This David Cronenberg body horror entry is pretty bawdy too. Rabid is one of the funnier film’s in the director’s oeuvre, but then again, that’s akin to being Tyler Perry’s most cerebral Madea. Still, we don’t go to him seeking a yuk-fest. We go to DC for some prime earth-shattering, teeth-chattering horror.
In the early Cronenberg movies we are frequently cautioned about encroaching scientism, evil precision tinkering that spans the macro to the micro-scope.
And that’s what we get in spades in Rabid.
There’s a gloomy research hospital in the middle of some misbegotten landscape. And it must spring into action to perform trauma surgery on a young woman (Rose, played by Marilyn Chambers), something for which they’re not really equipped. Instead, under the direction of the terrifically-handled Dr. Keloid (named, appropriately, after a collagen scar) the patient receives an experimental graft.
Graft is an interesting double-entendre, something that Rabid really explores: it’s both a piece of transplanted tissue, and also bribery, used to secure illicit gain, something Cronenberg explores as of course, investors are interested in profiting from this out-there medical practice.
Rose, still in a coma from the fiery crash, is visited by a friend, Lloyd. Suddenly, she springs to life and bites him, and the wound sustained to his rib cage isn’t clotting when he’s given an examination at the local General. And he doesn’t remember any of what had transpired.
We suddenly see that Rose is experiencing a nasty treatment side-effect: a vaginal, pulsating orifice under her armpit which extrudes a proboscis.
With Lloyd and Rose infected, the Keloid Clinic becomes Ground Zero for a rabies-like outbreak (there’s even mention of swine flu by a talking head on the evening news), which spreads throughout the Quebec countryside as the twosome venture farther afoot, she by hitchhiking, he by cab.
Rabid has a drab, austere setting (apparently, Cronenberg’s tax shelter films were frequently put into production in winter and early spring), which serves it well, and the interiors complement the interior / body horror, as you get the trademark claustrophobic feel.
**** (out of 5)
[Please check out our podcast discussion of Rabid!]