Friday, October 04, 2013
Rabid (1977 film)
Written and directed by David Cronenberg, Rabid is the story of a woman who awakens from surgery following a motorcycle accident where she unknowingly creates a wave of rabid zombies. The film has Cronenberg continuing his fascination with body horror as well as a woman dealing with the disease she’s spreading. Starring Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman, and Ronald Mlodzik. Rabid is a chilling yet exciting film from David Cronenberg.
The film is about this emerging epidemic in which people with rabies are biting other people as the carrier of this disease is a woman who had just gotten out of surgery following a motorcycle accident. It’s a film that is about people dealing with this epidemic while its main story follows this woman who doesn’t know she’s the carrier as she has no idea what she’s doing until those she comes in contact with she attacks with a mysterious orifice that comes out of her armpit in need of human blood. It’s a premise that is very simple that plays into the idea of a rabid zombie outbreak as it includes minor subplots of medical officials and such trying to figure out how this outbreak happened. David Cronenberg doesn’t exactly reveal what happened to this woman during the surgery but suggests that something might’ve gone wrong and led to the chaos that happens in the film.
The film’s lack of conventional plot does allow Cronenberg to play with the conventions of what is expected in the horror genre where he knows how to play with the rhythms of suspense and horror. Notably as his direction has Cronenberg keeping things simple in terms of compositions while he does start things off with this very intense sequence of Rose (Marilyn Chambers) and her boyfriend Hart (Frank Moore) riding in a motorcycle until they come across a van and crash. A lot of the framing and compositions are engaging in the way it plays to the suspense where Cronenberg knows something will happen and doesn’t try to infuse any tricks. Even as Cronenberg would get some close-ups of the strange orifice under Rose’s armpit to see what it’s doing and how it spreads to those it comes into contact with. Even as it causes an outbreak where things intensify for the film’s third act as martial law comes in and there’s that element of danger where no one is safe. Overall, Cronenberg creates a very intriguing and thrilling film about an outbreak of rabid zombies.
Cinematographer Rene Verzier does excellent work with the cinematography where a lot of exterior shots of the locations near Montreal are straightforward along with some stylish lights for the scenes at night and for some of its interiors. Editor Jean LaFleur does amazing work with the editing by creating some intense cuts for some of its suspense as well as methodical rhythms to help build up its suspense. Art director Claude Marchand does nice work with some of the set pieces such as the clinic where Rose was taken to early in the film as well as the apartment Hart lived in.
Special makeup design by Joe Blasco is fantastic for the design of the phallic orifice that is under Rose‘s armpit as well as the hole it comes out of as well as the look of the infected people who roam around Montreal. Sound supervisor Danny Goldberg does terrific work with the sound to play up the atmosphere of the location as well as broaden the wave of horror that occurs in the film. The film’s soundtrack, that is supervised by its executive producer Ivan Reitman, features an array of music that is mostly some chilly orchestral music as well as some pop and country tunes that is played on the radio.
The casting by Sharron Wall is brilliant for the ensemble that is created as it features some notable appearances from Ronald Mlodzik as a patient, Susan Roman as Rose’s friend/roommate Mindy, Richard W. Farrell as the driver of the camper van that causes the accident, Howard Ryshpan as the head clinic doctor Dr. Keloid who performs Rose’s surgery unaware of what he’s done, Patricia Gage as Keloid’s wife, and Joe Silver as Dr. Keloid’s business partner Murray Cypher who tries to deal with the chaos of what is happening as he accompanies Hart. Frank Moore is superb as Rose’s boyfriend Hart who learns about what happened at the hospital as he tries to find Rose while discovering about the chaos that is happening with the zombie outbreak. Finally, there’s Marilyn Chambers in a wonderful performance as Rose as this woman who has no idea what she’s doing except she’s hungry for blood as she later becomes troubled. It’s an engaging performance from Chambers who is able to use her limitations to create a sympathetic yet terrifying performance.
Rabid is a marvelous film from David Cronenberg that features an excellent performance from the late Marilyn Chambers. The film isn’t just an exciting zombie-outbreak film but also a horror film that plays with its conventions while creating an energy that is just fun to watch. In the end, Rabid is an extraordinary film from David Cronenberg.
David Cronenberg Films: Stereo - Crimes of the Future - Shivers - Fast Company - The Brood - Scanners - Videodrome - The Dead Zone - The Fly (1986 film) - Dead Ringers - Naked Lunch - M. Butterfly - Crash - eXistenZ - Spider - A History of Violence - Eastern Promises - A Dangerous Method - Cosmopolis - Maps to the Stars - Crimes of the Future (2022 film)
The Auteurs #26: David Cronenberg: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2
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