Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rabid (1977)

If you've ever watched a David Cronenberg film, you know it usually deals with a horrific transformation of the human body and psyche (see The Brood, The Fly, Shivers, Videodrome, Scanners, etc.). I love Cronenberg's "thinking horror" that has a deeper meaning that most horror films.

Rabid stars Marilyn Chambers, probably most famous for her porn career, as Rose. Rose and her boyfriend get into a nasty motorcycle accident that leaves her severely burned. She is cared for at a nearby plastic surgery hospital, where she is treated with an experimental skin graph procedure. Upon waking, she has completely recovered but realizes she has an incredible appetite for human blood! She kills her victims with a sharp stinger that protrudes from her armpit. Her victims don't stay down for long, and soon they are walking around thirsting for blood as well. They kill their victims the old-fashioned, zombie way - by biting them! Soon, medical officials are declaring an epidemic of a new strain of rabies. Martial law is declared and those who have been vaccinated are given ID tags, while those without are manhandled and/or killed by the military. All the while, Rose must come to terms with the fact that she is the original carrier of the disease.

Upon first viewing, I took Rabid as a critique of the government/authority in an emergency situation, a critique on our fear of each other and a look at the "monstrous feminine" or the fear of women. Also, I think Cronenberg was trying to point out that it is hard to trust anyone, even yourself. The feeling of panic and paranoia that sets in after the epidemic begins was very realistic - there was some serious tension going on as people in the film tried to escape the rabies outbreak. Cronenberg doesn't shy away from the gore or violence either - one of my favorite scenes (for its social commentary alone) was a military officer mistakenly gunning down a Santa Claus in the mall.

Don't let the "deeper meaning" fool you, though. This movie is still entertaining, though it does get a little slow in parts. The actors do a pretty good job, and I was surprised to learn that this was a low-budget film. Bleak, grim and disturbing, Rabid is a deeper and more meaningful film than your usual blood 'n' guts, slash 'em up fest.

On Amazon!

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