Rabid (1977)

RABID (1977)
Article 1790 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-7-2006
Posting Date: 7-7-2006
Directed by David Cronenberg
Featuring Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver

After suffering near-fatal injuries in a motorcycle accident, a woman is treated with experimental surgical methods to save her life. She recovers, but the surgery makes her unable to consume anything but human blood, and when she feeds on a victim, it leaves them infected with a virulent form of rabies.

Given Cronenberg’s obsessions with various subjects (medicine, sexually transmitted diseases, bodily changes), it’s no surprise that he would turn to horror after his initial art films. This was his second commercial feature, and it’s pretty good, if not great. The first time I saw this was on the USA network years ago, and it was so cut to ribbons that there wasn’t much left of it; it’s nice to finally see the complete movie. Marilyn Chambers was a good choice for the vampiric woman, as her career as a porn actress made the sexual nature of her predatory character more pointed (though I do wonder what it would have been like had Sissy Spacek, who had been the first choice for the role, had played it). It has its flaws; to these eyes, the foaming-at-the-mouth rabies victims look a little silly, and I never feel that Rose really becomes fully developed as a character, but the suspense is strong, and the downbeat ending is really quite powerful. I also liked the way that the rabid victims end up getting more media attention than Rose herself gets, being only the carrier of the disease and more subtle in her methods of attack.

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