BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Windows up. Doors locked. Such is the paranoid view that David Cronenberg’s Rabid presents in his commercial follow-up to his debut, Shivers. Quebec and Montréal, due to a highly suspect procedure received by Rose, the lead character actress Marilyn Chambers (of Behind the Green Door fame) plays, are both in a bit of a flesh-ripping panic. Canada’s usually peace-loving citizens are turning on each other and feasting on human flesh as if there is no tomorrow.
Thanks to a new scientific breakthrough at the Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery and a bunch of sex-starved men who simply cannot leave Miss Chambers alone, an unexpected bout of rabies has broken out across the city. Chambers, who desperately wanted to do something outside of the porn industry, is simply on fire throughout Cronenberg’s film. She’s both cool and coy throughout the film and, thanks to her name alone, probably got the film its wide release. The fact of the matter is that, as an actress, she is quite good. Too bad no one could ever see past her successes in 70s porn.
Produced by Ivan Reitman and cleverly filmed by René Verzier, Rabid extends Cronenberg’s fascination with the personal experience, weirdly twisting it into a voyeuristic approach to madness and murder thanks to a new orifice on Chambers’ body that inserts itself – through her armpit – into the bodies of her victim, leaving them with more than just an erection after embracing her. It’s great and poignant material for Chambers, who was trying to get something other than questions about whether or not her orgasms were real and escape the Deep Throat notoriety that hounded her wherever she went.
Cronenberg wanted Sissie Spacek to play the part of Rose, the motorcycle accident victim who is “saved” by the experimental doctors at Keloid Clinic with skin grafts. The studio said otherwise, wanting to get the film out to a wider release without the hassle of Spacek’s accent. Bad move on their part as Spacek was riding high on Carrie fame which Cronenberg and Verzier cleverly acknowledge as Chambers exits an adult theater (after killing another “handsy” man) and passes a film poster for Brian De Palma’s hit film.
While only his second full-length feature, his fascination with presenting the strange through physical body attachments is firmly on display. And, as it feels very much in-tune with his vampire-minded debut, there’s simply no denying that his particular trajectory toward the beautifully weird and wild side of things was already in place. The true artist can’t simply change course toward those wacky targets. He or she has to AIM for them from the very beginning and – even in 1977 – Cronenberg had his eyes on the prize.
With Rabid, Cronenberg’s particular brand of madness and body manipulation was granted a bigger canvas. The cult classic is now available to own for all your hi-def viewing pleasure thanks to Scream Factory’s 2K scan from the original camera negative.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 91 mins
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Cast: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver
Genre: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline: One minute they're perfectly normal, THE NEXT...
Memorable Movie Quote: "Potato man loves ketchup man."
Theatrical Distributor: New World Pictures
Release Date: April 8, 1977
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: November 22, 2016
Synopsis: 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.
Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray - November 22, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A
Presented in David Cronenberg’s preferred aspect ratio of 1.66:1, Rabid is a seriously solid 1080p release from Scream Factory. The crisp picture does have its limitations, but it is much better looking than any one previously released. Hands down, this is the one to own. Colors are strong. City details are cold and crisp and the night scenes have an unexpected depth of field. Arrow Video’s off-putting color-tinted version is all but forgotten with this release. The sound is distributed here with an adequate DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track.
There are two fascinating commentaries included on the release: one from Cronenberg himself and another recorded by William Beard, Author Of The Artist As Monster: The Cinema Of David Cronenberg. Both are delicious. Both are worth listening, too.
I think Canadian horror and science fiction releases are fascinating items that are too easily dismissed. The release of Rabid celebrates this aspect of filmmaking with a detail-heavy look at that topic from Cronenberg and Caelum Vatnsdal, author of They Came From Within: A History Of Canadian Horror Cinema. Not only are there two commentaries included with the purchase, but you also get a new interview with those closely tied to actress Marilyn Chambers. Their stories are fascinating. Scream Factory continues to go the distance to deliver the goods.
- NEW Audio Interview With Author Jill C. Nelson (Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women Of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985) And Marilyn Chambers' Personal Appearances Manager Ken Leicht
- NEW Young And Rabid – An Interview With Actress Susan Roman
- Archival Interview With David Cronenberg
- Interview With Executive Producer Ivan Reitman
- Interview With Co-producer Don Carmody
- From Stereo To Video – A Video Essay By Caelum Vatnsdal, Author Of They Came From Within: A History Of Canadian Horror Cinema
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
- Radio Spots
- Still Gallery