Top 10 David Cronenberg Films

Written by Nick Spake A director of cult classic and blockbusters alike, David Cronenberg is one of the most recognizable names in modern cinema. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 David Cronenberg movies. But what will take the stop spot on our list? Will it be The Fly, Videodrome, or A History of Violence? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: WatchMojo.com Big thanks to jkellis for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Films+by+David+Cronenberg
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His movies will make your skin crawl, but in a good way. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 David Cronenberg movies.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the directorial achievements that have defined the infectiously thrilling career of this Canadian filmmaker.

#10: “Scanners” (1981)

Here’s a disorienting picture that gets inside your head and blows your mind. Literally. Like many films on this list, “Scanners” showcases Cronenberg’s knack for the supernatural and for grisly practical effects. In the story, scientific experimentation has led to the development of a telepathic phenomenon plaguing people labeled Scanners. An early example of Cronenberg’s knack for body horror, it’s a smartly written, “Twilight Zone”-esque story that captures the sensation of a mental meltdown. Amounting to a battle of the minds, “Scanners” is certainly an unconventional psychological thriller. Plus, it has one of the greatest head explosions in all of cinema.

#9: “Naked Lunch” (1991)

Addiction is a common theme in Cronenberg’s movies, but “Naked Lunch” is arguably his strangest exploration of substance abuse. Peter Weller plays Bill Lee, an exterminator who dresses like a film noir detective. Hooked on bug powder, Lee is sent on a slippery slope leading to murder, conspiracy, and characters that could only come from a junkie’s hallucinations. The movie is a dreamlike acid trip that touches base on repressed feelings and severe writer’s block. Believe it or not, though, it’s only Cronenberg’s second most disturbing insect movie.

#8: “eXistenZ” (1999)

The more technology advances on the gaming frontier, the easier it becomes to lose oneself in the game – especially when you’re connected to the console through a “bio-port.” “eXistenZ” came out at a time when a lot of other movies were exploring cyber culture and false realities. Nevertheless, Cronenberg gave the film a unique signature with trippy imagery and a twist-filled plot that keeps the audience guessing. Considering that women rarely get to be player 1 in movies relating to video games, “eXistenZ” also deserves bonus points for shining the spotlight on Jennifer Jason Leigh in a multilayered performance.

#7: “The Dead Zone” (1983)

David Cronenberg and Stephen King are such an obviously good fit that it’s curious their paths haven’t crossed more often. King’s source material and Cronenberg’s gift for creating ominous atmosphere go hand in hand in “The Dead Zone,” a thriller about a man who gains psychic abilities after waking up from a coma. Who better to play such an outlandish part than Christopher Walken? He may be able to predict the future, but we rarely know where the plot is headed and the final outcome is anything but trivial.

#6: “Crash” (1996)

Not to be confused with Paul Haggis’ Best Picture winner of the same name, Cronenberg’s “Crash” finds the unlikely link between car accidents and kinky sex. This is a thrill seeker’s erotic fantasy in which James Spader is introduced to a whole new world of pleasure upon crashing his vehicle. Controversial upon release, “Crash” mixes the stimulation of a porno and the danger of a drive-in death race flick to tell a story that’s surprisingly involving, insightful, and painfully frank. Just remember to always wear a condom...and a seatbelt.

#5: “Eastern Promises” (2007)

Especially in recent years, Cronenberg has shifted away from horror and science fiction, grounding his observations concerning humanity in brutal reality. “Eastern Promises” is a prime example, which feels all too authentic in its representation of criminals, sex trafficking, and violence itself. Carrying much of the film is Viggo Mortensen in a fearless performance as a Russian mob enforcer named Nikolai Luzhin. And, just as there’s more to Nikolai than meets the eye, there’s a lot more to this crime thriller than its violence, with its twists, symbolism, and unforgettable set pieces.

#4: “Dead Ringers” (1988)

Many Cronenberg movies center on people that are torn between contrasting identities. “Dead Ringers” takes this trope to another level with Jeremy Irons in a stunning duel performance as Beverly and Elliot Mantle, a set of unusually close twins. When both gynecologists become intimately involved with a woman, the two are gradually separated physically and psychologically. Their identity swapping amounts to cases of paranoia, obsession and identity crises, raising a fascinating analysis of sexual, sibling and internal relationships, and the uncomfortable lines between them.

#3: “A History of Violence” (2005)

As the title suggests, this graphic novel adaptation from Cronenberg is full of individuals harboring violent pasts. The film wisely never delves too deeply into anyone’s backstory, though, leaving its characters clouded in mystery. One of these enigmatic characters is Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall, a family man running from a vicious past. What the audience finds behind Tom’s bloody curtain is gritty and uncomfortable, but they’ll also uncover a captivating study of violence’s role in human nature that’s guaranteed to keep their hearts racing until the film’s ambiguous end.

#2: “The Fly” (1986)

You wouldn’t think a fly could ever evoke sympathy, but Cronenberg’s remake of the 1958 creature feature classic is an unexpectedly heartbreaking tragedy with an empathetic performance by Jeff Goldblum at its repulsive center. Despite some cringe inducing moments, “The Fly” isn’t merely a geek show or a run-of-the-mill B-movie. Cronenberg develops characters we truly care about, serving up genuine frights and Oscar-winning makeup effects in the process. Of all the ailments Cronenberg’s films have tackled, this is probably the last one anybody would want to fall victim to.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Spider” (2002)
- “A Dangerous Method” (2011)
- “The Brood” (1979)

#1: “Videodrome” (1983)

Violence is a staple of Cronenberg’s movies, but what distinguishes his work from senseless, exploitative snuff films is that the depiction of violence always has a point. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in “Videodrome,” which provides a hypnotic commentary on graphic imagery in media. The film blurs the lines between the real world and the surreal world as its protagonist becomes a part of an all-encompassing program. Given the increase in torture porn and the influence of media on society, “Videodrome” is even more relevant now than it was in the 1980s.
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