Friday, December 28, 2012

Rabid (1977)

keloid /ke·loid/ (ke´loid)
a sharply elevated, irregularly shaped, progressively enlarging scar due to excessive collagen formation in the dermis during connective tissue repair.

Following up my essay on the architecture of Cronenberg's Shivers, it's fitting I continue with his second film of body horror, Rabid. I enjoyed recognizing some stars from Shivers returning to the screen. In fact, Shivers and Rabid create a pleasant multiverse alternative timeline ot the fall of Montreal by zombie-like transformed humans. And yet Cronenberg does not trap himself within the confines of the zombie genre. My few comments on Rabid will consider the physiological message emerging from Keloid Clinic.

As a plastic surgery clinic, they seek to make external appearance beautiful. The examination room has a poster of da Vinci's Vitruvian Man on the wall. The use of these "neutral cells" (read as stem cells) to recreate the proper texture of flesh show. I caught a phrase from a magazine in the waiting lounge, "the truth about skin care" that seems to be a late warning about this fixation on the external. Ironically, a keloid does form and these aesteticians cause internal changes they cannot begin to comprehend.

The motif of external to internal leads to support the perhaps obvious conclusion that Rabid is a film of penetration. The protagonist's armpit penis, the use of needles to immunize, feed, and sedate, the drill that penetrates the health minister's car, and most importantly, biting, the vector for infection. The doctors of the clinic gave a female a phallus, perhaps they only imagine true beauty in the shape of a man?

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