101 Films have brought out David Cronenberg's second feature-length body horror picture on Blu-ray in a new edition that features a host of new special features.
When Rose (Marilyn Chambers) is injured in a motorcycle accident her only chance for surviving lies with the only nearby hospital. Unfortunately it's the David Cronenberg Keloid Plastic Surgery Clinic for Wildly New and Untested Techniques That Could Prove Disastrous. Rose's intestines have been mangled by the motorbike and skin grafts are taken from her thighs, denatured and implanted within her in an attempt to encourage them to grow as new bowel tissue. None of this is very obvious, by the way, and even on the commentary it's not clear but in numerous interviews with Cronenberg he has stated this was the intention. Unfortunately the denatured tissue decides to do its own thing and causes a blood sucking proboscis (the original title was MOSQUITO) to develop in Rose's armpit. Rose becomes a science-fiction vampire. All she can eat is blood, and her activities cause the unwanted side effect of the spreading of a virulent form of rabies. She escapes the clinic, hitchhikes to Montreal, and the scene is set for a plague scenario that expands upon Cronenberg's previous SHIVERS.
Maybe I'm getting old, but RABID really doesn't feel that dated. Of course the clothes and hairstyles are period mid 1970s, but Cronenberg's approach to the science gives it a timelessness that means RABID is still a very worthwhile viewing experience. It's also a grim and humourless one, and it's a testament to Cronenberg's skills that a scene in which Dr Keloid looks at porn star Marilyn Chambers' breasts and says 'The grafts appear to have healed well' isn't in the slightest bit funny. Even now, after VIDEODROME, CRASH and other assaults on the senses, RABID still boasts arguably the most depressing and heart-breaking ending of any Cronenberg film. If you've seen it you know what I mean, and if you haven't why are you reading this when you could be watching this unique classic of science fiction-horror?
RABID was previously released on Blu-ray four years ago by Arrow Films. That edition is now out of print with copies going for the usual silly money online. But worry not because you have no need of that edition now there's the new 101 Films package. New to this are a feature length commentary track from the Soska sisters (whose remake of the film just premiered at Frightfest). There's also a feature-length documentary on Canadian horror cinema from Xavier Mendik, plus a new booklet.
Carried over from the previous Arrow edition are two commentary tracks. The first is from David Cronenberg who neither introduces himself nor gives us much idea when this is from, but I'm guessing it's the commentary from the previous US region 1 release. The track is what you might expect from Cronenberg, and it's actually rather pleasing to see how seriously he still considers the film. There's also a separate commentary from William Beard, author of The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg. There's also the archive interview with Cronenberg and interviews with producer Ivan Reitman and co-producer Don Carmody. You also get the 1999 episode of The Directors TV series that concentrated on Cronenberg and featuring interview with Holly Hunter, Marilyn Chambers and others.
Extra to the Arrow version is a commentary track from author Jill Nelson and Marilyn Chambers 'personal appearance manager' Ken Leicht, as well as an interview with RABID actress Susan Roman.
The first 3000 copies of this new 2K scan come with a slipcase and the booklet. An excellent package.
David Cronenberg's RABID is out on Blu-ray in a 2 Disc set from 101 Films now