Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 16th, 2015
BluRay released: February 16th, 2015
Approximate running times: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
Synopsis: The only hope of saving a woman that has narrowly survived a devastation motorcycle crash is an experimental plastic surgery. Will she make a full recovery or will there be side effects due to the surgery?
Though Cronenberg’s debut film Shivers was very successful at the box office. It was also a film that garnered quite of bit of controversy and because of this it would be two years before he would make his follow up film Rabid.
At the time of this film’s release the casting of Marilyn Chambers (Behind the Green Door, Resurrection of Eve) may have seemed like an odd choice, considering he background in acting was limited to a few a pornographic films. Fortunately time often can be kind and that decision to hire her as this film’s protagonist looks like an inspired choice. And it is her lack of acting experience which ultimately makes her performance so mesmerizing. Unfortunately when it comes to the rest of the cast their performances are best described as adequate.
Content wise, though Rabid contains many of the themes that Cronenberg had explored in Shivers. The way in which they are presented is how these two films slightly differ. Where Rabid is given a much grander canvass to work from, Shivers was a more self-contained film that primary took place in one location. This is not simply a case of more equal betters as Rabid is lacking the overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia that made Shivers utterly terrifying.
With that being said, though there are elements in Rabid that don’t gel as well as they did in Shivers. That is not to say that there is not plenty to admire about Rabid. With one of the more fascinating aspects of this film is how Cronenberg mutates the vampire mythos to suit his cinematic universe. And without a doubt this most fascinating aspect of this film is how Cronenberg uses the distance between characters to drive the mood of the film, especially in regards to the protagonist and her boyfriend.
This film’s most potent moment involves these two character’s as the protagonist calls her boyfriend to let him know that she has looked herself in a room with an infected person. She is doing this to prove to him that she was not the cause of the outbreak. And as this scene slowly builds the tension builds to a fever pitch as the once confident protagonist shows fear in her voice as her demise closes in on her.
Rabid comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This transfer does a superb job retaining the intended look of the film, colors look accurate, and flesh tones look healthy. Black look consistently strong throughout and the image look crisp. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR of compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have also been included. There are no issues with background noise or distortion. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and range wise the ambient noises and the score are well represented.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 10 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen), interviews with executive producer Ivan Reitman (12 minutes 29 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen), co-producer Don Carmody (15 minutes 37 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen), special effects Joe Blasco (3 minutes 11 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen), archive interview with screenwriter / director David Cronenberg (20 minutes 35 seconds – 1080 progressive), a featurette titled ‘Raw, Rough and Rabid: The Lacerating Legacy of Cinépix’ (15 minutes 4 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen), a documentary from 1999 titled ‘The Directors: David Cronenberg’ (59 minutes 4 seconds – 1080 progressive) and two audio commentaries, the first one with David Cronenberg and the second one with William Beard, author of The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg.
Topics discussed in the interview with Ivan Reitman include, his thoughts on Shivers and Rabid, David Cronenberg’s legacy as a filmmaker, his early days as a filmmaker and how he originally wanted to be a film composer, the films that he worked on for Cinépix and how he assembled scores for the film’s that Marilyn Chambers, a proposed film adaption of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with Cronenberg that did not happen and his thoughts on what is what to work in the Canadian film industry in the 1970’s.
Topics discussed in the interview with Don Carmody include, he how got into film production and working for Cinépix, Shivers and the public outcry over the film being funded by the Canadian government, how a few weeks into the production of Rabid that Cronenberg showed him a early draft of what would become Dead Ringers, casting Marilyn Chambers, Shivers and Rabid and his thoughts about them and working with Cronenberg and what he has been up to since his days working at Cinépix.
Topics discussed in the interview with David Cronenberg include, the Canadian governments reaction to Shivers, Rabid and the casting of an adult film star Marilyn Chambers, how he had a larger canvas to work with for Rabid, working with Cinépix, how he does not feel to make a film until he feels that the film is necessary, how he originally wanted Sissy Spacek for the lead role in Rabid, critics views on Shivers and Rabid.
Topics discussed in the interview with Joe Blasco includes, sexuality in Cronenberg’s films and the special effects that he created for Rabid. The documentary titled ‘The Directors: David Cronenberg’ is a career overview that covers all of his films up to eXistenZ.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with David Cronenberg include, how casting Marilyn Chambers was Ivan Reitman’s idea, his thoughts on her performance, he talks about what scenes he feels should have been cut from the film, how several of films has anticipated technology, medical advances and sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS, the cast, shooting low budget Horror films and how he maximized his limited resources, locations and his thoughts on the final scene. Overall this is an exceptional audio commentary as Cronenberg is very generous in his reflections about his films.
Content wise the audio commentary with William Beard is an insightful analytical track that dissects and puts into context what is occurring onscreen.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and forty two page booklet with cast & crew credits, an essay titled ‘Plastic Surgery Disaster: Rabid, the October Crisis and the Pathological Body Politic’ written by Kier-La Janisse, an extract from Cronenberg on Cronenberg titled ‘A Biologically Correct Vampiress’ written by David Cronenberg, an interview with Marilyn Chambers and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Rabid gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.