Revisiting David Cronenberg’s “Rabid,” Streaming Now On Shudder!

By on December 7, 2017

Night Flight recently partnered up with Shudder — the AMC Network’s horror streaming channel — and they’ve asked us to curate a guest row of content, and so we turned to our resident expert on ’80s cult horror, our social media editor KJ, who selected four films from their cult horror library.

We had asked members of Night Flight’s community to select the fifth movie you’ll find in our row of five cult horror titles, and the winner is David Cronenberg’s 1977 cult fave Rabid!

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The poll is now closed, and thanks for voting! By the way, we’re still offering 25% OFF on an annual subscription (regularly just $29.99 for the whole year) to Night Flight Plus (promo code: SHUDDER), and a free month of Shudder (promo code: NIGHTFLIGHT)!

Read more about David Cronenberg’s 1977 cult fave Rabid below.

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In Rabid, Marilyn Chambers — star of the adult film Behind the Green Door (1972) and a former Ivory Snow soap box girl — plays Rose, who is badly injured when she and her boyfriend Hart Read (Frank Moore) have a motorcycle accident on a rural highway outside Montréal, slick with melting winter snow.

She’s taken to the nearby Keloid Clinic — the first in a line of franchised resorts for rich cosmetic surgery patients — after it’s been determined she wouldn’t survive the long three-hour trip to a better-equipped hospital.

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In order to save her life, Dr. Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) performs a radical emergency plastic surgery — a horrifyingly experimental skin graft procedure with tissue treated by a solution that makes it morphogentically neutral — but when Rose awakens from her coma a month later she learns she now has a retractable appendage in her armpit, some kind of crazy phallus/stinger embedded deep in a vagina-like cavity. She’s also suddenly developed a craving for human blood.

She escapes from the clinic, hitchhiking back to her home, but she must now feed on victims to satiate her desire for blood, turning them into rabid, blood-thirsty zombies with green foam spewing from their mouths.

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These zombies then proceed to infect others, and suddenly Montréal is suffering a citywide, rabies-like epidemic.

Because there is no known cure for this new strain of rabies, city officials eventually decide to declare martial law to keep this infectious zombie disease from spreading, but it may be too late from turning the most populous municipality in the province of Quebec into shadowy city of lurking horror (many would later see Rabid as a kind of metaphor for the budding AIDS epidemic).

Here, Rose is heartbreakingly portrayed by Chambers as a reluctant predator, using her sexuality to entrap her prey, injecting her unsuspecting victims during an embrace, while simultaneously drinking their blood (Cronenberg’s original treatment was titled Mosquito), her face revealing she’s in a state of near sexual ecstasy.

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Rabid was horror director David Cronenberg’s fourth feature, released in 1977, after he’d already directed another successful cult classic, Shivers (a.k.a. They Came From Within, 1975), and as he would continue to explore with much of his work, this film has strong sexual undertones mixed in with the bloody violence.

The film was picked up for U.S. distribution by New World after screening at the Cannes Film Festival, and promoted with movie posters taglined: “You can’t trust your mother… your best friend… the neighbor next door… one minute they’re perfectly normal, the next… RABID! Pray it doesn’t happen to you!”

Watch David Cronenberg’s Rabid on AMC’s Shudder and make sure you check out Night Flight’s curated row on Shudder this month, which will include Cronenberg’s cult classic Rabid and five more Night Flight selects.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.