The 2000’s film industry so far seems to be flushed with remakes—many of which fail to deliver on original takes or decent storylines. People might argue that most of the remakes never needed to be made at all, as the originals were virtually flawless to begin with. Rabid (1977) was not one of those flawless films.
Rabid (1977) is about a woman named Rose (Marilyn Chambers) who gets into a disfiguring motorcycle accident and receives experimental plastic surgery with a pretty intense side effect of blood lust. The flaw is that the focus should be on how this virus affects the innocent victim, Rose, but we are instead mostly given the reactions of her self-absorbed boyfriend, Hart (Frank Moore), who is made out to be a hero.
Now, more than 40 years later, the Soska Sisters, writers and directors of American Mary, come along and thoughtfully tell the story the way Rose deserves for it to be told. This time, we are shown both the positive and negative effects the surgery has on Rose’s (Laura Vandervoort) life. She becomes more confident in herself, even earning her dream job designing an outfit for a clothing line in the design firm she works for. On the flip side, we also see how Rose suffers from the hunger and her negative reactions to her new physical changes. Her love interest, Brad (Ben Hollingsworth), is finally shown for who he really is—a narcissistic womanizer with a hero complex.
Staying consistent with the Cronenberg classic, we do still see the rabies virus quickly spread throughout the community and the violence that would obviously ensue. For the Soska fans expecting blood and grotesque body horror, you will not be disappointed. In fact, you may find yourself cringing more than once before the film is over.
As a gift to the fans, the Soska Sisters pack the film with little Cronenberg Easter Eggs that are easily recognizable to regular Cronenberg watchers, but don’t take away from the film for those who are less familiar. We are also gifted with characters played by Hanneke Talbot as Rose’s best friend Chelsea–who is probably the most likable character in the film–and CM Punk as Billy, who delivers one of the funniest insults you will have heard in awhile. Then we have a character at the end, one of three roles played by Tristan Risk, who, without spoiling anything, is as beautiful as she is disturbing.
If you should take anything from this film, it is that beauty is not always a blessing. Rose spends her life surrounded by vapid, self-absorbed beautiful people, wishing she were one of them and wishing she could be loved by them, but she is the only decent one amongst them. Once she becomes beautiful, getting exactly what she has always wanted, her life turns to ruin. Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.
Is the Rabid remake perfect? It will be to some, it won’t be to others. Super fans of the original film will surely find something to complain about. To them I say, leave your expectations at the door. Appreciate the art for what it is, not what you expect it to be. Does the film hold its own for those who maybe haven’t seen the original? Absolutely. If you don’t want to take my word for it, you can take Mr. Cronenberg’s, who gave the film his personal stamp of approval.
Rabid will have a limited theatrical release at the following locations:
Arena Cinelounge- Hollywood, CA
Alamo Drafthouse, Sloans Lake- Denver, CO
Studio Movie Grill, Upper Darby- Philadelphia, PA
Studio Movie Grill, Marietta- Marietta, GA
Studio Movie Grill, Chatham- Chicago, IL
Studio Movie Grill, Spring Valley- Dallax, TX
Studio Movie Grill, Tampa- Tampa, FL
Studio Movie Grill, Pearland- Houston, TX
Emagine Canton- Detroit, MI
Tower City Cinema- Cleveland, OH
Rabid is available in limited theaters and VOD on December 13.