Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver
Running Time: 91 minutes
In only his second full-length feature, writer and director David Cronenberg continues the gory path he set on with SHIVERS. Another stomach-churing thriller set within the diseased world of heightened contagion, RABID expands in much the same way as George A. Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD, moving the horror from one apartment block to the packed city, subways and malls of Montreal. While the cult Canadian auteur doesn’t quite make RABID as memorable as Romero’s 70s zombie classic, it’s easy to see the progress made and further tracks laid for his familiar brand of body horror.
Starring former porn queen Marilyn Chambers, RABID sees the beauty badly injured in a motorcycle crash and rushed to the nearby plastic surgery clinic. It’s here that Dr. Keloid, a specialist in the process of working on a revolutionary new type of skin-graft, sees Rose as the perfect subject to test out his unproven methods. While the surgery appears to have worked, when she awakens from her coma, she’s cursed by the ability to feast on human blood via a protrusion that pops out of her armpit. Subsequently infecting her prey and turning them into psychotic flesh-eaters.
Looking back at this remastered blu-ray and it’s difficult not to see the similarities to last year’s bizarre sci-fi thriller UNDER THE SKIN. Jonathan Glazer’s film, starring Scarlet Johansson, was one of 2014s best. Still very early in his career, Cronenberg was still honing his craft, meaning RABID is not without its problems. The convenient plotting, having the early accident take place within walking distance from the hospital, raises a wry smile as plastered-up patients within the confines run around wearing binoculars.
There is never any hint as to why the experimental surgery leaves Rose as some kind of bloodsucker but in truth there really is no need to. Like the plot, it’s easy to skirt over such things and go with the flow. Cronenberg’s execution is raw but RABID has a lot going for it despite some weak writing. Adult star Chambers looks by far the most accomplished actor onscreen. She’s pretty great actually with clothes on or off!
- New High Definition Digital Transfer
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature
- Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio Commentary with writer-director David Cronenberg
- Audio Commentary with William Beard, author of The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg
- Archive interview with David Cronenberg
- Brand new interview with executive producer Ivan Reitman
- Brand new interview with co-producer Don Carmody
- Make-up Memories: Joe Blasco Remembers Rabid A short featurette in which Blasco recalls how the film’s various gruesome effects were achieved
- Raw, Rough and Rabid: The Lacerating Legacy of Cinépix Featurette looking back at the early years of the celebrated Canadian production company, including interviews with author Kier-La Janisse and special makeup artist Joe Blasco
- The Directors: David Cronenberg – A 1999 documentary on the filmmaker, containing interviews with Cronenberg, Marilyn Chambers, Deborah Harry, Michael Ironside, Peter Weller and others
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nat Marsh
- Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kier-La Janisse, reprinted excerpts of Cronenberg on Cronenberg and more, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
RABID is released on remastered Blu-ray from Arrow Video from February 16.