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CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (director/writer: David Cronenberg; cinematographer: David Cronenberg; editor: David Cronenberg; cast: Ronald Mlodzik (Adrian Tripod); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: R; producer: David Cronenberg; Blue Underground; 1970-Canada)
“Surreal sci-fi black humor farce that never quite clicks.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

David Cronenberg’ (“Scanners”/”The Dead Zone”/”Naked Lunch”) zero-budget second feature following Stereo (1969), filmed in color and in 16-millimeter using Toronto’s modern architecture in the background, is a pseudo-documentary that looms as a silent with an emotionless voice-over. It’s a surreal sci-fi black humor farce that never quite clicks. The film’s inept hero is Adrian Tripod, clinical director at the House of Skin and a disciple of the missing deranged genius dermatologist, Antoine Rouge, who has treated wealthy patients suffering from severe skin conditions through their use of modern cosmetics. This malady is known as Rouge’s Malady, named after its discoverer, and the plague is spreading as the child-bearing female population is about to be extinguished. The disciples struggle to carry on their mentor’s work, but prove to be not capable of doing that effectively. When their last patient dies, the director turns to far out treatments in other settings that involve telepathy through the feet and then other absurd treatments that also don’t work–even meeting up with an underground network of pedophiles trying to lure adolescent girls.

Cronenberg, in this sophomoric and tedious film school-like film, explores a world of genetic mutations and presents themes that will become part of his oeuvre such as modern man’s inability to treat diseases he caused, monstrous body horror breakdowns and the ugliness of sex malfunctions. These themes will be better executed in his later films, but die-hard Cronenberg fans might be interested in how they played out in one of his early experimental failed films. Others would, probably, be better off if they avoided this pretentious arty venture as if it were the plague.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”