BRAUN: ‘Slasher’ welcomes horror maven David Cronenberg

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Around the time a pile of bloody guts spills from the slashed belly of a guy hung up for slaughter by a hook in his mouth, you begin to see why David Cronenberg said “yes” to a part in Shaftesbury’s hit horror series, Slasher.

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The fourth season — Slasher: Flesh & Blood — premiering Oct. 4 on Hollywood Suite, has received the ultimate genre nod: renowned filmmaker Cronenberg, 78, has a major role as Spencer Galloway, patriarch of a wealthy and hugely dysfunctional family.

Under his watch, relatives fight one another to the death over money. What’s involved are bloodletting scenes every bit as creative and disgusting as the horrormeister himself might have created.

For Slasher, however, Cronenberg is staying firmly on the far side of the camera.

“When I’m being an actor, I’m there to do one thing, which is to make that character come alive and hold his own in the ensemble of actors.”

Cronenberg has acted throughout his career, turning up briefly in dozens of movies and on TV series such as Alias Grace and Star Trek: Discovery.

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“But this is the first time in my entire life that I was #1 on the call sheet — I thought, ‘Wow! that means this is a serious responsibility that I’ve never had before.’

“In Star Trek, I’m #29. That’s more normal for me. Being #1 is exciting in a weird, actor ego kind of way,” he laughed.

Ironically, there will be people who’ll believe Cronenberg — because of his early movies — has a lot in common with the dark and dangerous Spencer Galloway.

“Of course, Spencer’s really just misunderstood, you understand,” Cronenberg joked.

“But talk to my children —  they’llconfirm that I never once in my life yelled at them the way I yell at my children in Slasher.”

Not that he hasn’t wanted to yell at some people. “Of course, being civil and being a Canadian, I never would. But here I had the chance to actually do it!”

He makes villainy sound like quite a lark.

Cronenberg has just spent 100 days in Athens shooting Crimes Of The Future, his first feature in seven years. It stars Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux and Viggo Mortensen, and it’s based on a script Cronenberg wrote 20 years ago.

As for his 1970 film, also called Crimes of the Future, he said, “Yes, we stole the name. That was an underground film. It’s amazing how many people remember that.

“But this is not a remake or a sequel. Although I would say, thematically, there are some connections.”

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Fittingly, in this time of the pandemic, there’s a retrospective of Cronenberg’s work at a film festival in the ancient city of Matera, Italy, through Oct. 10.

“The new James Bond film had a lot of sequences shot there. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was shot there. For some reason, I don’t know why, they’re doing a retrospective of my stuff.”

The festival will show Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), TheFly (1986), Crash (1996), eXistenZ (1999); A History of Violence (2005) and EasternPromises (2007).

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Here’s what Silvio Giordano and Nando Irene, artistic directors of the festival, had to say about the retrospective:

“Cronenberg’s works stand as a perfect metaphor of our time: new viruses, technological implants, genetic mutation, capitalism, and its aftereffects. His cinema anticipated the future of our society. Every contemporary artist who has worked on the body owes him: we are all his disciples.”

Given Cronenberg’s global reputation, it’s interesting that he still lives in Toronto. Only a few can resist the siren call of Hollywood.

“I absolutely could not live in the U.S.! I enjoy going to L.A. and visiting, but I’m very not an American. Once I realized I could make films here … I just didn’t want to live anywhere else.

“I was really happy to be a Torontonian. And I still am.”

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