42nd Street Cinema

Rabid (1977)

Taking time out from the usual Italian or American affair, it's time to head north with David Cronenberg's ambitious body horror feature, Rabid.

Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman and Roger Periard.

A young woman involved in a horrific motorcycle crash, has her wounds treated by an experimental operation at a nearby plastic surgery clinic. While the operation was a success, the patient, Rose (Chambers) is the unfortunate bearer of a gruesome side-effect. She has developed an insatiable appetite for human blood, which she syphons from a victim's body via a phallic proboscis, which extrudes through a sphinter-like hole, concealed under her armpit.

Furthermore, those whom she drains have no recollection of the event and eventually transform into rabid zombie-like fiends, whose bite spreads the disease.
Soon enough, the city of Montreal is thrown into chaos as the government and city officials fail to contain the outbreak.



Following the ' body-horror' trend firmly established with Shivers (1975), Cronenberg also delivers a rather satirical message in the first half of the film, in regard to cosmetic surgery and people's attitudes towards their appearance, mainly through humorous conversations between other patients visiting the clinic.

Cronenberg's use of sexually transmitted infection also carries over into Rabid. However, unlike the manmade 'orgy' parasites seen in Shivers, the character of Rose is effectively a vampiric monster, with her power of seduction being tool of survival and the infection being passed on is essentially by-product of her condition and out of her control.



I would consider Rabid to be a turning point in Cronenberg's career, as the production is much more ambitious and complex; dealing with large action sequences, shooting crowds and running on a small budget.

Before I mention Cronenberg again, I think it's about time Marilyn Chambers was given some praise. While her performance isn't World-class, it should be appreciated nonetheless as she certainly showed enough talent for a future career in legitimate cinema, as opposed to the hardcore pictures where she gained her notoriety.

Certainly not the best flick in Cronenberg's back catalogue, but it serves as a great example of his trademark themes and what audiences were set to recieve from a visionary director.

12 comments:

MondoHeather said...

Nice review and I completely agree that RABID was a turning point in a lot of ways for Cronenberg. Chambers did a great job here, to the extent that proves how wasted she was by other non-adult filmmakers.

Real Queen of Horror said...

Awesome review! Rabid seems like it'll be my kind of movie, I'm going to add it to my watch it list! :)

babyfivetongues said...

This film hit me pretty hard when I was eight years old. The poster image is forever etched in my mind. I always hoped that Ms. Chambers would find more work in the horror genre.

msmariah said...

Wow, I think I remember this one, but it's been a while.

Bill D. Courtney said...

I have about 20 minutes left on this one, taking a break and saw your article pop in my blogroll.The file I am watching is from an old VHS and I guess in a way that adds to the experience but the images you have in your post are awesome. I would certainty see this one again in a better format.
Similar in some ways to Shivers, which you mention. which was also a sort of Cronenberg zombie type film. This one has all the Cronenbergian themes with medical or scientific clinics or centers running secret experiments, mutations of the human body and the characters obsessions with the flesh and its transformations into something horrible, though they see it as an evolutionary leap in some ways. Not as refines a message here as in later films but the theme is there. And may I say, Marylin Chambers does a good job.

Movies on my Mind said...

Haven't seen this movie in years

Drymonema said...

Great review! I thought this film was a superb example of Cronenberg-style weirdness.

Mr. Banane said...

Unfortunately, I have not seen this film till this day yet. But I go out from it, because it is David Cronenberg-Film that he must be good ^^

The Film Connoisseur said...

One of my favorite Cronenbergs, and as you mentioned a step above Shivers on a technical level. Agree with you on the sexually transmited decease angle, it seems Cronenberg was commenting on that with both Shivers and Rabid.

Felix Gilfedder said...

Great low budget madness, a mark in the sand for loads of films.

Viagra Online without prescription said...

The poster image is forever etched in my mind. I always hoped that Ms. Chambers would find more work in the horror genre

Tom Clark said...

One of my favorite Cronenberg flicks, right up there with Shivers as far as his early stuff goes. It's clear he was just getting into the groove with the themes he would go on to perfect in later films. Chambers was great.

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