With his introspective drama A History of Violence currently in theaters—not to mention Halloween quickly approaching—it's as good of a time as any to brush up on the disconcerting, smart, and hit-and-miss films of David Cronenberg. It's nearly impossible to like all of Cronenberg's stuff—but it's a hell of a thing when even the guy's lousy movies are still pretty interesting.
• Dead Ringers (1988)—One of Cronenberg's best, Dead Ringers features Jeremy Irons as twin gynecologists who're doing the same chick (Geneviève Bujold). Irons is fantastic, and Cronenberg gets in enough psycho-sexual oddities to make even the most stalwart viewers cringe. Maybe more importantly, the film's funny as hell, though you might feel bad about laughing at the pitch-black humor. (I didn't, but apparently I think nothing's funnier than weird twin gynecologists.)
• eXistenZ (1999)—A muddled, confused trip that's either about videogames or drugs. Or neither. I don't fucking know, okay? Anyway, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law stick these tubes into their bodies, and Willem Dafoe runs a gas station. Maybe I'm just not getting it, but I'm pretty sure this movie's pretty crappy. Right?
• Scanners (1981)—Cheesy acting and cheesier dialogue ("I'm gonna suck your brain dry!") punctuate this pulpy story of ESP-enabled humans who... run around and kill people and stuff. That's about it, and it's pretty horrible—then again, this dude's head totally explodes in it, so I guess that's pretty rad.
• The Fly (1986)—Flat-out awesome. A young Jeff Goldblum plays a scientist whose DNA gets combined with that of a fly—causing Goldblum to steadily change into something less than human. Complete with gross make-up effects, frightening psychological shifts, and darkly funny gags. Fox's new DVD rerelease boasts exhaustive documentaries and special features—including the most ridiculous alternate ending ever. (It involves a baby with butterfly wings, and that's all I'm going to say.)