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STEREO (director/writer: David Cronenberg; cinematographer: David Cronenberg; editor: David Cronenberg; cast: David Cronenberg (Dr Luther Stringfellow); Runtime: 62; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Cronenberg; Blue Underground; 1969)
“Though it gave me a few guarded chuckles it was hardly worth the effort sitting through such a tedious affair.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The first film by director David Cronenberg (“Rabid”/”Videodrome”/”eXistenZ “) is an avant-garde black and white low-budget sci-fi-er waxing academic about the inhumanity of science. It concerns five male and female guinea pigs who are being exploited by questionable experiments in telepathy and omnisexuality. It gets over by presenting its fictitious record of its experiments in a somber educational documentary style that gives voice to the director’s concerns over the reliability of science and its morality, as a serious sounding voiceover lectures us with conviction in a quack science way. It tells us that all experiments must show a love for the participants, voicing a philosophy that ‘love conquers all.’

It opens as a helicopter swoops down at the Canadian Academy for Erotic Inquiry building (actually the University of Toronto), where its black-caped director Luther Stringfellow (David Cronenberg) is a para-psychologist investigating some of his latest bizarre theories that include telepathic dependency. I think the film’s best and most accessible moment has Stringfellow wolfing down a candy bar and staring into space robot-like.

I’m sure this was meant as a black comedy, and though it gave me a few guarded chuckles it was hardly worth the effort sitting through such a tedious affair. Fortunately Cronenberg got over his pretentiousness early on in his career and went on to be a great filmmaker.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”