc.

Still Gallery w/ Optional Archival Audio Interview with Executive Producer John Dunning (HD, 8:37) 

Still Gallery (HD, 8:01) 

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 3:01) 

TV Spot (HD, 1:03) 

Radio Spots (HD, 2:17)


Shivers is primal Cronenberg and a fascinating visit to see his gruesome origins. It plays like a beta test for what would come. The film is also pretty solid at the end of the day, with many memorable moments, and terrific effects. Vestron Video return with a pretty solid presentation and a treasure trove of great new and old extras. Its astounding that this is only $10. If you’re curious, the risk is so very little here and I’m sure this’ll wind up a collector’s item someday.

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