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Year: 1977
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 97 min
Director: David Cronenberg
Producer: John Dunning
Executive Producer: André Link, Ivan Reitman
Writer: David Cronenberg
Cinematographer: René Verzier
Editor: Jean Lafleur
Sound: Dan Goldberg
Music: Ivan Reitman
Cast: Joe Silver, Patricia Gage, Howard Ryshpan, Frank Moore, Marilyn Chambers, Susan Roman, J Périard, Lynne Deragon
Production Company: Cinema Entertainment Enterprises Limited
Rose (Marilyn Chambers) and her boyfriend Hart (Frank Moore) are enjoying a pleasant motorcycle ride when a sudden accident leaves Rose critically injured. She undergoes emergency surgery at the Keloid Clinic of Cosmetic Surgery, where Dr. Dan Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) uses daring and experimental surgical techniques to save her life. Though successful, the operation leaves Rose in a deep coma. When she finally wakes, she is stricken with a wicked bloodlust, much like a vampire, and infects her victims with a form of rabies. The terror spreads as her victims, driven into a frenzied rage, attack and contaminate others, spreading the epidemic from the clinic to the countryside and finally into the city.

If David Cronenberg’s first two features, Stereo (1969) and Crimes of the Future (1970), are artistic twins, then their successors, Shivers (1975) and Rabid, form another natural pairing. Both films have a similar premise: a mad scientist attempts to better the world, but instead unleashes a cataclysm of horrendous power. In Shivers,the epidemic was confined to an apartment building; in Rabid, it eventually engulfs the entire city.

Rabid also serves as Cronenberg’s subversive commentary on the October Crisis of 1970; the film was shot in Montreal and features a world so crippled by fear that martial law has been imposed. Rabid combines some of Cronenberg’s most unpleasant obsessions during a period when he was working with cheaper budgets (when many fans argue he was at his best). Typically, Rabid has dark humour and some rather campy gore, and it features an effectively vulnerable performance from notorious porn star Marilyn Chambers. This film is not for all tastes, but is essential viewing for Cronenberg enthusiasts.