Blu-ray Review: Rabid

David Cronenberg’s Rabid was revolutionary for its time in 1977. Not merely for being a disturbing horror movie that mixed sex, violence and infection. Cronenberg had cast adult film superstar Marilyn Chambers (Behind the Green Door). This turned out to be great casting since she able to infect so many people in Montreal in seductive ways. But we also didn’t know much about her character since she ended up at the revolutionary medical clinic without doing much besides riding around the Canadian countryside before a motorcycle crash. While it was one of my favorite films, I was not one of those people screaming bloody murder on Twitter when Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska announced they’d be remaking the film. Nearly every horror film that people screamed at the ’70s and ’80s has been remade. What mattered most to me was that Soska Sister would bring their own twisted perspective to core elements of the film and not pull a shot-by-shot remake like Gus Van Sant Psycho Or uses the famous film title to make a movie that has nothing to do with the original. The Toxic Twins’ Rabid foams at the mouth without making you feel like you’ve seen this film before.

Rose (Jigsaw‘s Laura Vandervoort) is a meek employee at the fashionable Haus of Gunter. Instead of being a designer, she merely turns the sketches of Gunter (Smallville‘s Mackenzie Gray) into runway realities with her sewing and scissor skills. Her adopted sister Chelsea (Star Trek: Discovery‘s Hanneke Talbot) models for the Haus. Gunter likes her more than Rose who seems to barely cling to a job there. Roses wishes she could be a bit more glamorous as her. She dresses up for a big party at a nightclub only to get traumatized by overhearing the truth of her situation with a guy she likes. The upset Rose races away on her scooter. This is how she ends up getting into a grisly accident. When the doctor (Watchmen‘s Stephen McHattie) removes the bandages, Rose discovers her face is severally messed up. Will she ever be able to look slightly like her old self? She eventually finds help at a revolutionary clinic run by Dr. William Burroughs (Fugget About It‘s Ted Atherton) that’s based on the principles of Transhumanism. She gets her face fixed up so perfectly that she looks more like a model than Chelsea. This new her gets her more active in creating her own clothes instead of merely serving Gunter. She learns a lot about herself. Unfortunately she also learns that there’s a lot more to the new her including a need to get close to others and feed on them. But she doesn’t completely eat others because she needs to spread her rabid nature on those that dare to get close to her. Can she stop what’s going on with herself? Is there a cure to what cured her in the first place?

The remake of Rabid works because things don’t play out like the original. There’s more to Rose than in the original movie. Marilyn Chambers’ Rose was mostly a rear passenger on the motorcycle seat before her crash. You can feel bad when Vandervoort’s new Rose gets hit on the road. We get a bit of a storyline between her frustrating relationship with Brad (Suits‘ Ben Hollingsworth) a fashion photographer that she thought liked her only to discover the truth. We get a bit of emotion from Rose that wasn’t in the original. She battles a bit more with her rabid nature in the remake. She won’t give into certain guys such as a creep (played by wrestling legend CM Punk) who won’t take no from Rose. She doesn’t want to be an infector until she truly can’t help herself.

The film pays quite a bit of homage to the career of David Cronenberg with references to so many of his films including the way the doctor’s dress in Dead Ringers. Dr. William Burroughs is a tip of the hat to the author of The Naked Lunch film made by Cronenberg. The Soska Sisters deliver both the fun and the grotesque. When you see Rose get her face unwrapped the first time after the wreck, queasy stomachs will fight off the need to puke. The remake film sticks to the concept of the original, but goes it’s own way. Not to spoil the ending, but if you remember what happens to Marilyn Chambers’ Rose, it doesn’t happen this time. The Soska Sisters have a completely different ending that seems like something Cronenberg would do. They stayed true to the core of the movie while giving their own take on the tale of a woman that got more than she bargained for with a skin graft.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The resolution brings out the rather gross effects when Rose takes off the bandages. The audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1 that brings the creepiness around room. There’s also a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix. The movie is subtitled in English.

Audio Commentary with Soska Sister has the them explain their approach to the film. They also remind us to not do cocaine like their characters in the film. They also discuss all the Canadian elements of the film.

Behind the Scenes with Jen & Sylvia Soska (16:21) has the director’s hanging out on the street after shooting CM Punk’s window shattering scene. They are a bit nervous getting to remake a David Cronenberg film since they both love his work.

Interview with Laura Vandervoort (4:04) talks about playing Rose and going from meek woman to empowered with a twist. She talks about how she met the Soska Sisters for a different project that she was developing which led to them telling her about Rabid.

Trailer (1:47) hints that stuff won’t be going right for Rose after her miracle surgery.

Scream Factory presents Rabid. Directed by: Jen & Sylvia Soska. Screenplay by: Jen & Sylvia Soska & John Serge. Starring: Laura Vandervoort, Ben Hollingsworth, Ted Atherton, Stephen Huszar, Phil Brooks, Stephen McHattie and Hanneke Talbot. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 107 minutes. Released: February 4, 2020.

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