Rabid (1977) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Two thumbs down from us, although genre nuts and David Cronenberg aficionados seem to like this film.

Scoop's notes in white:

The victim of a motorcycle crash is turned into a rabid man-eating monster by bad skin graft surgery.

I didn't know that reconstructive surgery could have this effect.

But it sure explains a lot about Madonna.

In addition to whatever biting she does with her mouth, the rabid woman also has a vagina in her armpit, and inside the vagina is a penis which emerges to penetrate the victims.

Where exactly did they graft that skin from?

Anyway, she bites some people and makes them rabid. They then bite some other people, and so on. The Canadian authorities find a way to inoculate against the madness, but there is no hope for the previously infected man-eating monsters. The health authorities report that those already contaminated must be killed and their bodies must be disposed of. To comply, the police start driving around in armored garbage trucks. Some of the police act as snipers on the roof of the trucks, while the other guys serve as the disposal crew, wearing those white anti-contamination suits which make them look like Tony Manero trying to disco on the moon.

This film has to be a big disappointment for lovers of screen nudity. I mean, the star is porno queen Marilyn Chambers, and she keeps her clothes on most of the time. Even when she strips, she never shows anything but her breasts. If Marilyn Frigging Chambers stays dressed, what is the world coming to?

This film was Marilyn's big chance, the road out of porn and into real movies. As it turns out, it was about as obscene in its way as her porn films, and had about as big an audience, so Marilyn's hopes were dashed. 

I met Marilyn Chambers once, at a magazine convention in Florida in the early 80's. It wasn't a pleasant meeting. I wasn't bothering her or anything, but I went over to introduce myself at happy hour, just to be polite (we were both guest speakers at the convention). For whatever reason, she didn't even say "hi, nice ta meecha". I guess I could understand if she just avoided me. I mean she wouldn't have been the first woman to do so, or the last. But she avoided everyone, male and female. The person you see on screen in Rabid is the woman I ran into. The aloofness and apparent lack of warmth that I saw from her that day also came through in this performance.

The hosts of that convention laid out a beautiful party in the evening, and the guest speakers mingled with the publishers. Except Marilyn. She wandered off to her own outside table, far from the bar, where she sat huddled for hours with the other woman who accompanied her to the convention. Their heads stayed close and their postures were intimate enough that my associates and I expected them to kiss one another, although they never did.


Marilyn Chambers showed her breasts many times, but nothing else.

The brave director who took a chance on Marilyn Chambers was the odd Canadian auteur David Cronenberg, who wrote and directed. Cronenberg's scores are in a narrow predictable band at IMDb. He has his enthusiastic cult following, and then there are people who find his movies totally repulsive, so he always ends up far from either the top or bottom because of the pull of these opposing poles toward the center. His scores are all within the narrow band of 5.5 to 7.1, and that is the range from Crash (low) to Dead Zone (high).

To illustrate my point, the score most often given to Crash is 1/10. The second most common score is 10/10. So people love him or hate him.

Crash (his movie lowest rated movie at IMDB) got perfect tens from one out of every seven voters, but Dead Zone (his highest rated at IMDB) got perfect scores only once in ten. And I understand that completely. I think you could make equal cases for Crash being his best movie or his worst. Dead Zone does best at IMDb because it is his most human and accessible film, and it even has a sensitive character with whom we can sympathize. But I suspect that Cronenberg's hardcore fans like that one the least.

The movie is gross and outré, characteristic of Cronenberg films. While it is odd, and occasionally packs some shock value, I thought it was pretty darned boring and flat. The only real surprise was the very first time that Marilyn attacked someone with the dreaded armpit twat-cum-dick. After that, it was the usual trite dialogue and predictable events, and Cronenberg's usual paranoia about the misuse of science and authority.

I wonder if he ever considered working with Oliver Stone.

Tuna's notes in yellow:

Rabid (1977) is a David Cronenberg horror film starring the former Ivory Soap Girl, Marilyn Chambers. After modeling, and appearing in two real films, Marilyn became famous for a porn film, Behind the Green Door, and then appeared in two more adult films before returning to legitimate film in this scream queen role. Unfortunately, she was not much of an actress at this point in her career, and was more of a shriek/whine queen here.

Marilyn and her boyfriend are in a very serious motorcycle accident. He is only slightly injured, but she is trapped under the burning bike, and has severe wounds. Luckily, she is near a designer plastic surgery clinic, and the head surgeon patches her up using radical new grafting techniques. When she regains consciousness, the trouble starts. Seems she has gained a special probe in her arm pit, with which she drinks blood. Her victims contract a rabies-like disease, which they spread to others by biting them, and then die. Soon all of Montreal is under martial law, but nobody realizes who the Typhoid Mary is. Soldiers have to shoot victims on sight, because the infected will die anyway, and killing them is the only way to stop the from spreading the infection. Probably the highlight of the film occurs in a mall, where a soldier opens up on an infected person, and blows Santa away in the process.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic

I was not impressed with this film. There is insufficient pace to build any excitement, and there is no suspense, as we know immediately what started the epidemic. Couple that with what I found a very weak performance from Chambers, and this is a film for genre addicts only.

The Critics Vote ...

  • BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, both reviewers agree that this film is a C-, for genre addicts only. It's nearly unwatchable unless you are a hard-core Cronenberg addict.

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