Rabid (1977) | David Cronenberg’s infectious body horror cult gets a global Blu-ray release from Arrow
One minute they’re perfectly normal, the next…
Badly mutilated in a motorbike accident, Rose (Marilyn Chambers) is given an experimental skin graft by plastic surgeon Dr Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) which saves her life, but endows her with a blood sucking proboscis in her armpit. As Rose tries to control her blood lust, her vampirised victims spread the contagion throughout the city of Montreal causing chaos and calamity to ensue…
You can’t trust your mother… your best friend… your neighbor next door…
Canadian director David Cronenberg has often expressed his distrust of the medical profession and it certainly pervades his first two features. For his 1975 debut, Shivers (aka The Parasite Murders/They Came From Within), a mad scientist in Montreal creates a parasite – part aphrodisiac/part venereal disease – that turns the inhabitants of a high-rise into sex maniacs; for his 1977 follow-up, Rabid, he unleashed his venereal terror on Montreal’s metropolis through hordes of rabid vampires. Even today, Cronenberg continues to mine the dangerous links between desire and disease in his chilling debut novel, Consumed, in which STD’s and social media collide in one big global conspiracy.
Piling on the gore and grisly, 1977’s Rabid may have got a critical mauling from the critics, but this pseudo-intellectual exercise in sexual horror marked Cronenberg’s evolution as a master storyteller with a dark side, while his uncanny understanding of science and technology made it prescient of stem cell experimentation. Film studies scholars have also praised the film for its novel take on the body politic, as witnessed in an informative essay in the booklet accompanying the Arrow release.
The film also marked the ‘straight’ film debut of hardcore porn idol Marilyn Chambers. As victim turned vampire Rose, Chambers is terrific, catching especially well the nastier and inwardly compelling aspects of the heroine’s inward desires. It’s just a shame that the one-time Ivory Snow soap model never did much more after this film and quickly returned to porn. The collector’s booklet includes a wonderful candid interview with the XXX idol who died in 2009, aged just 56. The article also reveals how Chambers’ 1972 film Behind the Green Door got into the Top 100 films listed by The Guardian‘s British film critic Derek Malcolm.
The Arrow Films & Video Release
Rabid has been digitally restored in HD by Lionsgate using materials supplied by the Toronto International Festival group, and appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with mono 1.0 sound. The restoration was undertaken by Technicolor in Toronto and included colour grading; picture clean-up, new sound elements and credits. Available on dual format (Blu-ray and DVD) from Arrow Video, and in a SteelBook format.
The extra features include audio commentaries with director David Cronenberg and author William Beard; interviews with director Ivan Reitman and producer Don Carmody; two featurettes – Make-up Memories, with make-up artist Joe Blasco, and Raw, Rough and Rabid: The Lacerating Legacy of Cinépix, on the Canadian production company, as well as the 1999 documentary episode The Directors on Cronenberg.
The collector’s booklet features Kier-La Janisse’s cultural studies essay Plastic Surgery Disaster: Rabid, the October Crisis and the Pathological Body Politic, reprinted excerpts of A Biologically Correct Vampiress from 1992’s Cronenberg on Cronenberg, and a 2005 interview with Marilyn Chambers by Callum Waddell. The reversible sleeve features new cover art by Nat Marsh.
Posted on March 8, 2015, in Cult classic, Horror, Must See and tagged 1970s Canadian horror, Arrow Video, Behind the Green Door, David Cronenberg, Derek Malcolm, Marilyn Chambers, Rabid. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.