Studio: Cinépix Film Properties (CFP)
Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Running Time: 91 min.
Synopsis: A woman becomes a bloodsucker after an operation on her skin when she was badly burned in a motorcycle crash.
I first saw David Cronenberg’s Rabid back in the late 80’s on USA Network’s Commander USA’s Groovie Movies. One image that always stayed with me is a scene of a dead woman frozen inside a refrigerator. This same image has been on posters and DVD covers for this film and it is very iconic in the world of horror films. When I first saw the film I enjoyed it very much and thought it was very creepy. I recently viewed the film again and liked it less, but still thought it was a good horror film from the 1970’s.
The film is about a woman, Rose (Marilyn Chambers) who gets into a motorcycle accident with her boyfriend. A nearby plastic surgery clinic goes to the crash and helps Rose and her boyfriend. Rose is in serious condition and needs to be operated on fast, but it is hours from a real hospital. The crew there operates on her and uses some experimental skin-grafting technique. They are able to save her, but she remains in a coma. A month later she awakens, but she is not the same Rose. Somehow the operation caused different organisms to grow inside of her making her thirst for blood. Once she drains blood from someone, it infects them and gives them rabies. The victim goes out of control and attacks people and if they are bitten by them and survive they are infected too.
Rabid is a very unique film that pretty much creates a new kind of vampire, which happens to be manmade. Also the way Rose gets blood from other people is very unique. There is a parasite that looks like a tube that comes through her armpit and has a stinger on it to get the blood from the victims. The victims that are infected are not like Rose and just have rabies, but also crave blood. They go mad and become uncontrollable monsters while Rose is always calm and just needs blood to live. She does not know why she is like this and does not want to harm anyone, but has to in order to survive.
There are plenty of creepy scenes or scares throughout the movie. As I mentioned before the girl in the refrigerator who was a victim of Rose’s is still creepy after all these years. Others include any of the people who survive Rose and go out and attack people. One has the doctor at the clinic that gets bitten by Rose and does not remember what happened. He seems to be fine, but during surgery he goes mad and cuts off a finger of one of his nurses and starts drinking the blood out of it. The ending of the film is very chilling and one of the standout scenes of the movie. I won’t give it away though, so you will have to see it for yourself.
There are a few issues or questions I have for the film. One is the operation that Rose had and why did skin grafting cause her to become a bloodsucker and why is this parasite tube coming out of her armpit? I am not sure why and how this is happening to her. Then there are her victims. Most of them survive her attacks and just don’t remember what happened, but a few others die, like the girl in the fridge. Not sure why she killed her and stuck her there. The others in the hospital she let live because they didn’t remember what happened to them. So, why did she kill her? Maybe she just took too much blood out of her, I don’t know?
Then there is Rose’s boyfriend, who always seems out of it for some reason. At times he doesn’t have any emotion. He doesn’t get excited or angry when at times he should. He just seems very mellow or tired all the time. Then there is the distance between Montréal and the clinic, which seems to be on the other side of the world, because it takes the boyfriend and one of the guys from the clinic like a day to travel from one to the other. Then there is a scene that always sticks out where the two are shown in the car driving to the clinic and the boyfriend is just sitting there drinking coffee and staring at the driver not saying a word. It is just strange they are traveling for hours and not saying a word.
There are some interesting facts about the film, like this was Marilyn Chambers’ first non-porn film. At the time she was quitting the porn business and wanted to be in mainstream films. Chambers is most famous for being in the classic porno, Behind the Green Door. Also, Cronenberg wanted to cast Sissy Spacek in the lead role, but the studio did not want her because of her southern accent. This was before Carrie was released. During the production of the film, Carrie had just come out and there is a poster of the film in the background when Chambers is walking by a movie theater in one scene. Ivan Reitman, mostly famous for his blockbuster comedies like Stripes and Ghostbusters, was one of the producers on Rabid. Reitman was no stranger to horror though. He also produced another Cronenberg film, Shivers and wrote, produced, and directed the 70’s cult classic Cannibal Girls.
Rabid is a good 70’s horror film to check out. It is not a classic, but it is a good horror flick. The film also follows a theme that is in all Cronenberg films, which is the new flesh or a new creation of another being. This is true in his other films like Shivers, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, and his remake of The Fly. So, if you have not seen Rabid, give it a look and enter the mind of a bizarre director like Cronenberg.