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Quint at Comic-Con: David Cronenberg's A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE panel!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a little report on the David Cronenberg panel at Comic-Con where he discussed A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE with screenwriter Josh Olson.

This won't be a big report as Cronenberg was fairly adamant at keeping discussion about anything more than the first act under wraps. They did show a clip from the film, which I'll get in to in a minute.

Cronenberg arrived onstage to great applause. It was actually the most packed panel I've been to so far, although it seemed that they had to post sentry guards to keep people from storming the "Closed due to capacity" doors for the Bruce Campbell Spotlight right before Cronenberg's panel.

Screenwriter Josh Olson came out and for a couple minutes geeked out on Cronenberg. He was totally one of us, still almost disbelieving that a project of his was directed by David Cronenberg. He actually said the studio was fucking with him when they first told him Cronenberg was interested in the project, taking that news as a joke when they really got some studio hack for the film.


-Budget was $32 million, the biggest budget Cronenberg has ever worked with.

-Cronenberg didn't know that A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE was based on a graphic novel until he was deep into preproduction. He thought it was an original script.

-The film is radically different (barring the first 15 minutes) than the graphic novel upon which it is based. I'm actually surprised there wasn't any vocal disapproval of this bomb dropped... guess it shows the amount of respect Cronenberg has with the fan community.

-Cronenberg never rehearses his actors, nor does he storyboard. He prefers to give the actors as much freedom as possible to make their characters their own. He feels that storyboarding takes away one of the actors' biggest tools: his body, that it only leaves the actor free to say the dialogue differently.

-Howard Shore's score for the end credits of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE is "to die for," according to Cronenberg.

-Cronenberg's next project was to be a movie called PAINKILLERS, a script he wrote 5 years ago that he recently tried to breath new life in to, however it didn't come together for him. So, currently he's movie-less.

-THE FLY DVD has the deleted scenes including the "infamous cat-monkey scene." He said the FLY SE DVD is great, the documentary apparently incredible.


The clip was the entire hold-up scene from the trailer, the event that sets off the whole story. There's a young guy and an older guy that decide they need some cash, so they decide to stick up poor Viggo's little diner in Buttfuck, Nowhere USA. Big mistake.

This whole scene is cleanly shot, however it comes off extremely disturbing. The younger guy takes Viggo's wife (I think) who is a waitress and is told to make an example out of her. He held his hand against the terrified girl's mouth to silence her screams. When he takes his hand away, he wipes the spittle on her front, over her breasts, then smells his hand. This isn't done sexually, but it felt that this poor woman was more violated than if she had been raped on-screen. I don't know how Cronenberg did it, but it was really disturbing.

Coffee pot is smashed, people get shot and Viggo gets a knife through the foot shortly before he gruesomely head-shots the knife wielder. There's a great cut-away to show the bad-guy's jaw exposed, the exit wound from the headshot.

This got a cheer from the crowd and when the lights came back up Cronenberg said, "I think we have a special audience here."

We were also told that there are similar scenes of such disturbing imagery in the film.

It seems that everyone and their mother has seen this and I'm dying to catch it. David Poland, moderating the panel, seemed hellbent on giving away plot points, but luckily we didn't get too much thanks mainly to the efforts of Olson and Cronenberg.

I was lucky enough to spend about 15 minutes informally talking to the master himself after the Con closed and he was genuinely awesome. We talked mainly about Oliver Reed and how they worked together on THE BROOD. Apparently despite Reed's reputation for being a drunkard and lunatic (he even got arrested for prolongingly exposing himself at a restaurant the first day he arrived in Canada to shoot) he was purely a professional on the set, taking Cronenberg, the script and the movie very seriously.

He was later told that Reed will act that way if he truly respects the director and the project. If he doesn't, then he lives up to his reputation. Cronenberg took that as an honor and great compliment to him that Reed worked so professionally with him.

That's it on the Cronenberg panel. I'll be back with tons of goodies. Tomorrow is V FOR VENDETTA, HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, CARS, SKY HIGH, FOUNTAIN and more. Thanks to Kraken for taking the pics, thanks to Gordon Paddison for the meeting and thanks to David Cronenberg for entertaining a rabid fan.

Be back tomorrow!


Readers Talkback
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  • July 15, 2005, 1:55 a.m. CST


    by aliasjbauer


  • July 15, 2005, 2:01 a.m. CST

    Can't wait for some stuff on The Fountain..

    by Dr_Boll

  • July 15, 2005, 2:07 a.m. CST

    The Fly

    by aliasjbauer

    I'm going to have to pick up that DVD. I checked, it comes out in october.

  • July 15, 2005, 2:12 a.m. CST

    Nice Ollie Reed story, Quint...

    by reni

    I heard Cronenberg hand writes all his scripts. When Alex Cox read one of them once, he noticed there wasn't a single spelling mistake. Nice to see him dipping into the mainstream every now and then.

  • July 15, 2005, 2:30 a.m. CST

    It's good to see David Poland doing something movie related

    by deadguy76

    I used to love his article and the stupid question of the day. Where has he been for the past four years and whatever happened to his site? Is he a critic somewhere else?

  • July 15, 2005, 2:30 a.m. CST


    by mansep

    Cronenberg films are always essential... and this one soounds really interesting.

  • July 15, 2005, 3:11 a.m. CST

    this film is amazing

    by bigcheckonthat

    saw it at a screening a couple of weeks ago, it's one of the best films I've seen this year.

  • July 15, 2005, 3:18 a.m. CST

    Really looking forward to this one.

    by Curtis Spicoli

    I can't wait. By the way, what the heck is the "cat-monkey" scene from The Fly?

  • July 15, 2005, 5:09 a.m. CST

    "Cat-Monkey scene"

    by Psyclops

    There was a scene missing from the finished film where Brundle screws around with the telepod and uses it to genetically fuse a baboon and a cat. The "Cat-Monkey" then attacks him and he ends up killing it in self defense. The scene was supposedly cut due to the filmmakers or test audience (I forget which) not wanting the Brundle character to be abusive towards animals, or so I've heard. The DVD sounds like it's going to be awesome and I hope it includes the alternate "Butterfly Baby" ending too.

  • July 15, 2005, 5:17 a.m. CST


    by evolvingsensblty

    i not sure if you're kidding but check out___http://www.thehotbutton.com___ poland has been the mayor of moviecitynews for a few years now.

  • July 15, 2005, 5:19 a.m. CST


    by evolvingsensblty

    sorry i effed the tb.

  • July 15, 2005, 5:29 a.m. CST

    Ed Harris...

    by doonae

    ...looks a mean bastard in this, should get him back in the mainstream. And the film could also get Viggo over his LOTR hangover.

  • July 15, 2005, 6:54 a.m. CST

    greatest living Director

    by keepcoolbutcare

    yeah, obviously many other worthy choices but this one has a good foundation. I mean when does the guy dissappoint? Maybe with "M. Butterfly" and "Rabid" (just didn't do it for me) but man that's it! Pretty much all major directors I can think of all go through slumps, or are really up'n'down, but I can go to a new D.C. film with all the confidence in the world that I'm going to get an interesting/fucked up storyline, some type of nasty makeup/effect shot that'll haunt my dreams, eerie allusions to the body being just a hunk of meat that might/will soon be melding with the inanimate around it, black comedy, good performances (well, except Steven "I should stick to painting an NEVER, EVER act again" Lack), and really solid directing chops. The preview looks dope, word of mouth is solid...maybe a Best Director/Film nod? Not that he needs it or that it means anything, but maybe then he could get more projects green-lighted and get to work with larger budgets. The thought of what he could do with an $80 mil budget is astounding. Spread the word.

  • July 15, 2005, 7:51 a.m. CST

    Heaven would be...

    by DerLanghaarige

    a film written by Cronenberg and directed by Chris Cunningham. These guys are so obsessed with the human body, this would be great. (P.S.:Don't wanna say that Cronenberg shouldn't direct anymore. He's one of the greatest directors ever!)

  • July 15, 2005, 7:52 a.m. CST

    I think I already know too much about this film

    by John-Locke

    I hope it lives up to the hype. This film has been finished for a while yes? I reckon the studios are delibrately releasing this later in the year in the hopes of getting a few nominations.

  • July 15, 2005, 7:57 a.m. CST

    Man, I finally got the Videodrome criterion edition...

    by PVIII

    and boy is that a gloriously fucked up movie. Cronenberg is a pimp.

  • July 15, 2005, 8:49 a.m. CST

    the waitress is NOT his wife.

    by no-no

    his wife is played (brilliantly like the rest of the cast) by Maria Bello. Very fun movie...a perfect popcorn flick.

  • July 15, 2005, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Cronenberg should play the JOKER in batman Continues

    by Judge Doom

    Well, actually I think it should be Crispin Glover, but Cronenberg comes in a close second...

  • July 15, 2005, 10:39 a.m. CST

    "I'm actually surprised there wasn't any vocal disapprov

    by IAmLegolas

    Or maybe nobody has read the graphic novel, it's not like it's Batman... or even Hellboy for that matter.

  • July 15, 2005, 12:57 p.m. CST

    for a guy who made his mainstream bones copping romero's mov

    by duanejones

    ...i'll second -- forty-second? -- the motion that d.c. is one of the greatest living directors. (i'm not counting his early experimental shorts, although they hold the other part of his development). _shivers_ is basically a psycho-sexual _the crazies_ (both feature the elfin magic of lynn lowry) and _rabid_ is basically a psycho-sexual _night_, right down to the downbeat ending (ah, marilyn!)...and thereafter, his films take a stranger, far more personal turn. of mainstream critics, only the village voice's j. hoberman would appear to concur with the canadian's greatness -- in fact, at cannes this year, he dedicated an entire piece on this film and why cronenberg is not more esteemed amongst his peers. i won't screw up the layout with a url, tiny or big -- just go to the voice site and do a search. don't know if he'd be a good joker, but he was perfect in don mckellar's underrated _last night_, one of the great apocalypse-now films of all time (sandra oh gave one of the best performances of all english language films in the 90's therein). certainly look forward to seeing this _history_.

  • July 15, 2005, 2:01 p.m. CST


    by keepcoolbutcare

    And here I thought I was the only one @AICN who loves J. Hoberman! Speaking of McKellar have you ever seen his TV show "Twitch City"? Holy shit I can't believe it type of hysterics! If anyone knows anything about that show ever getting some kind of release on DVD or anything please post. Cronenberg's best on screen role though is "Nightbreed"...CREEPY!

  • July 15, 2005, 2:33 p.m. CST


    by deadguy76

    Pathetic as it may sound, no. I've been overseas for a while with the military. When I came back, his site was gone, bummer because I thought the stupid question of the day was always funny. Thanks for the info.

  • July 15, 2005, 4:31 p.m. CST

    first Philip Dick now Cronenberg wow

    by fried samurai

    This con sounds so cool.I tell ya if their ever was a director born to direct a Philip K Dick novel its Cronenberg.The guy is obviously a fan.It breaks my heart that so many hacks keep getting to make shit and it takes forever for DC to get something greenlit.PAINKILLERS sounded awesome...peace

  • July 15, 2005, 5:02 p.m. CST



    A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE is fucking great. Peace.

  • July 18, 2005, 1:38 p.m. CST


    by duanejones

    getting to this late, so no one may ever read this, i haven&#39;t seen _twitch city_ but i hear-tell it&#39;s brilliant, with playing his standard outcast anti-hero, transfixed by the telly. truly deserves a dvd release -- i know of one individual involved with public television programming in the u.s. who saw _twitch city_ a few years ago and passed on it. too twitchy for u.s. audiences whose public television offerings can only extend to hand-driven felt crappy music specials, i sad. more fuel to the fire of those who say _the discovery channel has great documentary series that pack in so much information before commercial breaks!_ and wish to defund public broadcasting accordingly. >sigh<...with these, _32 short films aboot (!) glenn gould_ & _the red violin_, the don is just aboot (!) my favorite living screenwriter. the last scene in _last night_ is one of my favorites EVER -- talk aboot (!) life-affirming! and who couldn&#39;t love hoberman? if you don&#39;t wanna negotiate those prolix celebrations of obscure thai filmmakers, at least give your propers to the author of _midnight movies_, right? no question in my mind, hoberman&#39;s the finest film critic alive, bar none.