David Cronenberg's rarely seen 1972 short film about a scientist developing a psychological weapon

Early in his filmmaking career, director David Cronenberg collaborated with writer Norman Snider on a short film for the Canadian anthology series Program X. After that film, titled Secret Weapons, aired, it was rarely shown afterward, becoming something of a lost film. But thanks to the miracle of the Internet, the film is lost no more, and gives us insight into Cronenberg's early filmmaking.


Set in the (then) future year 1977, Secret Weapons is set during a civil war and follows a scientist who has designed a process that makes soldiers want to kill. But he also encounters non-scientific forces that fascinate him: mysterious agents who proclaim the existence of magic and a motorcycle gang that may be the last hope for revolution. It's certainly a rough, early film, marked by a semi-narrative sensibility and odd acting chemistry, but it explores many of Cronenberg's fascinations, including biker gangs, technology's ability to manipulate the human mind, and characters obsessed with violence. More than a decade later, Cronenberg and Snider would collaborate again on their paranoid psychological drama Dead Ringers.

Secret Weapons (1972, David Cronenberg) [Cinephilia & Beyond via Simon Sellars]

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I miss '70s / early-'80s Cronenberg. Raw Cronenberg, as opposed to the Hollywood-polished Cronenberg of today. But then, I could probably say the same thing about most of my favorite '70s era horror directors. They just don't make 'em like they used too.