Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HORROR EPICS: Rabid (1977)

David Cronenberg revisits the biological terror story in his second film, which also stars the late Marilyn Chambers in an attempt to cross over from her previous fame as the porn legend of films like Behind the Green Door. Although that didn’t happen for her, Rabid works as a testimony for the potential close-minded studio executives missed out on. Chambers is a motorcycle victim whose burns are treated with a radical skin-grafting technique. But a complication arises in the form of a phallic-shaped growth under her armpit that drains blood from hapless victims. The victims then turn into crazed zombielike predators, who attack people and spread “rabies” throughout the entire city of Montreal. Panic ensues, and martial law is declared to try to prevent further spread of the plague. Rabid may not be what you call a perfect film. For instance, we never get an answer to how Chambers’ affliction materialized in the first place. I would have liked to see more regarding the genetic mutation through plastic surgery being explored. The movie also slows considerably in its second half, after getting off to a great start setting the stage for a citywide catastrophe. But despite its flaws, Rabid is a more effective retelling of themes explored in Cronenberg’s previous film Shivers. Think of it as a vampire story crossed with Night of the Living Dead (and I guess bits of George Romero’s The Crazies as well). Much better than the tedium of Cronenberg’s debut, or The Brood for that matter. The cast also includes Susan Roman, who anime fans may recognize as the voice of Sailor Jupiter on “Sailor Moon.”

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