Rabid. Film Review

DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg
SCREENPLAY: David Cronenberg
STARRING: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver
FORMAT: Standard/Limited Edition Steenbok Blu-ray

Reviewed by Guy Adams

Let’s try and make this the first review of David Cronenberg’s RABID that doesn’t make a point of focussing on what sort of movies its star, Marilyn Chambers, more frequently appeared in shall we?

Leather-clad Rose (Chambers) rides the unreliable Norton. Something large rears before them and they can no longer control themselves. Chambers falls to the ground, getting hotter and hotter until she can’t take it any more and has to receive professional help at a clinic.

After having several lengths of specially treated flesh inserted into her, she becomes insatiable and goes on the run desperate for wet, sticky thrusting. When she goes without for too long she becomes uncontrollable, sweating profusely and desperate to exercise her puckering flesh hole. She sucks her victims senseless, her appetite spreading until Montreal is in the clammy grip of an epidemic.

Adolescent? Certainly, but if you think I’m stretching a point beyond reason, you’ve probably never watched a Cronenberg movie.

RABID was the director’s second full-length feature and it rides the parasitic coat-tails of his first, SHIVERS, offering a subversive spin on the vampire tale.

It’s certainly a great shame that Chambers was unable to capitalise on her performance here as she’s undeniably strong in a role that sees her slip from vacant to feverish, animal to human with each passing scene.

For viewers that have come to the director in later years, I can’t help but wonder what they would make of this earlier, grainy, straight-faced effort. Might a recent convert, perhaps wooed by the masterful MAPS TO THE STARS (vying with PADDINGTON for best movie of 2014 in this broadminded fool’s opinion), enjoy a movie in which a woman with a gloopy blood straw in her armpit works her way through various pale-faced Canadians? Perhaps not. It’s with SCANNERS that Cronenberg truly found his voice, but that’s not to say there isn’t much here to savour, and the climax is an inarguably effective chunk of bleak cinema.

The presentation is excellent and the disc comes with two commentary tracks, one from Cronenberg and one from film studies professor William Beard. There is also an isolated music and effects track for those wanting to be punched in the ears by some rather on-the-nose cues. Two documentaries, one excellent, hour-long piece, concentrating on Cronenberg’s career and the other, a briefer piece, looking at Cinepix, the Canadian production and distribution company. Add to that four further interview pieces (Cronenberg, executive producer Ivan Reitman, co-producer Don Carmody and makeup artist Joe Blasco) and you have an excellent full package.