4/10/2017

RABID (1977) (Review)

Title: Rabid
Writer/ Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patrica Gage, Susan Roman
Min: 91

Rose (the beautiful Marilyn Chambers) and her boyfriend Hart (Frank Moore) are riding a motorcycle through the Quebec countryside, when they crash with a parked vehicle. They suffer a major accident and are rushed to the nearby Keloid Clinic. Although his injuries aren't that severe, she is seriously injured and burned. Dr. Dan Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) goes through with a new radical procedure that involves grafting  morphogenetically neutral grafts from her chest and abdomen to use on her burned skin. One month later, she still in a coma. But, one night she awakens screaming.
This prompts a patient to hug her to help calm her down. As he does this something from her body pricks his skin. He develops a small wound that won't heal. It seems the procedure has resulted in a mutation in Rose. One in which a slit in her armpit conceals a phallic like stinger. When this punctures a human she draws blood from them. This has become the only substance they she can have. In turn, those she punctures become violent, foaming at the mouth zombies. Soon, this begins to spread and health authorities think this is some new form of rabies. One that they eventually find out has no cure, other than killing those contaminated with it.
David Cronenberg's Rabid, which just turned 40 this past weekend, is his second movie. While, it has some similarities with his first movies Shivers, AKA They Came from Within, I do believe this is the better of these two movies. It tells a bigger and more compelling story, has stronger acting, overall, and is highlighted by a larger and more polished look and feel.
The plot moves along well and intelligently. It escalates itself as it goes forward and more of the story unfolds. The climax is bloodcurdling and leads to the what is, for this film, a perfect and unforgettable conclusion. As only he could, Cronenberg manages to mix the gore and violence with smart story telling. This serves as proof of why he was the reigning master of body horror, as no one can make shocking horror that feels as smart and gruesome as he did.
While, not as bloody as some of his other work, the film still manages to pack on the splatter. Like Shivers the FX, which are quite good, are handled by Joe Blasco. The phallic stinger that come out of Rose's armpit is suitably weird and a definite, ''what the fuck?!" moment, especially upon one's first viewing.
The acting is excellent throughout. Porn legend Marilyn Chambers, as the lead character of Rose, made her mainstream (though I use that term lightly here) debut. Chambers had already made a name for herself in the classic and hugely successful skin flick classic Behind the Green Door. Those who think porn stars can't actually act should shut the fuck up and see her in this. She gives a complex and emotional performance, one that is sexy, sympathetic, and intimidating. We feel for her and fear her.
While, the role isn't as righteously sexualized as it could have been, Chambers still uses her sexuality and beauty to get her victims. And, what a stunner she is! Chambers was one of the most gorgeous women to ever grace the adult biz, and with this, one of the most stunning to grace the horror genre, as well. She does appear topless a few times, but again not nearly as much as one might think and usually not in the context that one might have imagined it to be in.
Rabid is great piece of body horror from the master of it. Smart, shocking, and well thought it, it's a solid entry in the sci-fi/ horror world. The climax and ending give the movie an extra punch that stays with you. This is no small part due to the excellent acting, especially from the late, great, and stunningly beautiful Marilyn Chambers. 40 years later it holds up quite well and can sit well alongside of some of Cronenberg's best work. The Soska sisters are working on a remake of it, before that is made and comes out, see this. Even if that movie wasn't being made, you still need to see this, and make it now. And, for those of you who already have, see it again and pick up the excellent Scream Factory Blu-ray, which came out late last year.

3.5 out of 4

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