Sunday, November 13, 2011

Everyone You Love is a Zombie

1977 was a good year for horror movies like Suspiria (Argento), and Martin (Romero), both which are now considered cult classics. At this time, a budding Canadian filmmaker named Daid Cronenberg, fresh off a series of student films and his first feature movie, "Shivers," gave the public a new twist on the zombie genre. Rabid is in some ways a zombie movie, sure, but its also a disturbing tale of love and infection.

All this starts out innocently, as a couple suffers through a terrible motorcycle crash. The girl has burns on her body, so a nearby plastic surgery clinic performs a risky and new procedure on her. Which saves her life, but results in her experiencing classic Cronenberg body mutation. The fact that she has a strange probe creature thing inside which leads to her infecting others in a wanton sexual bloodlust was fairly different for 70s horror. At the time, Cronenberg was still forming his own unique style-gory, horrifying movies that challenged people's previous notions of what was shocking.

One cannot ignore the fact that they were smartly made, too. Interesting that Cronenberg's disease outbreak merely predicted fears of outbreaks later on, ones that occurred in places such as the United States and Hong Kong. Although such scares didn't involve martial law, or shooting people, of course. The body horror element found in so many other Cronenberg movies is incredibly strong here, although his version of "Typhoid Mary" is less human than the actual one that did exist.

The best moment in the film happens when an infected woman turns into a zombie, and proceeds to attack a man on a crowded subway. Its a frightening moment, well executed, and an example of how to capture panic and fear onscreen. Despite its low budget limitations, and some week acting (Marylin Chambers though is really great in this), Rabid is a freaky and unreal depiction of a rather serious disease outbreak.

In some ways its inspired by Romero's lesser 1973 film The Crazies, but works in a less apocalyptic fashion, and is also more scarier. Since it further aided in the development of Cronenberg's career, and can be attributed to the expanding of his style of film making, this movie is rather notable. It also happens to still be one his best films. 92

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