Retro Reviews

Rabid – A Zombie Movie Ahead Of Its Time

A hidden gem among the gore filled zombie films of the 1970's, Rabid is must watch for any zombie fan...

Rabid (1977)

Watch Rabid Online Now

I have an affinity for Piranha (1978). Not because it’s a distinguished vision committed to celluloid, but because it was one of the now-legendary director James Cameron’s early forays into creative writing.  I can’t watch every zombie movie that I happen upon. Yet, when I saw that Rabid had young iterations of Ivan Reitman and David Cronenberg attached to it, I knew this was one horror film I couldn’t pass up.

Any critic would be hard pressed to call this anything other than a ‘…of the Dead‘ film. Blending a clever patient-zero storyline with General Hospital television sensibilities, Rabid delivers a solid cinematic experience. The place of zombies is subjugated by blood thirsty homicidal maniacs and all the normative motifs of the genre are satisfied. A gory good time ensues, complete with witty one-liners, a few well-timed jump scares, and the obligatory topless females.

Rabid (1977)
An iconic scene from David Cronenberg’s 1977 “zombie” film Rabid.  An infected woman, enraged with blood lust,  turns on her fellow passengers.

Too much of a good thing

Given the production date of 1977, Rabid still holds up well and delivers a punch. The reason is, quality storytelling from a fledgling Cronenberg. However, one complaint I have is that the kill scenes start to feel labored. They become repetitive, and the movie sags in the middle. Also, as the spread of the infection gradually makes its way across Montreal, TV news reports are relied upon heavy handily for exposition. But once the city is under full martial law, the third act picks up steam.

Sex appeal in Rabid

Marilyn Chambers shines as the sultry infected woman in the film. Certain scenes include nudity that doesn’t feel sexy at all, i.e. while she is recovering in hospital after a horrible accident. As Rabid progresses, that tone changes and she begins to wield her alluring demeanor, attracting victims to the slaughter. There is even a hot tub scene underscored with strong lesbian tones, prior to a ‘blood bath’. Pun intended. If there was ever to be a major studio remake of Rabid, the amount of sex and nudity may need to be dialed back for modern audiences.

Rabid, Marilyn Chambers
Marilyn Chambers plays Rose in the 1977 ‘zombie’ film Rabid.

FFO of The Walking Dead

If you enjoy any of the current zombie trends, Rabid is the throwback movie for you. It is refreshing to watch a zombie movie from a time period when they hadn’t been so exhausted.   The genre was yet to be explored as thoroughly as it is in 2018, and Rabid exemplifies the cavalier spirit of budding filmmakers. DIY attitude and creative spirit triumphs lack of budget in this campy, gory, sexy and sometimes scary movie.


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