With "Shivers", David Cronenberg set new standards of yuk with his nasty slug-cum-maggots that turn the occupants of an exclusive apartment block into horny zombies. To top this was never going to be easy but two years later he was again turning his stars into the depraved living dead with equally nauseating effect in "Rabid".
The postage stamp plot allows us to wade straight into the gore with porno favourite Marilyn Chambers the victim of a motorcycle crash. As luck would have it she spins out of control near the Keloid Institute that specialises in plastic surgery. They whisk her frazzled body into an operating theatre and decide to experiment on her by grafting their new 'morphologically neutral' skin onto her burns.
While its cosmetic appearance seems to be satisfactory, it soon becomes clear that it's affecting her brain as she ravages a young doctor in a height of sexual bloodlust. Key to her depraved vampire-like instinct is a nasty growth in her armpit that is as blatantly sexual as the slugs in "Shivers".
Pretty soon she's escaped the Keloid Institue (Keloid being the medical term for a nasty overgrowth of scar tissue) and she's getting a ride into the big city. After devouring a lorry driver, our hitchhiking parasitic tramp is soon spreading her disease to every rain-coated individual she can find causing maximum chaos as society disintegrates in an orgy of depravity.
The theme of sexual fervour spreading and causing the downfall of civilisation is clearly close to Cronenberg's heart and it lends a fascinating quality to his sometimes otherwise repellent films. Ultimately "Rabid" boils down to zombified sluts and shock moments but it's an irresistible combination that Cronenberg handles well.
Read a review of the DVD.