Going to the video store with my wife is an interesting endeavor, as we have rather divergent tastes in movies. I have recently developed a devout love for all things Japanese and Italian horror, while my wife prefers obscure French cinema. This usually means that we spend way too much time wandering around the store looking for something we both can agree on until one of us gives up, and the other gets what they want.
I recently won out and settled on the 1977 Canadian horror picture, Rabid, starring adult film icon Marilyn Chambers and directed by David Cronenberg.
The second part of our video renting dilemma is actually watching the films we choose. My wife always complains that I never let her watch the videos she gets from the library (which is true for she gets rather dull-looking French films and horrible BBC series adapted from weepy women’s literature.) And I complain that she never lets me watch my gory, bloody zombie flicks (which is also true, because she doesn’t let me watch them.)
When we actually manage to find something we can agree on (usually classic American films) we make a cozy evening of it, otherwise we have to wait until the other one is either at work or back at the computer engulfed in something else.
Luck struck me twice and I was able to watch the aforementioned Cronenberg flick while the wife worked on her dissertation.
It is one of Cronenberg’s first pictures made strictly for the cinema and a rather low-budget affair but not without its merit.
The film begins with Rose (Marilyn Chambers) and Hart (Frank Moore) taking off on a motorcycle trip only to have a serious collision with a stalled van out on the highway. The two are taken to a plastic surgery clinic due to them being miles away from the nearest hospital in Montreal. Hart is merely banged up, but Rose is in serious condition.
Dr. Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) decides to perform an experimental skin graph on Rose and the surgery seems to go well, but Rose is left in a coma for many weeks. When she finally comes out of it, she feels very strange, and very cold and has what has to be the oddest placed film mutations ever – a small, Alien-esque spike that sprouts out of a very vagina-looking hole in her arm pit.
Rose then begins going around hugging her victims in order that the underarm-spike thing can stab them and suck their blood. These victims then mutate themselves into rabid zombies biting and infecting others until they slip into a coma and die.
It’s all fairly silly, but Cronenberg proves himself very capable of turning it into a pretty thrilling, if not particularly cinematic, piece of film. It is definitely a Cronenberg film too as it all moves fairly slowly, is filled with some very deliberate camera work, and makes a few social observations about plastic surgery amongst all the blood and death making.
Marilyn Chambers proves a very capable actress coming into her first non-porn role. Though after this she slipped right back into porn. Even here, though she has to do some actual acting, there is an abundance of boob shots. I swore I would never complain about naked boobies, and I shan’t here even though they are as bountiful as they are gratuitous and cause continuity problems galore.
The rabid zombies plague Montreal until martial law is declared and poor Hart realizes that Rose is the cause of it all leading to a not-so-happy ending.
This isn’t Shakespeare, nor even a big-budgeted Michael Bay picture, but Cronenberg manages to create something interesting and well made despite his obvious budget limitations. It is obviously influenced by Night of the Living Dead and an influence on films such as 28 Days Later. Certainly, a picture to see by Cronenberg fans and horror-philes alike.
One thought on “Rabid (1977)”
I wrote this in 2006 when I was many years younger than I am now. I have seen this movie a couple of times since the. I’ve become a very big fan of Cronenberg. So, it is fun to read my thoughts on this from way back then, even if I cringe at my boob jokes.