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Cronenberg pix breeds Japanese fanaticism

Horror master David Cronenberg’s films packed so many Japanese fans into a 138-seat cinema in Tokyo on the opening weekend of a three-week retrospective that the organizers are already negotiating rights to take the retro to both Fukuoma and Osaka.

The show, which opened last Thursday and continues through March 30, includes props from “Scanners,””Dead Ringers,””The Fly” and “Naked Lunch.”

From the Toronto editing room of Warner Bros.’ “M. Butterfly,” Cronenberg said Japan’s fascination with his horror/erotica pix is fueled by the country’s insatiable appetite for special effects. “They’re such techno-freaks,” he laughed.

Based on the notable Japanese B.O. success of “The Fly” and “The Dead Zone,” the Cinematheque Ontario/Festival of Festivals convinced Japan’s Seibu Department Stores to back the retrospective.

“Wherever (the Canadian organizers) turned, they got excited responses to it, ” Cronenberg said. “My earlier stuff got attention — not just with the kids — but because of the special effects.”

He admitted that “Naked Lunch” wasn’t “a big B.O. success in Japan,” however, he believes “it touched a nerve.”

A collection of Cronenberg’s shorts, which included his first seven-minute student pic, “Transfer,” also aroused much interest.

A Cronenberg fest wouldn’t be complete without “The Brood,””Rabid” and “Videodrome.”

Cronenberg said he would like to have attended the opening, but was happy to avoid interviews for “M. Butterfly” because he “burned out” giving “160 interviews for ‘Lunch.’ It was a relief just to concentrate on the film this time.”

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