11 Times David Cronenberg Made It Impossible to Look Away

Body dysmorphism is our favorite dysmorphism.

Part of the “Weird Davids With Great Hair Trinity,” which also includes Lynch and Byrne, David Cronenberg has spent his entire career making theatergoers squirm. His medium isn’t merely hallide crystals, it’s pulsating flesh, discontent, innards, disgust, skin tags, the wrong amount of sweat, the wrong kind of sex, the upside of villainy and the downside of good. His movies are compulsively watchable in exactly the way Spielberg’s movies aren’t. You have to watch because you have to know because the only thing worse than seeing what emerges from Cronenberg’s imagination is imagining what might emerge from Cronenberg’s imagination. He’s a fountainhead full of bugs.

Today, he tosses out his latest grenade, Maps to the Stars, which will be met with both mixed reviews and mixed emotions. This will be fine by Cronenberg, who seems basically indifferent to viewers’ enjoyment. He wants eyes, not hearts, and he knows how to get them.

Here’s a history of Cronenberg reveals. A word of warning, most of these gifs are best viewed through your fingers….

Maps to the Stars

If you think about this movie about the hollowness of fame as a sequel to Boogie Nights, it might actually be less frightening.


Though the movie wasn’t a success (artistically or financially), Cronenberg’s dystopic take down of capitalism did contain some disconcertingly excellent work from Robert Pattinson.

Eastern Promises

Remember the first time you saw this scene? You thought it was the most intense thing you’d ever seen in a movie theater – and it was. 

A History of Violence

Only Cronenberg would think to take the revenge of a nerd, a classic American movie trope, and make it uncomfortably one-sided.


When James Spader is the second creepiest character in a frame, you know things have taken a turn. Considered the “Better Crash,” this movie is about people who get off sexually when they’re in car accidents. This kink proves inconvenient for all concerned.

Naked Lunch

William S. Boroughs went on a very bad trip indeed.

Dead Ringers

“Nurse, scalpel…. Oh, we don’t have a scalpel, well pass me that metallic insect leg so I can cut open this mutant.”

The Fly

The movie that became synonymous with Cronenberg’s brand of creepiness, The Fly is about a researcher who becomes his own subject. Making Jeff Goldblum unattractive takes some doing, but Cronenberg was up to the task.

The Dead Zone

Christopher Walken foresaw Jed Bartlett’s presidency, panicked.

Crimes of the Future

Cronenberg made a movie about a creepy dermatologist, which may be the most Cronenbergian idea ever.


One of Cronenberg’s first films, Stereo is about a sexual researcher who takes scientific inquiry to a very creepy place. This is his lab. It is not romantic.