New Rose Hotel is a 1999 Abel Ferrara film based on a William Gibson short story. I know I have read that story but that was ages ago. Gibson's Neuromancer was hailed as the first great cyberpunk novel and when I read it when it came out I enjoyed it. I re-read it about 10 years later and didn't care for it at all. New Rose Hotel is set a little ways into the future when giant corporations have lots more power than today. Sounds like a crappy future, huh. Christopher Walken is a guy who puts together a team to secure a scientist and extract him from a company. He hires Willem Defoe and Asia Argento to help. It's a dangerous game as the corp the scientist works at will kill the team if they get caught. They'd even kill the scientist rather than loose him. Things don't go well, the plan falls apart, and Christopher jumps to his death. Asia disappears and Willem hides out in the New Rose Hotel. He's all sad because he fell in love with Asia. Now she's gone and he didn't even get paid. I've seen this movie a couple of times before and I just can't get overly excited about it. It's a bleak world and everyone is pretty shitty. The acting is mostly ok. The film, while low budget, occasionally gets some good images up on screen. The story is just so poorly told that it just doesn't appeal to me to much. Nothing much happens as the plan developes; then it falls apart and everyone bugs out. Then there are a lot of flashbacks in the last half that feel pointless. People on the IMDb give it a 4.5 and that's probably about right. Some defend it by saying you need to read the story first but that's no defense. It's finally going on the sell pile. I've seen it for the last time.
David Cronenberg's 1975 film Shivers is another bleak story but it's told in a more exciting and interesting way. Science and sex mix with gooey horror in Cronenberg's first feature film. It has a bit of a scandalous story in Canada since the movie was partially paid for by a government film program. It even got debated in the Canadian Parliament. It's got a lot of violence, gore and nudity but it isn't even the worse of it's time. It's certainly tamer than some of the current batch of gore films. Still it was a different time and there's government money mixed with a lot of blood and sex and violence. Cronenberg had a hard time getting more money for his next films and he even got kicked out of his apartment because of the film's review in the weekly Canadian magazine Saturday Night. The landlord used a morality clause to evict him. What a dick that landlord was. A scientist is working on parasites to be used to replace organs. Instead of replacing a kidney with another person's kidney you replace it wtih a parasite that was grown to mimic the kidney's functions. Sounds like a good idea if you can get past the parasite part. The scientist is of course crazy and at the start of the film we see him strangle a teenage girl, cut open her stomach, pour acid in the opening and then slit his own throat. The police work backwards to find out what happened. Another scientist looks over crazy scientist's notes and finds that the parasite he had developed had changed and it turns people into violent sex maniacs. The crazy scientist didn't quite want that effect so he killed the girl and himself. The infected people will attack you and rape you so they can pass along the parasite. The teenage girl was the crazy scientist's mistress and test host for the parasite. Problem is she hadn't only slept with the scientist. Several men in the building are infected. Things turn ugly as they strive to get their humpin' on. It's pretty much down hill as person after person in the expensive isolated apartment tower gets infected. The film ends with the infected driving out of the building. Over the credits a voice over talks about a wave of sexual attacks in the city. It made money for the company that produced it. It was the largest grossing Canadian film of the time taking in $5,000,000. It came out on dvd in the US in 1998 and it seems to be out of print right now. There's few extras on the disc, a trailer, and a short interview with Cronenberg about the making of Shivers. He would go on to make more films that explore his thoughts on flesh and disease. There are whole books written about that aspect of his film making. Read them if you want to learn more. The film is well worth seeing. Hopefully it will turn up on dvd again. If you Google it you can find bootleggers that are selling it. They are cheaper than the $60 & up price of the original release.