Rabid

"Very Good"

Rabid Review


David Cronenberg is infamous for keeping an audience uncomfortable. His creative knack generally focuses on the alien forces within a character that separate them from their environment, with said special qualities usually generated by some sort of naïve societal push towards technology. Such is the case with eXistenZ, with its reliance on creepy looking, pulsating pods to Seth Brundle accidentally turning himself into a half-human, half-insect.

It's a theme that runs as far back in his work as 1977 with Rabid. Rose (Marilyn Chambers) and her boyfriend Hart (Frank Moore) get into a motorcycle accident not far from a hospital that mostly functions as a plastic surgery ward. Though Dr. Dan Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) is seen refusing to become the "Colonel Sanders of plastic surgery" as his business partner would like to achieve, Rose's predicament does allow him to experiment with a new method of grafting skin, which he feels is the only way to save her life. He is enthused to advance medicine for the sake of humanity, and his intentions are honorable, but the result is that he creates a variation on rabies that becomes an epidemic.

As Rose is recuperating, the grafted skin has mutated within her body to produce a bloody sticker that emerges from her armpit. She rests in the hospital bed by day, seemingly in a coma while Hart waits for news, but by night she hugs a victim tight, the protrusion giving her access to the innocent's blood that now keeps her alive. Hours after passing out from the experience, the victim becomes a predator as well.

Despite the usage of horror techniques, Rabid thankfully never subscribes to a slasher style of storytelling. Though people are infected and the disease spreads at a rapid rate, Cronenberg stays intent on a larger community picture. The subplot of medical and political officials attempting to contain and eradicate the problem is just as important as Rose's predicament, and portrayed with intelligence instead of cheesy bureaucracy.

But Rose's journey of realizing that she is partially to blame takes a little too long to develop. It seems impossible, and therefore becomes a bit straining on attention, that after hearing all of the news coverage she never equates her habits as part of the problem because she acknowledges the situation enough not to touch people she knows and cares about.

Though some of the narrative structure drags in an effort to create more of an entire story than a simple horror flick, Rabid is able to sustain an entertaining tension throughout. It does not try to wrap up a quick happy ending because one couldn't possibly exist. Even given that a larger community response is in focus, there is no satirizing of characters, nor a sense that anyone is paying for their wrong doings. Rabid remains respectfully insistent on concern for the welfare of all in the face of an uncontrollable dilemma, which forces you to invest in wanting a solution for the crisis instead of just saving a few good souls.

Cronenberg had directed a bunch of television shows before this, but Rabid was only his fifth feature length film. It definitely shows the early signs of the talent of someone who has become renowned for creating thought-provoking material without any regard for pandering to viewers or following norms.



Rabid

Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th April 1977

Budget: $513 thousand

Distributed by: New Concorde Home Entertainment

Production compaines: Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Starring: as Rose, as Hart Read, as Murray Cypher, as Dr. Dan Keloid, as Dr. Roxanne Keloid, as Mindy Kent, Roger Periard as Lloyd Walsh, Lynne Deragon as Nurse Louise, Terri Hanauer as Judy Glasberg, Victor Désy as Claude LaPointe, Miguel Fernandes as Man in Cinema, Robert O'Ree as Police Sergeant, as Cop at Clinic, Una Kay as Jackie, Robert A. Silverman as Man in Hospital, Riva Spier as Cecile

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