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4 David Cronenberg Cameos

David Cronenberg has repeatedly claimed that he does not make Hitchcockian appearances in his own films, which is, of course, a bunch of bullshit. Cronenberg appears in no less than five of his own films and perhaps more, in addition to making a handful of wonderful cameos in the films of others.

Here’s my list with an invitation to our readers to hunt for more of Cronenberg’s hidden cameos.

4. Crash

Cronenberg doesn’t appear in person, but instead lends his voice to a garage attendant, in his most controversial and erotic drama. When Spader and Unger pick up lover and leader Vaughn’s crashed car near the end of the film, Cronenberg can be heard saying in his distinct voice, “Well, I can give you the forms now, but you’ll have to come back between 7:30 and 4:30 to register a claim. What’s your attachment to that thing?” Simple and elegant, like the film itself.

3. The Fly

Cronenberg’s most famous and extensive cameo (appropriately in his most famous film) was his stint as a gynecologist delivering a baby maggot in The Fly (and saying the one thing no woman wants to hear in the delivery room: “Wait, there’s more in there. A lot more.”). ­Cronenberg has previously and quite convincingly explored the ideas of the monstrous child in The Brood, but the horrific dream sequence of The Fly was a new level of intensity. Not­ since John Hurt started to cough in Alien was there such a great maternal shock in film.

2. Videodrome

It’s wholly unsurprising that this blog loves Videodrome in all its gory glory, and Cronenberg’s cameo-by-necessity is one of the fun and confusing stories surrounding the classic film. When incredibly talented but notoriously paranoid actor James Woods refused to don the glowing Accumicon helmet for fear of electrocution (others say it was just the heaviness he objected to), Cronenberg stepped in and wore the helmet (as well as Woods’ amusingly small clothing) for one of the film’s most haunting shots. Described in the script as “bizarrely beautiful … like a modern techno-interpretation of a medieval piece of armor,” the helmet, and shot, would stand out as a memorable image in a film full of extreme imagery.

1. Shivers

My favorite Cronenberg cameo comes from the little sex-screamer called Shivers. As sex-parasites rapidly infect an apartment complex, driving everyone into an erotic frenzy, protagonists encounter a hallway of rabid potential lovers. Cronenberg is behind door number 82 and throws it open, groping blindly for our hero with a look of ecstatic delirium.

Cronenberg, on the right

There’s then a brief and very interesting POV shot from door 82 as Cronenberg’s arm reaches out blindly to try to grab at two writhing bodies on the floor before him.

Here’s the entire clip, beginning at 6:00, in the midst of an excellent documentary called The American Nightmare:

Supposedly, Cronenberg makes a cameo in the 1977 film Rabid as well, but I was unable to track this one down. If anyone can find that shot, or any other Cronenberg cameo in one of his own films, I’d love to see it.

Videodrome courtesy of the excellent Videodrome: Studies in the Horror Film by Tim Lucas

For more on Cronenberg:
Opening the Neural Floodgates
Videodrome Is Dangerous

Britta R. Moline  12/14/11

Have you found another Cronenberg cameo? If so, leave it in the comment section–



4 thoughts on “4 David Cronenberg Cameos

  1. Cronenberg’s hands are in eXistenZ. When Pikul and Gellar leave the restaurant after the shooting, they enter Yevgeni again clad in white. When they’ve finished their conversation, Yevgeni forcefully chops the head of a fish off and slams the cleaver in the block of wood. Those are Cronenberg’s hands. Cronenberg mentions this in the commentary to the film.

    Posted by Jay | December 15, 2011, 12:37 pm
  2. I think you’re confusing two things here: Hitchcock made the cameos because he wanted to, it was his idea of a little “trademark”. Cronenberg did his “cameos” only because he had to: Shivers was a very low-budget movie, so the director had to step in whenever they needed an extra person. He did some camera work for the same reason, not enough personnel. The reason for the Videodrome cameo you’ve mentioned yourself: James Woods’ stupid reaction to that helmet (good grief, what an idiot, I feel quite sorry for DC there). The cameo in The Fly was for a very similar reason: this time it was Geena Davis who didn’t like the idea of filming the birth scene with some actor, so Cronenberg had to play the doc (again, another idiot – why do you choose acting as a career if you bitch and moan about having to play perfectly normal scenes?). And then we have Crash, same reason as Shivers, they did the movie as low budget.
    So, what Cronenberg wants to say with his comment that he doesn’t make Hitchcock-like cameos, is just that he didn’t plan to do any of the acting in his movies like Hitchcock did. It was always just because they needed someone to play a role and there was nobody else available.
    As for cameos in other directors’ movies – what has that got to do with his comment? He never said he doesn’t do cameos for others, so it doesn’t even make sense to bring that up.
    And it’s just stupid to say that these cameos are “hidden” – DC never tried to hide the fact that he had to step in for some roles, and why should he? Sometimes he mentions his cameo in a commentary, sometimes he talked about it in interviews, so how did you get the idea that he’s trying to hide his cameos?
    Sorry, but the only one who’s talking bullshit is you.

    Posted by Barney | December 15, 2011, 7:34 pm
    • I think you’re taking some off-handed writing a little too seriously. That’s okay, because we’re both just clearly fans of Cronenberg. The use of the word “hidden” wasn’t intentionally trying to prove he was covering anything up, nor was glib comment about ‘bullshit’. Just a great fan of the director here, talking about my favorite spots of his in movies. Thanks for the comment.
      — Britta

      Posted by VideoWordMadeFlesh | December 15, 2011, 10:56 pm

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