Rabid (1977)

rabid poster 1977 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Early Cronenberg is fun Cronenberg

Feels redundant to Shivers, not for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Rabid

Studio:  Cinepix Film Properties Inc.

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  April 8, 1977

MPAA Rating:  R

rabid marilyn chambers porn theater

Can’t a STD rabies infected woman go see a porn movie in peace?

A motorcycle accident injures Hart (Frank Moore) and mortally wounds Rose (Marilyn Chambers) on a quiet countryside road.  When a plastic surgery center uses an experimental technology to save Rose, they accidentally create a monster.  Rose is a carrier for a sexually transmitted form of rabies that is passed on through a stinger which emerges from her armpit.  The rabies is spreading rapidly and doctors are fighting to contain it…but Rose has an insatiable hunger that can’t be quenched!

Written and directed by David Cronenberg, Rabid is a low-budget horror thriller.  Following Cronenberg’s Shivers in 1975, the film was executively produced by Ivan Reitman.  Like many of Cronenberg’s films, the movie  gained a cult following over the years.

I love Cronenberg and especially love early Cronenberg.  They are dirty and have that guerilla look of films that do not have huge budgets…but have that gritty ’70s feel that make them even more horrific.  Rabid is a prime example of early Cronenberg and carries a lot of Cronenberg’s classic traits.

rabid rabies cronenberg

He promised he had punch and pie!!!

Cronenberg always has a dirty sexual feel to his films.  Rabid is almost an expansion of his first major film Shivers which featured a sexually transmitted disease in a yuppie apartment community.  That film is contained and like a reverse Night of the Living DeadRabid is almost the flipside of Shivers  and shows what happens when a virus like that gets out into the standard population.  It is particularly horrific in the age of COVID and also has similarities to Romero’s early film The Crazies.

The movie is largely driven by the fact that Cronenberg cast porn star Marilyn Chambers.  Chambers was known for starring in the porn chic Behind the Green Door in 1972.  Despite her salacious past, there is something wholesome and tragic that Chamber’s brings to the character.  She doesn’t quite nail the split personality of the role, but she is close (especially in her final scene).  Cronenberg originally wanted Sissy Spacek for the role, but Marilyn Chambers was suggested by Ivan Reitman to bring her sexuality to the role.

rabid attack armpit marilyn chambers

Is that a stinger penis in your armpit or are you just happy to see me?

The movie feels a bit pornographic in its nature.  The style of shooting, sets, and film quality have griminess to them.  Chambers does ooze sexuality in her scenes and that helps add to the porn-esque feel of the film…it is a fun, different style than some of the horror films you might experience.

If you haven’t looked at any early Cronenberg, I do recommend it.  It isn’t for everyone.  With its extreme nature and dark content, Rabid is still edgy today.  Cronenberg definitely has a style, and he began developing it early.  You will see lots of Cronenberg in Rabid.  If you are a Cronenberg fan, it is fun to see how he evolved from films like this into critically acclaimed movies like Eastern Promises and A History of Violence.  Cronenberg followed Rabid with the comedy Fast Company in 1979.  Rabid was remade in 2019.

Related Links:

Rabid (2019)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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