Saturday, 23 January 2010

Rabid - DVD - 23/1/10

David Cronenberg makes films that people are forced to recognise but which then divide the audience into two seperate and equally virulent camps; people who abhor his films and their philosophy and those who adore his films and their philosophy.

I fall into the adore camp.

"Videodrome" was one of the first films I can remember that made me realise that their was more to film than Hollywood. It may even have been the first film I saw that wasn't a mainstream, major studio production. It changed me and introduced me to a whole new artistic world.

So, thanks for that to David.

Despite that I had never seen "Rabid" which, for genuine Cronenberg disciples, is tantamount to blasphemy. I apologise.

Following on from "Crimes of the Future" and "Shivers" (as well as a lot of television work) "Rabid" features many of the themes that we now most commonly associate with his work; disease, distortion, mutilation, sex, lust, body image and parasites. Here all of those manifest themselves in the character of Rose (played by porn star Marilyn Chambers) who, following a motorbike accident, is taken to the Keloid Institute for a revolutionary new form of plastic surgery that leads to her body evolving in a very surprising manner.

Rose develops a small, blood sucking, phallus in her armpit which controls her basic desires, most especially her desire for food...which is now only blood. Her body rejects everything other than human blood and has the added bonus of ensuring that those she has fed on develop a new disease which leaves them with their own murderous blood lust.

At only 34 years old Cronenberg took this unlikely set of circumstances and delivered a genuinely shocking and, still, frightening horror film. It is also a serious film and one that makes light of an, obviously, limited budget. At around the same age Wes Craven was delivering video nasty "The Last House on the Left" which was filled with childish and, frankly, irrelevant comic "relief".

Next up for Cronenberg would be a series of films that continued to develop his vision as a film-maker and forging his reputation as a director who could bring vivid, shocking and brilliant films to the screen without sacrificing that vision. "Brood", "Scanners", "The Fly", "The Dead Zone" and "Videodrome" are all genre classics and are all impossible to imagine having been made by anyone else. He is a visionary and a genuine great.

"Rabid" is a fascinating look at the genesis of one of the great film-makers of modern times.

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