DVD Review: Rabid


David Cronenberg built a reputation as a filmmaker through the establishment of what was to become classed as the “body horror” genre. The Canadian director’s fascination with the effect of scientists’ experimentation on humans was a recurring theme through much of his early work; most famously in the remake of The Fly and Videodrome. His first film, Shivers, was a low budget and small scale exploration of the dangers of human experimentation. In his international breakthrough, Rabid, he takes builds on this with a much more ambitious scope.

After being critically injured in a motorcycle accident, Rose (Marilyn Chambers) is rushed to the nearby plastic surgery clinic owned by Dr Dan Keloid (Howard Ryshpan). She undergoes experimental treatment and skin is grafted on to the damaged areas. Whilst Rose seems to have made a miraculous recovery, something is not quite right. She’s developed a phallic stinger under her arm and a thirst for blood. When the chaos she unleashes breaks out of the facility it threatens to wipe out the whole of Montreal.

Rabid caused controversy upon release, as much for its sexuality as the gory effects. It was a huge overreaction as Cronenberg balances the shock and humour nicely. The choice of Marion Chambers, a fairly notorious porn star at the time, is an odd one.(he tried to get Sissy Spacek originally). Having said that, her lack of conventional acting experience merely adds to the oddness of Rabid. The initial ideas present in Shivers are successfully expanded to a much larger scale. Rabid remains an entertaining film which demonstrates the myriad ideas and talent of a director who went on to be one of the most influential of his generation.

New High Definition Digital Transfer
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature
Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio Commentary with writer-director David Cronenberg
Audio Commentary with William Beard, author of The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg
Archive interview with David Cronenberg
Brand new interview with executive producer Ivan Reitman
Brand new interview with co-producer Don Carmody
Make-up Memories: Joe Blasco Remembers Rabid – A short featurette in which Blasco recalls how the film’s various gruesome effects were achieved
Raw, Rough and Rabid: The Lacerating Legacy of Cinépix – Featurette looking back at the early years of the celebrated Canadian production company, including interviews with author Kier-La Janisse and special makeup artist Joe Blasco
The Directors: David Cronenberg – A 1999 documentary on the filmmaker, containing interviews with Cronenberg, Marilyn Chambers, Deborah Harry, Michael Ironside, Peter Weller and others
Original Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nat Marsh
Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kier-La Janisse, reprinted excerpts of Cronenberg on Cronenberg and more, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.

Rabid is released on Dual Format DVD & Blu-ray by Arrow Films today.

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