(1977)2.5Brian J. DillardAlthough it's less methodical and assured than either 1975's Shivers or 1979's The Brood, this early David Cronenberg effort features some of the director's most visceral images and plenty of creepy urban alienation. From an opening sequence involving an auto accident caused by a family of clueless tourists to the scenes of Rose hitchhiking Canada's highways, infecting truck drivers with her phallic extremity, Rabid adds the open road to Cronenberg's existing visual vocabulary of frosty architecture, empty hallways, and chic, modern women. Throw in the wry humor of the Keloid clinic's well-heeled cosmetic-surgery patients and the vulgar particularities of Rose's mutation and you've got a film whose visual style pops in all the right places. Unfortunately, Rabid's story line traces a more familiar horror flick arc than some of Cronenberg's more inspired features. The final scenes of martial law and social cauterization provide a convincing climax that recalls Night of the Living Dead, but too much of what goes before seems rote and predictable. Marilyn Chambers achieves the right mixture of predation and vulnerability in what remains her most effective non-porn acting role to date. The confused denial and crushing realization that dance across Rose's face give Chambers' scenes the emotional power that the rest of Rabid lacks.