David Cronenberg is one of the most important names in cinematic science-fiction. From the 70’s to around 2002, Cronenberg’s main genre was sci-fi-horror, and much in the way that cosmic horror is attributed to H.P. Lovecraft, the concept of ‘body horror’ is a mainstay in Cronenberg fiction. Also similar to Lovecraft, and other authors such as Dick and even King, as well as filmmakers like Miike, Oshii, Park, and Shyamalan, the weirdness keys you in and you know for damn well certain that you’re watching a Cronenberg movie. He’s a visual storyteller, and this is perfect because the stories he likes to tell often involve things born out of the fires of dark imagination and peculiar interpretation of real events. Subjects range from twin gynaecologists who operate on mutant women to pornographic TV transforming a man into a machine. It’s original science-fiction, for the most part, and it’s brilliantly rendered for the screen.

As far as I see it, Cronenbergio is the film equivalent of Philip K. Dick. Even though he’s pretty popular for movies such as Eastern Promises and A History of Violence, I think years from now a wider audience will look back and fully appreciate the movies like eXistenZ and Spider, which is less sci-fi but still extremely overlooked. Philip K. Dick wasn’t afraid to tackle the bizarre and the macabre – fear never factored in; rather, strange near future drugdealers and other queer SF tropes were used to exorcise personal demons. The science-fiction was a necessity in some cases, and ultimately, it was simply a genre he liked to work in. Cronenberg brought a level of literary and philosophical seriousness to a cinematic genre that was and is historically mentally vacant.

The seeming move of Cronenberg from science-fiction/horror to a wider horizon of genres (crime drama, historical) isn’t necessarily unwelcomed or even unexpected, but it does give the genre haters something to latch on to. They could call it maturation, though all Cronenberg movies are distinctly Cronenberg regardless of genre. I’m sure there are those who would call it maturation, and it would be unfortunate if they exist, for Cronenberg as filmmaker would be lost on them. He’s a man who treats all genres equally, whether it be horror, crime drama, romance, or pseudo-pornographic sex thriller. I think first up will be either Dead Ringers, because that’s on its way from Netflix, or The Fly, because that’ll be easy.

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