RABID (1977) Reviews and overview

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‘Pray it doesn’t happen to you’

Rabid is a 1977 Canadian horror feature film written and directed by David Cronenberg (Shivers; Videodrome; The Fly). The movie stars Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Howard Ryshpan, Joe Silver, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman and Robert A. Silverman.

Cronenberg had wanted to cast Sissy Spacek in the film lead but the backers vetoed his choice because of her accent. Spacek’s film Carrie was released during this film’s production and proved to be a massive hit (and a movie poster for the film appears when the main character walks past a cinema). The director says that the idea of casting Marilyn Chambers came from executive producer Ivan Reitman (Cannibal Girls, Ghostbusters), who had heard that she was looking for a mainstream role.


Chambers plays a woman who, after being injured in a motorcycle accident and undergoing a surgical operation, develops an orifice under one of her armpits. The orifice hides a stinger that she uses to feed on people’s blood. Those she feeds upon become rabid zombies, whose bite spreads the disease…


” … a film full of shocks as Cronenberg twists his supple narrative first this way then that in a surprisingly playful fashion. But if Rabid is a better-made film than The Parasite Murders (aka Shivers), it is also a far safer film.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction 

“The Canadian location is paramount since the threat posed in Rabid is most effective in a society with a concentrated governmental control of services. Rabid proposes a broad examination of the cautions of state control, and the personalization of the Rose character forces us to care. It is an effective film, biting, clever, dark, timely and ultimately Canadian’. Canuxsploitation

“The infection aspect of the film, which was borrowed from heavily in 28 Days Later, is highly effective. The body count mounts high from either blood devouring or flesh-munching. There’s shades of Dawn of the Dead as the frothing zombies terrorize a shopping mall, at Christmas time no less. It all amounts to an intense, claustrophobic feel…” Oh, the Horror!

“The first half of Rabid is by far the most effective, with its secluded hospital, simple music cues, and almost lackadaisical buildup to the eventual horror.” Daily Grindhouse

“The violence is not overly graphic but it is certainly memorable. Great practical effects, violence and a heaping helping of intensity all combine to make Rabid a perfect work of genre filmmaking.” Goregirl’s Dungeon

Offline reading:

Cronenberg on Cronenberg edited by Chris Rodley, Faber & Faber, 1996 – Buy: Amazon.co.uk



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Main cast and credits:

  • Marilyn Chambers … Rose
  • Frank Moore … Hart Read
  • Joe Silver … Murray Cypher
  • Howard Ryshpan … Doctor Dan Keloid
  • Patricia Gage … Doctor Roxanne Keloid
  • Susan Roman … Mindy Kent
  • Roger Periard … Lloyd Walsh
  • Lynne Deragon … Nurse Louise
  • Terry Schonblum … Judy Glasberg
  • Victor Désy … Claude LaPointe
  • Julie Anna … Nurse Rita
  • Gary McKeehan … Smooth Eddy
  • Terence G. Ross … Farmer
  • Miguel Fernandes … Man In Cinema
  • Robert O’Ree … Police Sergeant
  • Greg Van Riel … Young Man In Plaza
  • Jérôme Tiberghien … Doctor Karl
  • Allan Moyle … Young Man In Lobby
  • Richard W. Farrell … Camper Man
  • Jeannette Casenave … Camper Lady
  • Karl Wasserman … Camper Child
  • John Boylan … Young Cop In Plaza
  • Malcolm Nelthorpe … Older Cop In Plaza
  • Vlasta Vrana … Cop At Clinic
  • Kirk McColl … Desk Sergeant
  • Jack Messinger … Policeman On Highway
  • Yvon Lecompte … Policeman

Other releases:
On November 2, 2016, Rabid was released as a Blu-ray Collector’s Edition in North America by Scream Factory.

New High Definition Digital Transfer

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature

Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

Audio Commentary with writer-director David Cronenberg

Audio Commentary with William Beard, author of The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg

Archive interview with David Cronenberg

Brand new interview with executive producer Ivan Reitman

Brand new interview with co-producer Don Carmody

Make-up Memories: Joe Blasco Remembers Rabid – A short featurette in which Blasco recalls how the film’s various gruesome effects were achieved

Raw, Rough and Rabid: The Lacerating Legacy of Cinépix – Featurette looking back at the early years of the celebrated Canadian production company, including interviews with author Kier-La Janisse and special makeup artist Joe Blasco

The Directors: David Cronenberg – A 1999 documentary on the filmmaker, containing interviews with Cronenberg, Marilyn Chambers, Deborah Harry, Michael Ironside, Peter Weller and others

Original Theatrical Trailer

Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kier-La Janisse, reprinted excerpts of Cronenberg on Cronenberg and more, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.


Buy Rabid on Arrow Blu-ray + DVD from Amazon.co.uk

Image credits: Goregirl’s Dungeon and Daily Grindhouse for some images above

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