Cast and Crew: Ivan Reitman (Music Supervisor)
What It’s About: Hart Read (Frank Moore) gets into an accident while riding his motorcycle with his girlfriend Rose (Marilyn Chambers). (Un)fortunately, the crash is near a state of the art plastic surgery hospital, and its head, Dr. Keloid (Howard Ryshpan), decides to treat Rose, who is badly burned. Since David Cronenberg (oh he of body and sexual horror) wrote and directed the film, the treatment results in Rose growing a new, retractable, penis-like organ under her armpit that sucks blood from her victims. The victims awake not remembering the attack (vampire-like) and quickly get a rabies-like plague (like lesser vampires in some myths, they become insane flesh eaters) and attack others.
Because Canadians are more efficient than Americans (or maybe this is just the difference between the Romeroverse and the Cronenverse) instead of politicizing the problem and bickering while the rabids destroy civilization (except for a small group of survivors holed up in a mall/government installation/Pittsburgh), the government responds quickly, decisively, and brutally, while Frank searches for his girlfriend in the chaos, not realizing she’s Patient Zero.
Why Watch it Today?: Today is World Rabies Day, the awareness day with information about how rabies is spread, the dangers it poses and how it can be prevented (hint: it’s not generally spread from armpit genitalia installed by mad plastic surgeons). So click on the link and learn a little about rabies, then settle in with Cronenberg’s interesting but flawed second feature, which prefigures 28 Days Later and has Cronenberg’s trademark, uncomfortable body horror.
Where to Get It: Netflix (rental), Amazon
“Because Canadians are more efficient than Americans…the government responds quickly, decisively, and brutally…”
Suits me right for not doing my research! That being said, you gotta love a zombie-ish movie where the government response is to send out garbage trucks with sharp shooters on top trailed by dudes to toss the bodies into the truck.
Too bad there’s no World Aphrodisiac Parasite Day, or this could run on a double bill with its slightly older brother, Shivers (a.k.a. They Came From Within) which I always preferred for stylistic reasons. 28 Days Later, hell; this thing (and Shivers) beat Dawn of the Dead to the punch, and with it the whole of modern zombie-dom…outside a few low budget gems.
I might need to watch Shivers again; I really didn’t love it the first time around, though it was interesting to see Cronenberg setting things up. I’m not sure I’d say this exactly bear Romero to the punch…I think it’s more of a continuum, certainly you should count both Night and The Crazies in there somewhere. I think I thought of 28 Days Later because the Rabid victims aren’t dead, they’re living, and merely infected with a very bad, infectious virus….and quite nimble. You don’t think Night is modern zombie?
I suppose there must be some kind of “World Orgy Day” or “World Nymphomania Awareness Day” or even “World Parasite Day”….