RABID Redux: Making The Case For Remaking Cronenberg

The Soska Sisters say they've got a worthwhile take on the original.

“Why don’t they remake BAD movies?”

How often have you heard that chestnut? The answer is obvious: bad movies, being bad and all, tend to not develop the audience required for remakes of them to make a ton of fiscal sense.

Occasionally it happens, though. You’ll get a flawed work that is elevated over time to “classic” status, sometimes on nothing more than the strength of its central premise. When this happens it creates that sweet spot where, yes, a film that wasn’t all that great in the first place can be remade for an audience that will respond to the brand. And if the filmmaker is doing their job, you can get a remake that not only justifies its existence, but tops the original. This happened with Chuck Russell’s The Blob, it happened with Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven, and it happened with David Cronenberg’s The Fly.

Which brings us to today’s news item, in which the Soska Sisters drop some info about their planned remake of Cronenberg’s 1977 film Rabid. For the kids: Rabid told the story of a woman (Marilyn Chambers) who undergoes experimental surgery to save her life following a traffic accident. The surgery causes a phallic, barbed growth to grow from her armpit, through which she satiates a newfound thirst for blood. Her condition is also wildly infectious, setting off a plague of bloodthirsty maniacs in Montreal.

Now, I have a lot of affection for Cronenberg’s follow-up to Shivers, I own the Arrow Blu-ray Steelbook, do not @ me, but it’s not one of the maestro’s masterworks. It lacks the primal precision of Shivers and it falls short of his subsequent genre effort, which was a legitimate masterpiece (The Brood). It’s as ripe a Cronenberg film there is for remakin’.

And today the Soska Sisters have some interesting things to say about their planned version. According to Sylvia Soska:

“Normally, I’m not a huge fan of remakes but that’s if they don’t have anything new to bring to the story. We have a unique perspective just because of who we are to tell the story from Rose’s eyes as well as make a commentary on the increasingly rabid world that we live in.

Rabid told from the female point of view is not an idea without merit. Cronenberg is a genius, but his early films were a little male gaze-y, fam. Shit, he cast (and disrobed) Lynn Lowry in Shivers after seeing her play a Lolita-ish daughter in The Crazies. His films were heady and smart, but the man took to ‘70s exploitation like a randy duck to pervy water.

But even more intriguing to me is the idea of remaking Rabid with an eye toward “the increasingly rabid world we live in.” Everyone is clamoring for the Bond franchise to take on Trump and Brexit, but I’ll be damned if I don’t want to see what a pair of body horror-obsessed Canadians have to say about the ugly state of the world circa 2017.