Ra­bid

A Cham­bers piece

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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

Af­ter the

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.”

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