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Rabid

Canada 1977
produced by
John Dunning, André Link (executive), Ivan Reitman (executive) for Canadian Film Development Corporation (= CFDC), Famous Players
directed by David Cronenberg
starring Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Howard Ryshpan, Joe Silver, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman, Roger Periard, Lynne Deragon, Terry Schonblum, Victor Désy, Julie Anna, Gary McKeehan, Terence G. Ross, Miguel Fernandes, Robert O'Ree, Greg Van Riel, Jérôme Tiberghien, Allan Moyle, Richard W.Farrell, Jeannette Casenave, Karl Wasserman, John Boylan, Malcolm Nelthorpe, Vlasta Vrana
screenplay by David Cronenberg, special effects by Al Griswold

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 willingly ...

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.

Very nice.

 

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.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD