31 Horror Movies in 31 Days- Rabid (1977)

Those of you with a proclivity for 70’s-era pornography will immediately recognize Marilyn Chambers who is the heroine of David Cronenberg’s Canadian body horror picture Rabid. Before Sasha Grey transitioned to legitimate cinema, Chambers aimed beyond her forte with this grimy, semi-satirical sleeper about cosmetic perfection and medical manipulation.

The patients at the Keloid Clinic are so infatuated with their perceived abnormalities that are humorously wrapped in gauze under their eyes and around their heads when witness the motorcycle accident that causes Rose (Chambers) to be irrevocable injured and then tampered with “morphogenetically neutral” skin grafts that will adapt to her singed areas.

Since it was his second film, much of the acting is amateurish with Frank Moore as Hart being relatively wooden when he surmises that Rose may have perished in the collision. Due to the fact that Chambers is an erotic actress, she definitely isn’t puritanical about being topless when she awakens in her hospital room screaming and most of her intonations are of the come-hither variety which works wonderfully for her aroused male victims.

This is one of the sparse instances where an anarchic remake would be advised because this version resembles a spendthrift Roger Corman production. The culmination of the spreading virus would be gangbusters with a hefty budget. Rose’s spree consists of her bear-hugging innocent bystanders which provokes unintentional laughter over overwhelming, hypochondriac fear. The pandemic in Rabid is hampered by Cronenberg’s inexperience behind the camera at the time and a brazen distaste for the male population (every man in Rose’s path is a pervert including a lecherous reprobate in a movie theater).

The movie is sketchily executed but the close-ups of Rose’s armpit orifice are genuinely livid. Much like George A. Romero’s The Crazies, this dystopian premise is ripe for widespread panic but the film itself is a shlocky, one-note disappointment with a 50’s radio drama soundtrack and a slightly invasive elaboration on the zombie subgenre.

Rating: 2 out of 5


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