Monday, October 12, 2009

Suck It! Day 12 - Rabid

Man, nobody does horror like Cronenberg. The Fly. The Brood. Scanners. Videodrome. And today's movie, Rabid.

In 1977, when Rabid was released, Cronenberg had already established himself as a poet of what would come to be called "body horror." Characters in his films had things happen to their bodies that were beyond abnormal and into the realm of "dear God, why is this happening to me??!?!"


Rose (former porn star Marilyn Chambers) and her boyfriend are in a horrible motorcycle crash. She is critically injured and taken to the nearest medical facility, not strictly a hospital, more an experimental plastic surgery clinic. The skin-grafting goes surprisingly well, but there's an unseen side effect. She develops a brand new body orifice in her armpit which hides what I can only describe as stinger-penis. Let me run that by you again, an armpit-stinger-penis.

She rips off the IV that has been her only source of food, because of course she can only eat one thing now. Blood. But not only does she not have the fangs of a vampire, she doesn't bite and doesn't even drink the blood. With her mouth, that is. Her MO is that she hugs her victim super-tight, and the armit-stinger-penis stabs them and draws blood (but not enough to kill them). After each encounter, her victims cannot remember the incident at all, but they all eventually turn into rabid zombies. And suddenly, what began as a vampire body horror show has now become an apocalyptic zombie flick. The city falls into chaos until the virus can be contained and eventually Rose becomes just another body on the death heap.

I like this movie a lot, partly because it breaks pretty much all the traditions of the vampire lore (and manages to be half a zombie movie). And unlike The Series Which Shall Not Be Named, it does it in an interesting and meaningful way. Like most of Cronenberg's films, once you've seen it you see other people, you see yourself, and you see your own skin in a different light.

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