Rabid (1977) Movie Review
Written By: K.M.C.
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: David Cronenberg
Producers: John Dunning
Writers: David Cronenberg
Date Released: April 8, 1977
Marilyn Chambers as Rose
Joe Silver as Murray Cypher
Frank Moore as Hart Read
Patricia Gage as Roxanne Keloid
Howard Ryshapen as Dan Keloid
Susan Roman as Mindy Kent
J. Roger Periard as Lloyd Walsh
Terry Schonblum as Judy Glasberg
Lynne Deragon as Nurse Louise
Victor Désy as Claude LaPointe
Rating = 3/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Rose and Hart are out on a motorcycle ride when they crash into a broken down van in the middle of the road. Hart is left with minimal damages while Rose is rushed to Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery due to her critical state. Dan Keloid decides to use a radically new skin graft procedure to her chest and abdomen in order to save Rose’s life. At first, the procedure seems to be a success as Rose reaches a fully-recovered state within days. The result of the procedure quickly takes a turn when those around Rose begin to develop symptoms like those of the living dead.
Pussy eyes, foaming mouths, and minimal blood shed onto their victims causes those infected to not give much of a gore element to the film. There are scenes here and there where blood stained clothes and hands make an appearance, as well as a few penetration zoom-ins that make you squirm while watching Rabid. But for the most part, this film is on the quieter side when it comes to blood and guts.
The Grave Review
It is evident as to why many acclaim Rabid to be a cult classic especially in Quebec, Canada, where it became one of the highest-grossing Canadian films of all time. The story line is one that was so strong and believable, it sparked fear into people’s everyday lives which, in turn, caused an actual rabies scare within Quebec that lasted a month or two after the release of the film. What makes this film stand out of its time is that not once were the words “zombie” or “the living dead” mentioned in the entire film. Rather than being a classic zombie movie, Cronenberg decided to take a more realistic approach by imitating what officials would say if a rabies-like pandemic were to break out in real life. This is what made the film more relatable, especially when watching Rabid today during the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Chambers takes a more sexual and dominant approach to Rose’s character rather than a timid, scared personality that was common in 1977. Although it may not have been prompted in the script, it is to no surprise of Chambers sexual flare within each of her character’s killings given that Chambers’ career lied mostly in the pornographic industry. Although Chambers was the lead, Silver’s performance shadowed Chambers’ performance in an unusual way. Giving Christopher Walkin vibes throughout the film, Silver’s performance added a very calm and collected, yet concerned air to Hart Read. The cool guy persona was strong even up until the end in his final interaction with Rose. In regards to the rest of the cast, overacting and underacting play a role within each minor character other than the politicians, who are very convincing within their broadcasts.
The film itself is an enjoyable parasite-fueled delicacy. It reached many more markets due to the notion of giving the lead role to a well-known pornstar thanks to Ivan Reitman, who suggested Chambers to Cronenberg and Dunning. A remake of the 1977 film came to life in 2019 directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska. Rather than a meat rod coming out of Rose’s armpit, the 2019 remake pushes for a more zombie-like spread where Rose attacks her victims in a vampire-like way. The modern take lets the audience develop a connection to Rose which makes her less of a villain whereas in the 1977 version, the audience is skeptical of Rose from the jumpstart. Although this is a positive trait in the modern take, it is the only positive take throughout the whole film compared to Cronenberg’s Rabid. Over the top, humorous, and predictable, the Soskas fail to shine a light to the original 1977 Rabid.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Rabid (1977) three out of five graves.
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