Written by Matthew Martens
Here’s a film all but made for midnight, or @fter Midnite, courtesy of the Coolidge:
Once and future porn star (and former Ivory Snow-ad icon of purity) Marilyn Chambers plays first victim and chief agent of a ferocious sexual contagion after a motorcycle accident kills her husband, rips up her body, and lands her, with deceptive fortuity, in a facility dedicated to experimental cosmetic surgery, where she’s patched up to apparent perfection thanks to a skin graft of mysterious provenance. The operation’s seeming success is short-lived, however — soon enough the patient is both irrepressibly horny and balefully equipped with a phallic armpit proboscis. Encountering little difficulty finding willing bedmates, she unleashes the lust-zombie plague we spend the rest of the film tracking.
In this follow-up to his first feature, 1975’s Shivers (aka They Came From Within), noted Canadian pervert-auteur David Cronenberg further developed and arguably perfected his early style, a kind of art-pulp cinema in which sin, skin, sex and science were messily combined to produce hair-raising, stomach-churning morality tales set in the catastrophic wake of the sexual revolution’s lunge for instant liberation.
For Cronenberg, old flesh or new, bio always equals hazard. And as every student of mad science (fictional or otherwise) knows, whether the dilemma is disease, injury, or just the persistent itch to enhance the human contraption or condition, mankind’s efforts at amelioration or self-improvement often haunt us with their unintended consequences. In some cases they terrorize us. In Rabid they fuck us senseless. Bon appetit.