Shivers, released in the United States with the more titillating title They Came From Within, may technically not be David Cronenberg's debut film, however, it is the first to have, to paraphrase the Coen Brothers, "that certain David Cronenberg feel". While his 1986 remake of The Fly is often regarded as an AIDS parable in its depiction of the desecration of the body, had it not predated the first noted case of the disease by a good half decade, Shivers could share a similar reading as it depicts the transference of a parasite through sexual interaction.
The film has similar stakes with George Romero's Dawn of the Dead; they both find characters fighting off zombified throngs in a confined space that represents luxurious excess, a mall in Dawn, an upscale high rise multi-use condominium on an island near Montreal here, and it's interesting to note that Shivers predated the Romero film by three years. Though Dawn may be the more accomplished film, only Shivers is brazen enough to end (SPOILERS TO FOLLOW, obviously) in a zombie orgy!
Due to it's low budget (the film was financed in part from a Canadian tax incentive) the film is a little rough around the edges, but Cronenberg's commanding skills of special effects incorporation and creating tension and unease along with the driving thematic element of "body horror" that would drive a number of his most celebrated works including The Fly, Dead Ringers, Crash and Videodrome, are all already on display. Future Ghostbusters director and fellow Canuck Ivan Reitman produces and Black Sunday's Barbara Steele co-stars.
The US trailer features a familiar narrator, Mr. Percy Rodrigues, who makes yet another one of his patented bold proclamations, this time it's: "If this picture doesn't make you scream and squirm, you better see a psychiatrist!"