Scientist Hobbes (Fred Doederlein) has brutally cut up a young girl, Annabelle
(Kathy Graham) in his appartment in the Starliner Island complex, & then
killed himself. But as if that wasn't enough, soon after many of the building's
inhabitants become incredibly horny &/or cannibalistic.
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Only the building's doctor Roger (Paul Hampton) & his colleague &
contact to the outside world doctor Linski (Joe Silver) seem to be able to
relate these facts to one another since Hobbes seems to have worked on a
parasite that works both like an aphrodisiak & a veneral desease, & was
supposed to turn the world into a better place by everyone having an orgy
(taken by itself, a valid idea). However something did go wrong, & then
Hobbes had to remove the parasite from the girl - with above mentioned bloody
& that would even have been the end of it, had Annabell not been that
bloody promiscuous, & many other inhabitants of the complex seem to have
had her, & now the parasite roams free inside the building, turning it into
a swinger's heaven ... but doctor Roger's hell.
When he tries to get out of the building with his nurse/girlfriend (Lynn
Lowry) though, he has to realize that the building seems to be sealed off the
rest of the world almost hermetically, & the 2 of them have to endure more
& more attacks ... until Roger realizes his girl has been affected too,
& his fight/getaway gets even more desperate.
In the building's indoor swimming pool, Roger finally finds a slide door he
can open, surrounded by a bevvy of hot girls in wet t-shirts, but once outside,
he realizes the infected have found this exit as well, & it doesn't take
long before they make him one of them, too.
In the last shot, we see them all leave the complex in their cars, spreading
the parasite to other places.
Horror icon Barbara Steele plays a lesbian.
After 2 a few shorts & attempts at feature-length experimental
filmmaking (Stereo, Crimes of the Future), Shivers was
David Cronenberg's first stab at commercial film-making, & his
favourite topic, body horror (or bio-horror) seems to be already firmly in
place. Also, to incorporate an appartment complex into the proceedings as part
of the actual horror rather than just a convenient scenery is almost a stroke of
genius (as I find these complexes spooky as it is).
This all can't hide the fact though that the story is pretty trashy, more a
vehicle for showing naked flesh & flowing blood rather than the base for
intellectual discussions, the storytelling is rather formulaic, & the
characters are - again typical for trash movies - everything but multilayered
That said however, it's good, entertaining trash horror nevertheless.
Cronenberg, of course, went on to make bigger things ... not all of them were