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Rose (Marilyn Chambers) is terribly injured in a motorbike accident.
The good news is that the accident happens right next to the Keloid
Clinic, so she is in hospital in no time (even though the Keloid Clinic
has specialised on plastic surgery) - but the bad news is that Dr Keloid
(Howard Ryshpan) himself performs the necessary surgery on her, and he is
hell-bent to try a new, untested method for skin transplantation on her.
Now the good news about that is that Rose is really cured fairly
quickly (considering the graveness of her injuries), the bad news is that
she has somehow grown an extra organ, protruding from under her armpit and
mainly used to slice people open, and that she has now a craving for human
blood while all other food (and even animal blood) makes her throw up.
Now this alone would be bad enough, but it's even worse that she
infects everyone she stings with her new organ with rabies (to which she
for some reason is immune), and soon enough, the hospital is full of rabid
patients (and staff, including Dr Keloid) and is put under quarantine ...
but it's already too late because Rose has checked herself out or the
clinic and now hitchhikes back to Montreal, infecting everyone who gives
her a ride and quite a few people in the city as well ... and since the
rabies are highly infectuous, soon an epedemic has broken out.
Rose has meanwhile moved in with her friend Mindy (Susan Roman), and
has to continually fight with herself to not suck blood from Mindy as well
- until Mindy, unaware of Rose's predicament, offers her help quite too
In the meantime, Rose's boyfriend Hart (Frank Moore) has somehow
figured out that it is Rose who infects all those people with rabies, but
when he stops over at her place, he sees her leaning over Mindy, drinking
her blood. Hart confronts Rose with what he has found out, but she won't
believe him ... and in an ensueing fight, she tosses him down a staircase.
Then she decides to prove him wrong, picks up a man, lets him invite her
to his appartment, stings him with her organ and drinks his blood ... jut
a little so he passes out but doesn't die or anything. Waiting for him to
wake up again, she phones Hart (who has recovered from his fall) and tells
him what she has done ... which naturally shocks him, since he knows what
will happen - and really, before long Rose's latest victim wakes up and
kills her in a rabid fit ...
The last shot shows some municipal workers in protective suits
unceremonously throwing her dead body onto a garbage truck now used for
disposing corpses ...
Of course, my synopsis suggests this film to be little more than cheap
and a tad ridiculous trash - but then again, unlike most other
sci-fi/horror directors, director/writer David Cronenberg is treating his
subject matter (often called body horror) seriously enough to give
it an extra dimension and is interested in tell his (a tad silly) story
intelligently. And on this account the film really works, turning its
admittedly trashy story not into a mindless gorefest (though Cronenberg
did not save on gore) but an interesting piece of work treating the
psychosexual aspects of the story as well as the horror-aspects - but
without forgetting to entertain.
By the way, porn star Marilyn Chambers in the lead, who, because of her
history and notoriety, seems to be perfect as the woman whose embrace
kills, was allegedly only second choice for the role after Sissy Spacek
turned it down.