Sidewinder’s View: “Dead Ringers” (1988)

Aside from Jeremy Irons acting opposite himself as twin brothers, and the pre-CGI visual wizardry that helped accomplish that illusion…

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…I’ve never understood the appeal of this movie. Critics and art house film fans love it.

I would argue it was Dead Ringers that helped lead to the critical reappraisal of the director’s earlier ‘B-grade exploitation’ movies (y’know, the kinds that made money because they appealed to Horror fans and such?).

I’m also certain Dead Ringers is the reason you’re able to find The Brood, Scanners and Videodrome on Criterion Blu-ray, because they’ve achieved a higher level of respectability with the revisionists.

On several different occasions since 1989, I’ve rented the home video of Dead Ringers and tried to sit through it, if only to see if maybe, this time around, I’d ‘get’ the movie and finally develop an appreciation for it.

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It’s never happened. Each time I’ve inflicted this slick, but dreary drama on myself, I’ve reached the same conclusion about the film: Dry, dull and depressing.

I can understand folks admiring Dead Ringers— the craftsmanship of it, the technical polish– but enjoying it? That seems a real stretch.

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Up until this one, I counted myself as a Cronenberg fan. After Dead Ringers, his cinematic output, while gaining in critical acclaim, grew a little spotty with me.

A History Of ViolenceEastern Promises? Loved both.

Naked Lunch? Crash? eXistenZ? Spider? Wha– Huh? Zzzzzzz.

Cronenberg’s earlier work– Shivers, Rabid, The Brood, Fast Company, Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, The Fly— the first eleven years of his feature film career as a director, basically– all those earlier films were pulpy, surreal, thrilling, sensationalistic, moving, and, frequently, a lot of fun.

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Twisted and frequently gory fun, but fun, nonetheless.

And, in a way similar to the nostalgia I feel for the late Seventies/early Eighties Chuck Norris flicks, I kinda miss that David Cronenberg.

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