Sunday, 3 November 2013


Rabid – David Cronenberg – DVD – Possibly the most gloriously ridiculous premise for a zombie-esque film ever devised! Cronenberg himself even had misgivings that the audience wouldn’t take it seriously, those around him assured him of the film’s strength…and thankfully he persevered. Rabid is a thrilling, tense and brilliantly enjoyable (relatively low budget) film, made before Videodrome, The Brood or Scanners it feels better paced and more cohesively structured. Now…for the premise: A woman is in a motorcycle accident, she is rushed to the nearest hospital (which happens to be an experimental pioneering plastic surgery lab) and has a ‘never before tested’ skin graft. Naturally, something goes horribly wrong. Naturally, as a result of complications, the woman develops a blood sucking penis that grows beneath her armpit. So, we have surgery body horror meets succubus, zombie creating, sexually ambiguous, drama ahoy! When her carnal lust for blood becomes insatiable the probe like growth shoots from a (near vaginal) opening under the armpit and stabs her chosen victim. The victims then become zombies…the film then blossoms into a Freudian/Romero mash up of social and sexual critique. Nothing says subtle symbolism like a cock that emerges from a vaginal armpit oddity, Cronenberg took this blessed creation…and my, how he ran with it.  The film manages to commendably carry off this laughable concept with straight-faced tension. Cronenberg originally wanted Sissy Spacek to play the female lead (after watching Terrence Malick’s Badlands), but the studio insisted that, to ensure success and distribution, they needed a name (when Spacek went on to star in Carrie she ironically became such a name). In her place the (then famous) porn star Marilyn Chambers was chosen. Having wanted to try a ‘legitimate film’ for some time, Cronenberg’s Rabid was a perfect opportunity. Despite providing a genuinely competent and even arresting performance (perhaps drawing on her physically relaxed experience-plentiful writhing and topless scenes abound), Chambers sadly (for the ‘legitimate film’ community…less so, for her doubtless avid porn fans) returned to pornography after the film, never again acting in a ‘legitimate film’. 7/10

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