16 February 2015

Blu-ray Review - Rabid

Horror, Sci-fi
Arrow Video
BD Release Date:
16th February 2015 (UK)
Rating: 18
Region: B/2
Dolby, PAL
Running Time:
91 Minutes
David Cronenberg
Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver
Buy:Rabid [Dual Format DVD & Blu-ray]

Rabid was David Cronenberg’s 2nd proper feature length film; he previously made the two early hour-long experimental films. It followed the surprise success of Cronenberg’s debut Shivers and like that film it’s a sci-fi infected horror film about disease. Cronenberg hadn’t truly fine-tuned his style yet with these early films, the first film in my opinion that showed his capabilities would be Scanners. However the film is fascinating and has many virtues to admire.

The porn star Marilyn Chambers plays a woman named Rose who is injured in a motorcycle crash. However due to the experimental nature of the operation she develops a taste for blood. She soon starts infecting people and it soon becomes a full fledge outbreak after her victims start infecting the population.

Cronenberg wanted Sissy Spacek for the lead role of Rose and it would have probably been for the better. Marilyn Chambers is perfectly fine in performance and is one of the better porn stars turned mainstream actors performances but she was no Traci Lords. Chambers was notorious for her role in the Behind the green door, a film Cronenberg is adamant he has still never seen. Spacek’s casting would have given the film some air of class and ironically there is a poster visible for Carrie, the classic horror film Sissy Spacek ended up doing in the same year.

Like his previous film Shivers, the film is much more of a down and dirty exploitation film than his more artful later films. They have numerous gross-out moments but even in these early films his cinematic obsessions with the body are evident. Rabid is more of a zombie film and except for Romero’s Zombie films; I’m not a massive fan of the genre so I don’t find it as interesting. He would later perfect his trademark body horror in films like Videodrome (which Arrow will be releasing later on) and The Fly. I personally prefer Shivers over Rabid due to it’s a more sci-fi angle with it’s Ballardian take on rabid moral decline of the inhabits in the film’s apartment complex.

Arrow has compiled an astonishing wealth of material for their Blu-Ray release. First up is a pair of commentaries, one by David Cronenberg and one by William Beard, author of The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg. Cronenberg pops up again in a 20 minute archive interview and there is fantastic new interview with Ivan Reitman talking about his involvement with Cronenberg on these early films and the almost Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy adaptation they did together. There is a featurette on the legacy of Cineplex, the company responsible for Cronenberg’s early films and other films like Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. Yet again Arrow includes one of The Directors documentaries and naturally this time the Cronenberg one and out of the handful I’ve seen, it’s the most insightful and interesting and isn’t as much of a puff piece as others. There are additional interviews, the trailer and a lengthy booklet.

Ian Schultz

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