Burn Baby Burn
The Movie: The Dead Zone (1983)
The Moment: Johnny Smith snaps into consciousness in a hospital bed, grabbing the wrist of his terrified nurse as he does so. Suddenly we see what Johnny sees, a burning bedroom with a child huddled in the corner of the room. Then Johnny himself is sat in a burning bed. For a mainstream thriller, it's all rather disturbing.
Craziest Element: Christopher Walken hogs most of the crazy with his wild-eyed performance, but the blazing inferno in the little girl's bedroom is also pretty out there. Such is the ferocity of the blaze that the poor scamp's goldfish bowl starts bubbling, before shattering entirely. Yikes!
Stairway To Heaven
The Movie: A History Of Violence (2005)
The Moment: Having played things fairly straight for much of this thriller, Cronenberg allows himself a quick flourish in this extremely physical sex scene between Maria Bello and Viggo Mortensen, that feels as if it belongs in one of the director's less mainstream efforts. The two stars certainly throw themselves into proceedings with suitable abandon.
Craziest Element: The fact that it takes place on a very unyielding staircase only adds to the sense of pleasure mixed with a significant dose of pain, a theme familiar to Cronenberg aficionados.
Girl On Girl
The Movie: Rabid (1977)
The Moment: Cronenberg presents his take on the vampire movie, in which lead vampire, Rose, is the recipient of an experimental surgical procedure that results in the development of a blood-sucking orifice under her armpit. Of course it does! In this scene she advances on a girl relaxing in a hydrotherapy pool. The girl knows something's up, but can't make her escape before Rose has drowned her and drained her. Nice.
Craziest Element: The fixed simper and post-lobotomy delivery from porn actress Marilyn Chambers is what makes this scene so unnerving. And the armpit, of course.
Dinner Is Served
The Movie: eXistenZ (1999)
The Moment: A truly stomach-churning sequence in which Ted Pikul is served a platter of mutant animals at a restaurant, chows down on the disgusting spread and gradually realises that he must form a weapon from the discarded bones. A weapon that fires human teeth. Yum. Any chance of seconds?
Craziest Element: "I need to kill our waiter," breathes Pikul slowly. In fairness, even if this weren't a video game, he'd be well within his rights after being served that lot.
The Movie: Naked Lunch (1991)
The Moment: Letting Cronenberg loose on William S. Burroughs' surrealist extravaganza was always going to produce some supremely weird moments, so much so that it's difficult to single one out for special mention. However, seeing protagonist Bill Lee's wife inject insecticide into her breast is probably right up there…
Craziest Element: She goes on to entreat poor Bill to rub some of said insecticide into her lips. Whatever floats your boat...
The Movie: The Brood (1979)
The Moment: In a scene that had censors reaching for the editing scissors, a primary school teacher is brutally beaten to death by a pair of mutant kiddiewinks, as the rest of the class look on in horror. They may only be using tiny, child-sized mallets, but they seem to pack one hell of a punch. Looks like home time will be a bit early today…
Craziest Element: The gore-soaked image of the teacher's ruined face as Art Hindle covers her with a child's drawing. Blimey!
The Movie: Videodrome (1983)
The Moment: Max Renn is happily vegging out in front of the idiot box until the Professor on screen begins to address him directly. Predicting a dystopian future in which television supplants reality, the Professor's speech is disturbing enough, but things get even more bizarre when the sadomasochistic Nicki appears, encouraging Max to get up close and personal with the screen…
Craziest Element: The scene reaches fever pitch as the screen begins to bulge out of the television, inviting Max to bury his head in Nicki's virtual lips.
The Movie: Eastern Promises (2007)
The Moment: Eastern Promises might be one of Cronenberg's less bizarre works, but in the scene set in the Turkish baths, it can lay claim to one of the most extreme scenes of the director's entire canon. As a naked Viggo Mortensen fights for his life, an uncompromising orgy of violence unfolds, involving many a bone-crunching collision with the tiled floor. Not for the faint of heart.
Craziest Element: Nothing about the sequence feels like a conventional movie fight scene, from the jarring violence to the fact that poor old Viggo is in the buff for the entire thing!
The Movie: Crash (1996)
The Moment: James Spader and Rosanna Arquette participate in one of the more infamous big-screen couplings, as Spader "makes use" of the gaping wound on the back of Arquette's thigh. We like to think of ourselves as open-minded, but this is pretty weird by anyone's standards…
Craziest Element: Spader tears through Arquette's fishnet tights and begins to lick her scar. And then goes a bit further. Crazy enough for you?
The Movie: Dead Ringers (1988)
The Moment: Beverly's bizarre delusions about "mutant women" come to a head when he attempts to operate on a woman with a bizarre, custom-made tool before losing his shit entirely and collapsing upon the prone patient. Understandably, the rest of the medical team are more than a little perturbed.
Craziest Element: Beverly's new tool looks more like an instrument of torture than a device for use in a gynaecological procedure. No wonder he draws blood...
The Movie: The Fly (1986)
The Moment: Brundle reveals his hideous plan to a terrified Veronica, telling her that they can become the "ultimate family" by fusing themselves (along with their unborn child) into a single entity. Sadly, the plan goes awry, with Brundle succeeding only to fuse himself with the twisted metal of a damaged telepod. The end result isn't pretty…
Craziest Element: As if the man / fly hybrid wasn't repulsive enough, we've now got some dirty great hunks of metal in the mix as well. No wonder the Brundlefly begs Veronica to put it out of its misery...
The Movie: Shivers (1975)
The Moment: Cronenberg's feature-length debut reaches a climax with this nightmarish scene, in which Dr. Hobbes is forced into a swimming pool by a group of the infected, and has the parasite transmitted into his body. That's civilisation's last hope of resistance up in smoke, then…
Craziest Element: The scene plays out like a twisted kind of baptism, which develops fairly swiftly into a terrifying pool-set orgy. Horrifying stuff.
The Movie: Scanners (1981)
The Moment: A ConSec scanner gives a televised press conference in which he attempts to convince the public that the enforced round-up of scanners is beneficial to all concerned. Sadly for him, his conciliatory message is rudely interrupted by Darryl Revok, who doesn't take kindly to what the suit has to say…
Craziest Element: The sheer shock value of the moment when the scanner's head explodes is difficult to top. Cronenberg certainly doesn't skimp on the gore, either, with the luckless fellow's cranium erupting in a geyser of blood.
The Movie: Videodrome (1983)
The Moment: Cronenberg takes his body horror obsession to the extreme with this ghastly sequence in which Max Renn plunges a gun into a gaping orifice that suddenly appears in his stomach. Gaaaah!
Craziest Element: The stomach-wound is even ickier than Rosanna Arquette's scar in Crash . It makes us cringe, every time.
The Movie: The Brood (1979)
The Moment: Nola welcomes another member to her murderous brood, ripping open her external womb to welcome her latest delivery into the world. Possibly the most upsetting birth scene ever committed to celluloid (although John Hurt might have something to say about that), it's one of Cronenberg's most shocking scenes.
Craziest Element: The way in which Nola licks the gunge off her newborn child is the grisly icing on the cake. Bleurgh…