A Chambers piece
Release Date: 9 February
1977 | 18 | Dual format Blu- ray/ DVD Director: David Cronenberg Cast: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage
success of Shivers, David Cronenberg’s debut feature proper, he was asked for more of the same – and duly delivered.
Like Shivers, Rabid concerns an epidemic that unleashes its victims’ darker drives – this time, aggressive, not sexual. It’s at its best when jolting the viewer with sudden, savage violence: a surgeon snipping a colleague’s finger off with scissors; a construction worker driving a pneumatic drill through a car door.
Porn star Marilyn Chambers is perfectly adequate as the woman who spreads the infection – though the role isn’t exactly a stretch, given that it mostly requires her to act seductive, look ravenous, or simulate satiated satisfaction. In large part, Rabid is a porno without the sex.
It doesn’t match Shivers for two reasons. Firstly, the ridiculousness of the premise, which gave the director himself a crisis of confidence: as Cronenberg realised, “This woman grows a cock thing in her armpit and sucks people’s blood through it… This is nuts!” Secondly, Shivers’ tale of libidinal liberation had a clear philosophy underpinning it; Rabid doesn’t – and little is made of the unusual notion of a woman penetrating her victims. Despite its broader scope and scale, that means it isn’t quite as compelling as its predecessor.
An old Cronenberg commentary and interview, a 1999 documentary on his career, and five fresh features: commentary by a Cronenberg expert; interviews with two producers and an effects guy; a piece on production company Cinépix. A trailer and a booklet round things off. Ian Berriman When Marilyn Chambers had to cry on cue, she would “think of when Fluffy died” – Fluffy being the name of her pet cat.
“Hello, I’m from the 1970s.”