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‘Rabid’ Remake Will Restore the Terror of Sex

The Soska Sisters will attempt to transform the personal terrors of David Cronenberg into their own demented nightmare.
By  · Published on May 11th, 2018

The Soska Sisters will attempt to transform the personal terrors of David Cronenberg into their own demented nightmare.

The King of Venereal Horror. That’s a moniker hard to shake once saddled, and with good reason. David Cronenberg erupted on the scene with a grotesque pair of nightmares highlighting the horrors each of us has hiding inside our bodies. Shivers manifested our fear of STDs into a crawling armada of penetrating slugs. And before It Follows, Rabid weaponized sexuality into a vampiric killer hiding behind the flesh of porn star Marilyn Chambers.

While the latter film would barely be noticed during the same year that unleashed Star Wars upon the universe, Rabid cemented Cronenberg’s ownership of anatomical terror. The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead ZoneThe Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch… Hell is a warm place beating within our biology.

Deadline reports that Rabid has been tapped for the reboot treatment. Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, Jigsaw) will star as Rose, the young woman who becomes a ravenous bloodsucker after undergoing an experimental stem cell treatment. The new take will be overseen by Jen and Sylvia Soska, the directors of Dead Hooker in the Trunk and American Mary. The production is keeping things Canadian with Back 40 Pictures partnering with Telefilm Canada and Ontario Media Development Corp.

Cronenberg’s impressive string of nightmares holds a significant place in the cinematic landscape. They are born in the death of the sexual revolution and the emergence of the AIDS crisis. The pleasures of life were exposed as the catastrophic sin forewarned by Mom and Dad. The body itself is evil, how dare you live in it.

We don’t really occupy that same headspace today. AIDS is not quite the death sentence it once was. Science and education have eased our worries in some areas, allowing cancer to rise as the great biological boogeyman. The ticking time bomb of existence is impossible to defuse.

Where would the Soska Sisters take a creature like Rabid? The taboo of sex certainly remains in our culture. Nipples are treated as more hazardous to your health than zombie flesh eating. Must-see TV is deadly serious with their no shirts, no shoes, no business mentality. There is still a take for Rose as a predatory prowler of the night, the aggressive vampire eager to leach off the excitable innocent.

The original film managed to find sympathy for the uncontrollable hunger, but that could skew horrendously against the current cultural climate. I’m not interested in sex as a threat from within. Sex as an outside antagonist seems more 2018.

Looking to the Soska Sisters’ segment in The ABCs of Death 2 might give us a clue as to how their point of view on Rabid would shift from Cronenberg. “T is for Torture Porn” opens on a group of psychotic filmmakers preparing a snuff film starring Tristan Risk. As the men strip Risk down, they suddenly discover what they think is a penis. Not so fast. Instead, Risk unfurls a series of tentacles from her vagina and rips the filmmakers to shreds.

A few alterations and “T is for Torture Porn” actually bears a shocking resemblance to the method of attack in Rabid. It’s a hydra-like take on Marilyn Chambers’s phallic armpit stinger. Now imagine if the Soska Sisters applied that sense of karmic vengeance to their screenplay. The 21st Century Rabid begins to make a little more sense.

Cronenberg is a filmmaker who ghoulishly dissected his psyche for the pleasure/repulsion of his audience. Watching his films is akin to sitting next to him on the psychiatrist couch. The experience is a vulnerable one, and the shock comes when you find yourself suddenly partaking in the therapy. These fears and perversions are yours as well.

Remaking a film so glued to another filmmaker’s subconscious is a tricky endeavor. The Soska Sisters are up for the challenge. Their success will be determined by how much of themselves they can infuse into their Rabid.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)