Monday, November 8, 2010

Friday night-Rabid

Sunday, November 7, 2010 02:14 PM

Last Friday was an awesome day. I did a couple of firsts in physical therapy, then went to a party in the neighborhood that was the most fun I have had in a long time. What better way to cap off a great day like that than to watch David Cronenberg's 1977 film, Rabid .

David Cronenberg is one of my favorite movie makers. His last two films, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises are among my favorites. Early in his career, in the mid-1970's, he made a name for himself directing very original, creepy films horror films.

His first two, mainstream films, Shivers (1975) and Rabid (as they were known in the US) explored a subject that would soon became a world-wide obsession; a mass plague, transmitted by sexual contact that would transform its victims into monsters. Both these films were made well before AIDS became the global scourge it would later become in that decade and the one to follow.

People quickly demonized AIDS suffers or even people who might be a high risk. The first time I heard about AIDS was my freshman year at college, when someone voiced their fear of catching the disease from Haitian dining hall workers.

In both films, the plague is released in small, isolated communities, an exclusive apartment block on an island in the earlier film, and in a remote, sparsely populated area in Rabid.  Shivers ends with the infected leaving the island to spread the illness; Rabid goes a step further and shows what happens when the plague gets to a large city, Montreal.

In Shivers , Cronenberg casts a wide net with several competing story lines happening at once. Rabid is more restrained, focusing primarily on one couple, Hart and Rose. Marylin Chambers, primarily known for her career in adult films,   especially Beyond the Green Door, the 2001, a Space Odyssey of adult films, plays Rose.

Rose, a Typhoid Mary type carrier, wakes up from experimental surgery craving human blood. She ingests the blood through a proboscis like thing under her armpit that penetrates the victim and sucks the blood she needs. In a typically Cronenberg-esc image, while draining the blood, Rose calmly strokes her victim's heads in a disturbingly nurturing way.

When they awake, the victims are green foam spewing mopnsters, seeking their own supply. Except for when they are attacking, these monsters appear human enough to pass, able to get close to their intended victims, unleashing the plague in a largely populated area.

Marylin Chambers does an apt job in her role as Rose. The last act of the film allows her to show quite a bit of versatility. These are the scenes where she struggles with her changing identity; no longer being the person she was, young, pretty, surround by a nurturing group of friends and family, and what her illness has made her.

Anyway, both films are totally worth watching and I have moved Cronenberg's third film, The Brood to the top of my Netflix queue.

Monday, November 8, 2010 11:41 AM


Soiled Sinema said...

Personally, I hated Rabid. Fearing for the worst, I went in to Shivers bracing, only to find myself in awe at what a marvel I was witnessing. I must rewatch Rabid though so I can attempt to chew it apart in writing.


Michael Williams said...

That would definitely be interesting. It is rare when I get to re watch a movie, although Cronenberg's film are always better the second time.

Thanks for the comment! I am looking forward to checking out Soiled Sinema soon.