Joe Silver and
Cinépix Film Properties and
New World Pictures
Rabid is a body horror film, written and directed by David Cronenberg. Ivan Reitman and John Dunning are producers. Marilyn Chambers, the adult film star, is your lead. Veteran actor Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Frank Moore and Patricia Gage round out the rest of the cast. New World Pictures released it in mid-1977 and it enjoys the status of a cult classic today.
Rose and Hart are two lovers in Montreal, Canada. They are involved in a freak motorcycle accident that leaves Rose injured. She requires surgery and is taken to the nearest medical facility, Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery. She is performed on by Doctor Keloid, a shady plastic surgeon interested in experimental skin grafting procedures. This procedure turns Rose into a bloodthirsty killer with a phallic stinger under her armpit. She can use this stinger as a straw to drink the blood of her victims. This turns them into mindless zombies that spread out all over Montreal.
Marilyn Chambers was great in this movie. I thought her character was interesting. I thought the whole picture was interesting, but Chambers stood out. It wasn’t a very demanding role. And she hit a few snags, but she hit all the marks. It’s interesting to note that this was the first crossover picture for her, and Ivan Reitman had rallied hard for her to be included in the film. Cronenberg had wanted to go with Sissy Spacek but she didn’t fit. We get a Carrie movie poster cameo though.
David Cronenberg is such an amazing director. His use of imagery and metaphors is like no other. He knows how to manipulate an audience into eliciting a certain uncomfortable feeling. Dread. That overhanging dread that makes you think, “Why don’t I watch a comedy instead?” This is a trait that some of the best horror movie directors exhibit. In Rabid, Cronenberg had left the meaning of the film ambiguous. It has tones that point to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, but he hadn’t ever confirmed this.
I hadn’t realized how much I had wanted to see a David Cronenberg zombie film until now. It was fantastic and an original take on that trope. The body horror elements are still present. Scenes make you squirm and shift, they make you uncomfortable. Cronenberg is a master at this. It’s unfortunate that the budget restraints had kept his effects at a minimum. I found this film to be better than Shivers but not as good as Videodrome. Its original, effective and features a porn star in the lead role. Rabid is a great for late evenings or movie marathons.