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A sluglike parasite transforms the swinging residents of a Montreal condo into a legion of sex-crazed zombies, in David Cronenberg's controversial first professional feature.
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Set in an oppressively modernist Montreal apartment block, Cronenberg's first professional feature (also released as The Parasite Murders and They Came From Within) chronicles the gruesome consequences that result when a renegade scientist unleashes an aphrodisiacal parasite. As the sluglike organism makes its way through the building, transforming the swinging condo residents into a legion of sex-crazed homicidal maniacs, a doctor and nurse race to try and stop the parasite before it infects the entire city. A provocatively and troublingly ambivalent comment on the sexual revolution, Shivers caused a national scandal upon its release: journalist Robert Fulford attacked the film in Saturday Night magazine, decrying the taxpayer dollars expended upon it; the debate eventually reached the House of Commons, and Cronenberg even claims that it resulted in him being evicted from his apartment by his landlord. Nevertheless, Shivers outlived its controversial debut to be acclaimed as a modern horror classic — not to mention the most commercially successful film ever funded by the CFDC.