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Porn star Marilyn Chambers stars in David Cronenberg's second feature as a young Quebec woman who undergoes an experimental plastic surgery treatment that transforms her into a blood-lusting, sexually insatiable disease-spreader.
Building on the succès de scandale of Shivers, Cronenberg controversially cast porn star Marilyn Chambers (Behind the Green Door) as the star of his sophomore feature, as a beautiful young Quebec woman named Rose who is critically injured in a motorcycle accident. Following an experimental skin-grafting procedure at the Keloid Clinic of Cosmetic Surgery, Rose emerges miraculously restored to her former beauty — with the unfortunate side effects of a phallic stinger that has emerged from an orifice in her armpit, and an insatiable bloodlust which turns her victims into rabid, homicidal disease-spreaders. Containing some of Cronenberg's rawest and most disturbing imagery — as well as an apocalyptic echo of Pierre Trudeau's 1970 invocation of martial law during the FLQ crisis — Rabid disturbingly develops the filmmaker's taboo-busting linking of sexuality and contagion, taking the body from object of desire to site of disease to (in the powerful final shot) detritus to be disposed of.