It’s hard to know in which guise he’s more repulsive, as pre teen masturbatory candy, playing the vacant mumbling vampire boy in the Twilight cult, or here as the golden child of high finance, disconnected from the world outside as he cruises Manhattan in his stretch limo. Cosmopolis (Icon) is Robert Pattinson laying claim to being more than a vacant pretty boy, by playing a vacant rich boy and getting a David Cronenberg project of Dom Delillo’s unreadable book green lit. It’s meant to be a Heart of Darkness style journey into the machinations of the uber rich, using Pattinson’s inbuilt vacancy as a cipher for wanton materialism. To a large extent it’s successful, with various sycophants, his doctor (doing his daily prostrate exam), ex lovers, and teenage Wall Street geeks entering and exiting his orbit. It’s quite a surreal journey, an intelligent, humorous blur of ideas that just wash over you, though it’s let down by the forced climax of a poor little rich boy just trying to feel.
There was a time before his literary adaptations of Burroughs, Ballard and Delillo that the name Cronenberg caused involuntary brain enemas and the need to wash until your skin bleeds. In fact his early almost clinical horrors should come with warnings about the damage they can do to still developing psyches. Sure you may have seen bucket loads of gore, sack loads of suspense, as well as a gaggle of seedy and perverted horrors, but they’ve rarely been this intelligent, this manipulative and as a result this terrifying.
1979’s The Brood (Umbrella) is creepy and wrong. Oliver Reed plays an egocentric doctor who experiments with a radical new treatment “psychoplasmics,” that encourages patients to release pent up rage through Gestalt like role-plays. Reed plays Dr Raglan with just enough menace, revelling in his highly manipulative therapy. When a series of brutal murders are carried out in town by creepy midget parka wearing monsters, and the husband of his favourite patient starts poking around, it all starts to fall apart for our good Dr. Of course it wouldn’t be Cronenberg without a spot of body horror, and this is probably the best place to mention that it’s the first time The Brood has been released uncut, and on Blue Ray too.
The following year Cronenberg hit the jackpot with Scanners (Umbrella). The tag line is brilliant. 10 seconds: The Pain Begins. 15 Seconds: You Can’t Breathe. 20 Seconds: You Explode. It’s a tale of telepaths, people who can control others with their minds, but most people refer to it as ‘that exploding head movie,’ because make no mistake, you’ve never seen a cranium combust as magnificently as this. It’s the Citizen Kane of exploding heads; in fact the final battle scene is one of the most remarkably violent duels you’ll ever see, all without any physical touch. It features ubiquitous cranium gore as a metaphor for what’s happening to your own brain whilst watching, because lets face it, you’re not going to escape unscathed when you watch Cronenberg in his prime.