It strikes me as a miraculous thing. I was sitting in a movie theater yesterday waiting to see a brand new movie from David Cronenberg. I am in the month of my sixty-first birthday. 2022.

Most of the old masters of horror are gone. Romero, Craven, Cohen, and Hooper are dead. John Carpenter is active in music, but it seems doubtful he will ever direct a big movie again. Dario Argento seems to have burnt his wick out decades ago.

I'm not one of those people who go on about having no regrets. I regret a lot. One of the biggest things I regret is all the times I waited for a movie to come to home video. When I could have, and damned sure should have gotten out there and seen them in theaters. Especially films from these guys. What was I doing that was so important I couldn't find time to see an offering from these fine gentleman? Partying with people I didn't even really like? Too lazy to leave my couch and my precious VCR or DVD player?

I've been a Cronenberg fan since the night me and a friend sneaked into a drive-in theater to see Death Race 2000 and The Brood. We would have gladly paid, but we were teenagers and did not have cars yet.

I knew there was something special about The Brood, but I didn't think much about who directed it. Later I saw Rabid at the same drive-in, as a second run feature. I didn't pay for a ticket that time either.

I did pay to see The Dead Zone at a hardshell theater, and still later I ponied up to see The Fly and Maximum Overdrive at a different drive-in. Did I realize how good I had it? How magical a time it was? Yes, and no. I did love every second of these and other mid-'80s horror movies, but I should have appreciated it more.

I knew early on that David Cronenberg was on a different level than the other horror masters. He was far more ambitious, and frankly, more intelligent. His films challenge the intellect, and trouble the soul. I was exhilarated by each production.

The hype machine is out in full force for this new Cronenberg opus. Smart fans will take that stuff with an enormous grain of salt. You can't blame a filmmaker, or the film itself, for the machinations of the promotion team.

The trailer for Crimes of the Future is terrifying. There were rumors and predictions of walk-outs and panic attacks.

I was actually encouraged when I started seeing horror fans say Crimes of the Future is dull and a huge letdown. The average fan today would be better off staying home to watch Stranger Things. It's like giving a modern splatterpunk fan a copy of Ghost Story.

David Cronenberg's movies can be dense. Ponderous. Confusing. They are also ruthlessly inventive and jam-packed with ideas. Crimes of the Future is not a torture show. It's so much more than that. Unfortunately to many fans, it's so much less than that.

This film depicts a future where pain has been rendered obsolete. People modify their bodies in the name of art. Viggo Mortensen is a performance artist who removes mysterious new organs from his body in public shows. The plot gets pretty thick as the story unfolds. There is a conspiracy to cover up something new in human evolution. A planned leap in our development in order for our bodies to keep up with technological advances and the troubles that come along with them.

There are some cringe-worthy scenes, such as graphic surgery footage, and there is an autopsy of a child that is gruesome and disturbing. It all serves Cronenberg's vision of a terrifying future where biology and technology merge. William Burroughs would have loved this movie.

I'm tempted to call Crimes of the Future the best movie Cronenberg has ever made. It's important to separate David's own visions with the work-for-hire productions he has directed. I adore his commercial ventures, like The Dead Zone, The Fly, and A History of Violence. Crimes of the Future is more in line with They Came From Within, Rabid, The Brood, Videodrome, and eXistenZ.

David Cronenberg continues to provoke, intrigue, infuriate, and alienate viewers. Nothing has changed in that regard. However, he has refined his art, and as far as I am concerned Crimes of the Future is the most perfect embodiment of his vision to date. He will surely continue to divide fans and critics.

Long Live the New Flesh indeed.

Written by Mark Sieber

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