(Photo by New Line, 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection)

All 21 David Cronenberg Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

Over the course of six decades, David Cronenberg has built a bloody, slimed-over, and warped throne of flesh and bone to sit upon as the king of body horror. His first two films, Stereo and Crimes of the Future, are little-seen, ready for Cronenberg fans to re-discover and find that his obsession with pushing the boundaries of science, sexual perversity, and our oh-so-tenuous grasp on our physical self was present from the beginning.

Rabid and The Brood made more of a squeamish splash with general audiences. And in the ’80s, Cronenberg came into his own: Scanners was all over horror magazines for its legendary exploding head sequence. The Dead Zone contributed to a hot streak of Stephen King adaptations happening across the industry, following Carrie and The Shining. The Fly was the rare excellent remake and had the good sense to parade Jeff Goldblum around in his underwear (and vomit). And Videodrome seemed to best express Cronenberg’s vision of how the self can be utterly compromised by sinister forces.

The ’90s saw Cronenberg experimenting with an expanded dramatic palette (M. Butterfly, Naked Lunch) with varied results, which would pay dividends in the following decade. That’s when he released A History of Violence, which would become his highest-grossing movie, be nominated for two Oscars, and mark the start of a fruitful collaboration with Viggo Mortensen. The actor was nominated for the Oscar in their follow-up Eastern Promises, which boasts a bath house fight that’ll please those who think the tighty-whities Goldblum wore in The Fly were too much clothing. The third Viggo movie was A Dangerous Method, a kinky yet classy flick of psychology that brought in Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender.

And you know how Robert Pattinson is your new favorite actor, especially after you had written him off for those Twilight movies? You can thank Cronenberg for giving Pattinson the opportunity to do weird roles to shake up his image, in movies like Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars. Cronenberg has appeared to have retired in recent years with the shifting movie and media landscape. If that’s the case, then it’s been an impressive, influential, and gross – really, really gross – career, which we’re celebrating now with all 21 David Cronenberg movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#21

M. Butterfly (1993)
43%

#21
Adjusted Score: 43362%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg reins in his provocative sensibility and handles delicate material with restraint, yielding a disappointing adaptation that flattens M. Butterfly into a tedious soap opera.
Synopsis: Deception marks the long affair of a French diplomat (Jeremy Irons) and his lover (John Lone) in 1960s China and... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#20

Crash (1996)
63%

#20
Adjusted Score: 65675%
Critics Consensus: Despite the surprisingly distant, clinical direction, Crash's explicit premise and sex is classic Cronenberg territory.
Synopsis: A man (James Spader) and wife who get thrills from car accidents hook up with the head (Elias Koteas) of... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#19

Stereo (1969)
60%

#19
Adjusted Score: 48365%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Scientists perform surgery which allows humans to communicate through telepathy.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 49576%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A man (Ronald Mlodzik) takes a bizarre journey while searching for a kidnapped 5-year-old girl.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 68067%
Critics Consensus: Narratively unwieldy and tonally jumbled, Maps to the Stars still has enough bite to satisfy David Cronenberg fans in need of a coolly acidic fix.
Synopsis: Driven by an intense need for fame and validation, members of a dysfunctional Hollywood dynasty have lives as dramatic as... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#16

Cosmopolis (2012)
66%

#16
Adjusted Score: 73316%
Critics Consensus: Though some may find it cold and didactic, Cosmopolis benefits from David Cronenberg's precise direction, resulting in a psychologically complex adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel.
Synopsis: A 28-year-old billionaire (Robert Pattinson) senses his empire collapsing around him as he takes a limo ride across Manhattan to... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#15

Naked Lunch (1991)
69%

#15
Adjusted Score: 70566%
Critics Consensus: Strange, maddening, and at times incomprehensible, Naked Lunch is nonetheless an engrossing experience.
Synopsis: A bug exterminator (Peter Weller) hallucinates, kills his wife (Judy Davis) and becomes an Interzone writer.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#14

Rabid (1977)
76%

#14
Adjusted Score: 77995%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Surgery leaves a Montreal motorcyclist (Marilyn Chambers) with a bloodsucking appendage in her armpit.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#13

eXistenZ (1999)
74%

#13
Adjusted Score: 77247%
Critics Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.
Synopsis: The creator/tester (Jennifer Jason Leigh) of a corporeally invasive game must elude assassins with the help of a security guard... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#12

Scanners (1981)
70%

#12
Adjusted Score: 73273%
Critics Consensus: Scanners is a dark sci-fi story with special effects that'll make your head explode.
Synopsis: A scientist (Patrick McGoohan) sends a "scanner" (Stephen Lack) to hunt others like him with explosive psychic powers.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 85152%
Critics Consensus: A provocative historical fiction about the early days of psychoanalysis, A Dangerous Method is buoyed by terrific performances by Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, and Viggo Mortensen.
Synopsis: Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) treats Sabina (Keira Knightley), a beautiful and unbalanced patient, using the methods of his mentor,... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#10

Videodrome (1983)
78%

#10
Adjusted Score: 83472%
Critics Consensus: Visually audacious, disorienting, and just plain weird, Videodrome's musings on technology, entertainment, and politics still feel fresh today.
Synopsis: A programmer at a TV station that specializes in adult entertainment searches for the producers of a dangerous and bizarre... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#9

The Brood (1979)
83%

#9
Adjusted Score: 84875%
Critics Consensus: The Brood is a grotesque, squirming, hilariously shrill exploration of the bizarre and deadly side of motherhood.
Synopsis: A mad doctor (Oliver Reed) tries psychoplasmic therapy on a raging woman (Samantha Eggar) soon to be a mother.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#8

Dead Ringers (1988)
83%

#8
Adjusted Score: 86414%
Critics Consensus: Dead Ringers serves up a double dose of Jeremy Irons in service of a devilishly unsettling concept and commandingly creepy work from director David Cronenberg.
Synopsis: Twin-brother gynecologists (Jeremy Irons) are divided by a patient (Geneviève Bujold) and doomed by drugs.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#7

Spider (2002)
85%

#7
Adjusted Score: 88345%
Critics Consensus: Ralph Fiennes is brilliant in this accomplished and haunting David Cronenberg film.
Synopsis: Haunted by his childhood, a psychotic loner (Ralph Fiennes) has difficulty after his release from a mental institution.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 95145%
Critics Consensus: A History of Violence raises compelling and thoughtful questions about the nature of violence, while representing a return to form for director David Cronenberg in one of his more uncharacteristic pieces.
Synopsis: Vicious criminals continue to harass a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife (Maria Bello) after he thwarts a robbery attempt... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#5

Shivers (1975)
85%

#5
Adjusted Score: 86701%
Critics Consensus: Shivers uses elementally effective basic ingredients to brilliant effect - and lays the profoundly unsettling foundation for director David Cronenberg's career to follow.
Synopsis: A crowded Canadian apartment building is besieged by parasites that turn their victims into uncontrollable fiends.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#4

Fast Company (1979)
88%

#4
Adjusted Score: 83629%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After his sponsor replaces him with his archrival, a race-car driver decides to steal the car and race it himself.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#3

Eastern Promises (2007)
89%

#3
Adjusted Score: 96602%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg triumphs again, showcasing the Viggo Mortensen's onscreen prowess in a daring performance. Bearing the trademarks of psychological drama and gritty violence, Eastern Promises is a very compelling crime story.
Synopsis: A chain of murder and retribution uncoils when a man (Viggo Mortensen) who is tied to a crime family in... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#2

The Dead Zone (1983)
90%

#2
Adjusted Score: 94038%
Critics Consensus: The Dead Zone combines taut direction from David Cronenberg and and a rich performance from Christopher Walken to create one of the strongest Stephen King adaptations.
Synopsis: A man (Christopher Walken) comes out of a coma able to see the probable futures of anyone he touches.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#1

The Fly (1986)
93%

#1
Adjusted Score: 99441%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg combines his trademark affinity for gore and horror with strongly developed characters, making The Fly a surprisingly affecting tragedy.
Synopsis: David Cronenberg's remake of the 1958 classic about a botched experiment that transmutes a man into a monstrous insect.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

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