Interview: Actress Lynn Lowry Remembers David Cronenberg’s SHIVERS

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SHOCK celebrates actress Lynn Lowry’s birthday and the birth of David Cronenberg’s SHIVERS with this exclusive interview.

Actress, producer and cult movie Grand Dame Lynn Lowry, she of Romero’s THE CRAZIES, David Durston’s I DRINK YOUR BLOOD, Radley Metzger’s dark porn comedy SCORE, Paul Schrader’s CAT PEOPLE and Debbie Rochon’s upcoming slasher satire MODEL HUNGER, celebrates a birthday today and SHOCK would like to extend a gigantic, warm and bloody Happy Birthday hug to her.

Also celebrating a birthday this year is maverick Canadian director David Cronenberg’s first feature film, the landmark sex-soaked STD from Hell classic SHIVERS (aka THEY CAME FROM WITHIN), which, as hard as it is to swallow (and spit), just turned 40.

SHIVERS is Cronenberg’s first masterpiece, though it’s a messy, flawed affair. But those flaws are what have made it so memorable. The low-budget, Cinepix-helmed, Ivan Reitman-produced shocker tells the tale of a mad scientist whose attempts to reconnect man to the base impulses of his Freudian ID, results in the birth of a plague of parasites that travel via sexual activity and turn their hosts into hedonistic rape-murder zombies. In the center of this swelling nightmare, sits lovely Lynn as Nurse Forsythe, a heroic woman whose efforts to elude the plague don’t end well for her (or maybe they do, considering Cronenberg has long said he considers the parasites to be the heroes of the piece, the new species that usurps the old) but they do bear fruit for fans of sick cinema, especially when, during an intimate sequence in an underground garage, Lowry speaks what this writer considers to be one of the greatest passages of dialogue in any horror film.

In honor of both Lynn’s birthday and the birth of David’s first cinematic baby, SHOCK gives you some words and wisdom from the lovely, currently parasite-free, mouth of the actress herself…

SHOCK: That moment in SHIVERS, where you deliver that chilling, absurd monologue about sexuality, I believe that one scene exemplifies the complete Cronenbergian experience…

LOWRY: I would agree.

SHOCK: But when actor Paul Hampton hits the parasite back into your mouth, it looks like he really hits you…did he?

LOWRY: No…he did not. But I was very worried he might!

SHOCK: What are your memories about making the move to Montreal to film this little exploitation movie. Did you have any expectations?

LOWRY: I had very few expectations, because really, I knew nothing about David or even Ivan Reitman. I met Ivan in New York, he took me out to lunch and cast me in the film. Now, I did have a problem when I arrived in Montreal. See, they wanted me to do total nudity in the film and I didn’t think that was necessary, considering the scene in question is just a shot where I’m changing my nurse’s uniform. It didn’t make sense that I’d be changing my underwear along with taking my bra off. So I almost didn’t get the part because they were unhappy with my refusal to go totally nude. They eventually relented and I only had to give them that tit shot. But David was great; wonderful creative, energetic and just a great person two work with early on, at the beginning of both of our careers.

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SHOCK: David says of SHIVERS, that he was committed; that considering the movie was originally called ORGY OF THE BLOOD PARASITES, he was just going to jump in and go for it. David today is a much different man than he was back in 1975. You say he was energetic…can you elaborate?

LOWRY: He was charming and intense and he wanted to get the shots right. You know, we did lots of night shoots, there were some difficulties with certain actors, which I won’t get into, but he was in control. One time, there was this scene in the film where I’m about to get raped and I stab this guy in the shoulder with a fork. For whatever reason, that guy wasn’t there for the close up so David padded his shoulder up so I could stab him instead. And I got all emotional, screaming, totally into the scene and then I stabbed him and missed the padding! The fork went into his real shoulder. But he was so nice about it; he was just like “ouch!”, then he cleaned up and we moved on.

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SHOCK: When was the last time you actually watched SHIVERS?

LOWRY: It was on SHOWTIME a few years ago and I sat down to watch it and I was amazed at how well it all still works. The scares are there, the humor is there, the character studies are there. My mom was 85 then and she watched it with me and she loved it. It endures and still speaks to a wide range of audiences. And it’s an important film as I would say that it was the first body horror film, the first film in which we see things emerging from the human body.

SHOCK: Can we touch on your brief role in Paul Schrader’s CAT PEOPLE? You play a prostitute named Ruthie and although it is a small part, it’s in one of the most memorable sequences of the film…

LOWRY: Paul was not my favorite director that I’ve worked with. He was in a bad spot when he made the film and was very hyper and Insensitive to me. I had to do this stunt, where I fall on my knee and the cat grabs me, but they couldn’t get the cat claw to work so I had to keep falling and falling and my knee was getting bruised and was swelling up. Finally, they got a crew member to put on a puppet claw and get under the bed and grab me. So they finally got that shot but then there was another scene where I had to fall down the stairs and they didn’t take the nails out of the floorboards so when I fell so I got all cut up an had to get a tetanus shot. I must have fallen 25 times. I was screaming and crying and they just couldn’t get it right. I was supposed to fall down, roll over and then my bra pops open so they could get the tit shot, right? Well, they couldn’t get the bra open! So they had strings and pulleys and were trying to do everything they could to pop the bra. They wanted it all in one shot. So I was black and blue and cut and it was horrible. But eventually the bra popped and it was a great scene and everyone remembers it and so I’m happy I did it. So when you watch that film and wonder if I was really in pain…I was.

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SHOCK: You went through a phase where, for years, you weren’t acting in film at all. Suddenly, you’ve become one of the most prolific indie actors working. Where were you doing during those leaner years?

LOWRY: I was in Hollywood and I just got tired of the bullshit. I wasn’t doing horror movies when I was in Hollywood, I was just going out for TV and other auditions and I got tired so I gave it up; I focused on doing theatre and even sang in a band. Then, suddenly, when all these old movies from the 1970’s came to DVD I started getting calls. “Ms. Lowry, will you be in my movie? Please, Ms. Lowry?” I was like, holy shit, really? You saw I DRINK YOUR BLOOD 25 times? Okay! I’m in! So I came back and I’m doing more films now than I’ve ever done and I’m having an absolute blast while doing it. I’m always growing, always learning…

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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