A young woman develops a taste for human blood after undergoing experimental plastic surgery, and her victims turn into rabid, blood-thirsty zombies who proceed to infect others, which turns into a city-wide epidemic.
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In Camelford, while swinging his van across a narrow road to make a u-turn, a driver stalls the vehicle that does not restart. Hart Read is driving his motorcycle with his girlfriend Rose and he drives off the road to avoid the collision. Hart suffers minor injuries while Rosie is injured and burned by the flames when the motorcycle explodes. The ambulance from the nearby Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery brings the couple and Rose, who is in coma, is submitted to an emergency surgery and to an experimental plastic-surgery technique by Dr. Dan Keloid to retrieve her skin in the chest and abdomen. Hart is discharged but Rose stays in coma in the intensive care unit (ICU) to recover. Out of the blue, Rose awakens from her coma one month later and screams. A nurse helps her but is wounded by her and then he cannot remember what has happened. He is sent to a hospital in Montreal while Rose realizes that she needs to feed with blood. However her victims become zombie-like creatures. Rose ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The painting with vertical orange swatches in Rose's post-surgery room gets turned on an angle and is splattered with blood following the first attack. Later, it is back to square on the wall and the blood has disappeared. See more »
All UK DVD versions are missing around 20 secs of footage from a conversation between the 2 male leads and a policeman in a parking lot. The edits were not made by the BBFC and appear to have been a result of print damage. See more »
Fascinating second feature from the master of body horror
A biker called Rose crashes near an unorthodox surgery. She is taken there for emergency treatment which entails a new experimental skin graft operation. Rose develops a phallic appendage that she uses to attain human blood, the only thing that can sustain her new biology. In doing so she maims her victims, transmitting a form of rabies onto them.
David Cronenberg's debut feature Shivers was extremely bold, original and visceral. He followed it up with Rabid which explores similar territory. In some ways it's a more expansive film but overall less intense. In this story the virus affects a whole city, so Cronenberg is able to incorporate more locations and action. On the other hand it's less claustrophobic than the Ballardian nightmare that was the apartment block in Shivers. It would only be fair to say that the science is somewhat less clear and more ambiguous in Rabid too. We never really know how it comes to be that Rose develops the vagina/penis mutation. All we know for sure is that it's an unexpected side effect of the experimental skin graft surgery. We also never really understand Rose's motivations, although it does seem like she is unaware of her blood lust. What is for sure though is that Rabid is another extremely interesting entry in Cronenberg's cycle of body horror movies that underlines his genius. When the director was informed once that he was the king of venereal horror he replied 'it's a small field but at least I'm king of it'.
In order to give their movie an angle over the multitude of other low budget horror films, the production company Cinépix suggested Marilyn Chambers for the lead role. At the time she was the world's number one porn actress, so her presence would guarantee the film some automatic visibility. As it turned out, she was very good in the lead role and certainly suggested that she could have done more proper acting. The film itself is an interesting twist on the vampire myth, with the influence of George Romero never far from the surface with some references to the likes of The Crazies. Pleasingly, as well as being as idiosyncratic as Cronenberg is, Rabid also works as a pure horror film. There are plenty of gory set-pieces and grotesque rabid lunatics. The Canadian setting provides other value too. The cold landscapes and sterile urban architecture really accentuates the feel that Cronenberg is going for, while the ending is very nihilistic and just perfect for this story.
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