Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.43%
Worth A Look51.43%
Just Average: 31.43%
Pretty Crappy: 5.71%
Sucks: 0%

3 reviews, 17 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Isle of Dogs by Rob Gonsalves

Room Laundering by Jay Seaver

Mega Time Squad by Jay Seaver

Profile by Jay Seaver

Scythian, The by Jay Seaver

Aragne: Sign of Vermillion by Jay Seaver

Cold Steel by Jack Sommersby

Microhabitat by Jay Seaver

Last Child by Jay Seaver

Nightmare Cinema by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

4 stars

David Cronenberg hits a lot of buttons in "Rabid", playing on his audience's fears of anything particularly intimidating. Everything from science to sex to harshly implemented authority has its moment in here, and it all comes together in some a way that's as interesting as it is scary.

A motorcycle incident leaves Rose (Marilyn Chambers) and Hart (Frank Moore) injured - Rose especially is badly burned - but though it happens too far out in the country to get them to an emergency room, there is a clinic nearby where the wealthy receive plastic surgery. Word of the accident gets Dr. Dan Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) out of a meeting with his financier, Murray Cypher (Joe Silver), and he quickly determines that the only way to save her is with a new type of graft he's developed. The surgery does more than just restore Rose's health and beauty, though - it's mutated her internally, giving her a new organ that allows her to feed on blood. Nothing else satisfies her, and to make things worse, those she feeds on quickly develop symptoms of rabies - only much, much worse. A trail of outbreaks between Keloid's clinic and Montreal soon bring the World Health Organization and the military into the picture.

Rabid was released thirty years ago, but Cronenberg's vision remains fascinating for a number of reasons. He's using some classic horror devices - Rose could easily be called a vampire; her victims are close to the now-famous zombie template - but rather than try to do what many have done and try to come up with a real-world explanation for all the trappings of vampirism, he builds something like a vampire from science-fictional building blocks. It feels more real that way - a modern horror, rather than an attempt to recreate something familiar. And while Cronenberg isn't the first to make a horror movie that features soldiers becoming a threat to the citizenry in response to a crisis - and, obviously, he's far from the last - he strikes a nice balance between the necessity of some form of martial law in response to a crisis and the potential for disaster.

What's most interesting, though, is that he seems to be about fifteen to twenty years ahead of the rest of the world in being afraid of stem cells. He doesn't use the term, and indeed Keloid specifically states that his procedure involves undifferentiating existing cells (something we're still working on now, in the real world). This sidesteps the political debate over where we get stem cells, but allows him a lot of leeway to play with dangerous ways those cells could differentiate. You can even explain Rose's mutation with junk DNA. That the biology holds up pretty well today suggests Cronenberg put some care into it back then (along with the realistic but disgusting prosthesis attached to Chambers), and keeps the film suspenseful even for the attentive viewer.

Indeed, the film encourages the audience to think. As soon as we get some conception of what's going on with Rose, we're encouraged to think of the events in epidemiological terms: What happens at the Keloid center sets up vectors, incubation times and symptoms for the audience to keep in mind, so that when we see Rose is out in the open and heading to the big city, we understand not just that it's very bad, but why and how, specifically.

That knowledge makes Marilyn Chambers's carrier an intriguing character. She doesn't have the inborn vampire instinct, but she takes to the bloodsucking fast enough. There remains something sweet about her, though, as she makes her way through Quebec leaving carnage in her wake. She knows she's been changed, but for the longest time it's tough to get a read on whether she thinks she's leaving anything but a little anemia behind her. Chambers doesn't play completely against her adult-film background, but there's still an innocence to her character. In a way, that's even more horrifying - Rose's umbilical isn't optimally positioned during sex, but during hugging.

Chambers gives an adequate, but not outstanding performance - I'm not surprised that this wasn't the beginning of a more mainstream career. Still, she's not exactly an embarrassment to the production, either. Frank Moore is similarly blank as her boyfriend, for instance. Joe Silver and Howard Ryshpan are interesting in their supporting roles, though. Silver gets to play the sane, practical center of the film and makes a good foil for both Ryshpan and Moore. Curiously, this seems to be the high point of Ryshpan's career, which is a shame; there's some interesting substance to the guy's character who seems to have some ambitions beyond giving rich people nose jobs.

This is David Cronenberg's second theatrical feature, and while a lot of things that would later become his trademarks are there, it's a little rough at points. No-one is more creative with the gross-outs than him, but for instance; his organic horrors are equal parts fascinating and icky. The early scenes at the Keloid Clinic have some great barbs at the cosmetic surgery industry - low-hanging fruit, to be sure, but done well. He seems to flounder in the final act, though - it's as if he's written himself into a corner by having his characters, including Rose, behave somewhat logically, and struggles to get the film to a climax.

That's a little unfortunate; it gives the people who think realistic behavior ruins movies a little bit of ammunition. Even when "Rabid" is a little mired, though, it's still oddly engrossing.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3021&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/11/07 20:46:55
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

3/24/17 Louise (the real one) Great shocker of a horror film with brilliant creepy soundtrack. 4 stars
6/12/11 art MARILYN cHambers in states of undress, is the big draw here. 2 stars
3/21/10 art it reminds me of JENNIFERS BODY and SLITHER,i saw this at DETROITS EAST SIDE DRIVE-_IN. 3 stars
7/02/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Full of freaky godness 4 stars
12/18/07 art a weird movie to say the least and it is theoriticaly talking about life a fair to middle s 3 stars
7/27/07 Wee Todd Didd After all these years still freaked by that armpit thing. 3 stars
5/20/06 mr.mike great porno theatre scene 4 stars
4/09/05 K. Sear Interesting and unsettling. It should be stupid but isn't. 4 stars
1/18/05 mR. BuNgLe Learn how to spell dumbass, it's 'berg' not 'burg' 5 stars
11/21/03 Charles Tatum Average stuff 3 stars
9/11/03 Jeb Manson Turns a weird idea into a great plot and a good movie. 4 stars
7/16/03 Fred How can you not love the phallic extension in Marilyn Chamber's armpit? 5 stars
1/12/03 Jack Sommersby Improved Cronenberg technique, but material is shoddily developed. 3 stars
4/04/02 dalostboyz Never seen it, but after hearing about a cock in the armpit..........well, I gotta now! 5 stars
4/02/02 Edfink Lombardo Good concept, poorly visualized...The armpit phallus still boggles my mind 2 stars
9/02/01 The-Dude great horror movie along the lines of dawn of the dead 4 stars
4/21/01 robert A great horror film experience 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  08-Apr-1977 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2004



Directed by
  David Cronenberg

Written by
  David Cronenberg

  Marilyn Chambers
  Frank Moore
  Joe Silver
  Patricia Gage

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast