A young woman develops a taste for human blood after undergoing experimental plastic surgery, and her victims turn into rabid, blood-thirsty zombies who proceed to infect others, which turns into a city-wide epidemic.
Rarely is an ex-adult film star ever seen in a normal role. Typically this is primarily due to lack of acting ability and being pigeon holed in the genre. However, occasionally one does breakout and explore alternatives, which Marilyn Chambers does in Rabid. And, while playing the lead role of Rose in this cheesy 1977 faint zombie flick knockoff, she is surprisingly just adequate. Not because she is a terrible actress, but because of less than stellar writing. None-the-less, it is quite clear that, if given the opportunity, she could have excelled into something more than a sexpot.
The film begins with a couple on a motorcycle zipping along on a windy two-lane highway. Both the score, as well as the camera shots (one specifically from the side of the bike as the driver uses his foot to change gears) imply that something horrible is about to happen. And, it does as a lost family in a van attempt to make a u-turn on the highway causing the crash.
Rose, the passenger on the motorcycle, is trapped under it and hurt badly. Fortunately, there is a medical facility nearby and the crash victims are retrieved and attended to. While the driver, (a no name who obviously is playing the role of Rose’s boyfriend), escaped with minor injuries, Rose will require plastic surgery to restore her breasts (yes, I said breasts) to their former glory. An experimental treatment is successfully performed. However, this treatment has a not fully explained as to why, unknown side effect. It forces her to desire consuming only blood and her rampage begins.
However, the film does little to show how her first few victims are actually killed, only showing her clutching tightly to them, arms wrapped around in a cross between eroticism and horror, and it is rather confusing.
But, later on in the film we have the opportunity to see how this all occurred. Her armpit now has a leeching and prodding fleshy pointed straw, which she uses to impale her victims and suck out their blood. What is left it a disease that renders the victim into a mindless zombie that, in turn, attacks the living. Basically, Rose has become a Typhoid Mary of sorts, immune to any of the zombie effects and single handedly causing a citywide plague.
Of course this all sounds gruesome and some of the special effects are better than others, especially when we finally get to see the throbbing hole that harbors the prong. But, the film, directed by David Cronenberg, lacks consistency when gore is concerned and it is not as effective as it very well could have been. Opportunities knocked throughout the whole film, but simply were not taken advantage of, and while this certainly had the potential to be a good zombie flick, at the time of the film’s release, the audience would have to wait until Romero’s second masterpiece, Dawn of the Dead, the following year to fully envision this concept.
As far as score is concerned, it is better than average and accurately envelops the film. The script, while at times somewhat humorous, was methodical and mostly believable. This viewer’s only request would have been that the star of the show could have been much more darker and wicked. Who knows? Maybe it was Marilyn herself whom, after years of sensual love scenes, found it difficult to portray an evil character, always seeming to maintain that constant slight grin of hers.
While Rabid isn’t what one would call a terrible flick, it isn’t what one would refer to as a blockbuster either. Lying somewhere in between, probably nearer to the lower portion of the scale, this movie is still worth a look and is far considerably better than some of it’s era counterparts.