Pray it doesn't happen to you.
Once upon a time, forty years ago, when Sissy Spacek still mattered, there were two people on a speeding bike, complete to the POV of the tires maneuvering the Quebec mountainside road curves. Before that we had a porn star, looking like a legitimate B actress named Marilyn Chambers – one of the few to successfully crossover into mainstream Hollywood – resting on a 1977 Norton Commando and dressed like a rock star. We also had Frank Moore as her boyfriend, who rode with such speed that an accident was inevitable. Then we had the good doctor from Shivers, 1975, Joe Silver talking to his colleagues about plastic surgery and what not; colleagues that included a ‘B’ beauty who just sat there and looked pretty because if she spoke she would say something ridiculous like, “But we have a lot of important decisions to make”, in response to Dr. Murray Cypher jumping off his seat upon hearing that there has been an accident near the clinic. It was called Keloid Clinic; keloids are ugly scar tissue on the surface of the skin. This man had a goal in his head. A man barely in his thirties called David Cronenberg who had frantically filmed Shivers two years previously. This all happened a long time back.
Rabid is rather unique in its presentation of pseudo-sexual ideas for you see once Rose goes under the scalpel for a boobs graft – because that is where she is burned the most – she is not normal anymore. And with Cronenberg directing that could mean some really nasty shit; in a vein to which it adds tremendous weight. Hart Read comes clean with a broken elbow and a concussion, which makes him speak like this: “Awww, geee… I didn’t kill her, did I?”
The B-film kinks like the poster of The Vitruvian Man and an eye- chart besides a gurney in a clinic, the tepid performances, constriction of the set design and Dr. Keloid (Howard Ryshpa) himself painstakingly explaining various tissue types and what they do and ordering the staff to hand him equipment (Dr. Keloid has the eyebrows of Martin Scorsese) are all compensated with the scenes where phallic nightmares come true in a truly peculiar manner and through parts of the human anatomy. The transformation is sudden and one of them results in a pretty fucking impressive vehicle mashup. A theme that Cronenberg would go on to elaborate much upon in his film Crash, 1996, based on J. G. Ballard‘s 1973 novel. The same guy who wrote High Rise. However the book shown in this film is “The Life and Works of Sigmund Freud” by Ernest Jones. The hospital staff gives Rose a book to read and she says, “Oh, I don’t know, it could terrify me.” Lady, you’re going around infecting people with that ugly as fuck thing that comes out of… Oh, never mind.
Rabid is grotesque in a very David – The Fly – Cronenberg way, it could be a commentary on cosmetics, consumerism, capitalism, Disneyland, safe-sex-education; who knows what the mad scientist has in his head?
And oh, we get to see the poster for Carrie, 1976 as Rose walks by a cinema. Sissy Spacek was supposed to play Rose but fate had things in store for Miss Chambers.