Written and Directed by David Cronenberg
Starring Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan
David Cronenberg’s Rabid is another push forward in his filmmaking career. It is known as much for its lead actress, Marilyn Chambers, as it is for his advancing the state of his body horror obsession.
First off, Chambers is everything she needs to be in this film. As patient zero for a plague of rabies that runs throughout, she has the beauty required to present herself to a variety of men, real them in, then make them victims to pass the disease with a vengeance. If she seems vacant, she’s supposed to be absent.
Her character, Rose, is in a coma following a motorcycle accident for a month. She is subject to an experimental surgery. Thankfully we have doctors around to explain things for us. After she wakes up, the first person she sees discovers that she has a thirst for blood. Thus starts the process of the disease working its way through Canada.
The middle section of the film drags a bit. We have the gradual outward expansion of the rabid disease. There is some confusion as to why Rose stays so beautiful, while everyone else looks like hell. Paying attention to the news and any old man speaking about important stuff will help.
One of the unintentionally hilarious moments of the film takes place during this time. Rose’s boyfriend Hart (Moore) travels with Doctor Murray Cypher slowly towards where they think she is holding out. There are two identical scenes where Hart drinks from the same small cup of coffee when Cypher looks over, sees him drinking, then takes his cup off the dash and drinks himself. It looks boring the first time, and looks even more boring the second.
There is also a nice goof when we see the camera man clearly in the back of Hart’s borrowed station wagon after a rabid zombie is killed on the hood.
Overall, though, the movie is pretty slick. The last act plays well enough to give the viewer the adequate suspense for the myriad storylines. This is a good story in the time of a pandemic, as we see the Canadian government close down on its populace. It feels strangely familiar to living in a democrat controlled environment, where freedoms are sacrificed in the name of safety.
If you want to see the state of low to mid-budget horror in the late 70’s, this is as good a place as any to start.
(*** out of *****)