A young women survives a motorcycle crash by undergoing experimental surgery. Her newly transplanted skin develops into an orifice under her arm, and she begins feeding on people with it. The people she has fed on become enraged and rabid, and a disease starts to spread.
I remember seeing Rabid sitting on my stepfather’s shelf when I was about 12 or 13, right next to Shivers. The cover – a skimpily dressed woman collapsed below a blood red logo and quarantine sign; it must’ve captured my pre-pubescent imagination for some reason. But I never watched it. I guess I wasn’t brave enough to sneak a peek at this naughty erotic DVD I had found.
Ten years (or so) later, and I’m watching a cheesy 70’s horror film with terrible music and bad acting – David Cronenberg’s Rabid. Staring 70’s Porn Star, Marilyn Chambers, on paper Rabid sounds like the epitome of 70’s horror films. Yes, it’s badly acted and dated, low-budget, and bad special effects, and overfilled with creepy Moog synthesizer sounds.
Cronenberg has proven himself to be one of the masters of body horror, with films such as Scanners, Videodrome, and The Fly; and even though Rabid is nowhere near those in terms of good movies, the obviously fake effects of skin removal still make my skin shiver and wince. As this is the Blu-Ray release, the picture is crisp and clear, and even keeps the film grain, to the delight of my hipster self. There are commentaries and interviews from the Director and Producers, as well as an hour-long documentary on Cronenberg, and a short documentary on the production of Rabid. Standard DVD stuff, really. There is a nice, illustrated booklet with an essay that provides some interesting analysis, and context of the film’s production. There is also an interview with Marilyn Chambers, and technical information about transferring the film on to Blu-Ray, which are nice touches for fans of the film.
From the overdramatic 70’s synth music, and badly acted hospital scene at the start, I was expecting it to turn into a Six Million Dollar Man episode, or a “Garth Marenghi” style parody. But what I got was a slow paced, infection film, which has been copied, and bettered by others since. A less urgent 28 Days Later.
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver
Running Time: 91 minutes
Release Date: 16th February 2015