Throughout the film, Cronenberg packs an extraordinary cluster of Freudian imagery around the vaginal-looking parasite the parasite with its predatory drill-like clitoris can be read as all manner of metaphors for both rampant male and female sexuality; Rose comforts and caresses her victims while she is draining them as though they were lovers; while the rabid spread of the disease hearkens back to Cronenbergs monsters as metaphor for VD in Shivers. However, Cronenberg also swings the symbols so broadly, more for the sake of it than anything else, that they could mean anything and, as a result, Rabid is more diffuse and lacks the shock sting that Shivers had. For all the complexity of the idea, Cronenberg merely leaves it sitting there and never fires it up the way he did in Shivers.
The best scenes are the graphic and often unpleasant images of victims going berserk a scene where a doctor slices off his nurses finger and starts trying to suck the stump in the midst of an operation; the image of a department store Santa being gunned down; and the fadeout on the heroines body being indiscriminately tossed out in the garbage. In what was prominently noted as being her first non-pornographic role, Marilyn Chambers, who had come to fame in films like Beyond the Green Door (1972) and The Resurrection of Eve (1973), acquits herself quite professionally in the lead.
David Cronenbergs other films are: Stereo (1969), a little-seen film about psychic powers experiments; Crimes of the Future (1970) set a future where people have become sterile and developed strange mutations; Shivers/They Came from Within/The Parasite Murders (1975); The Brood (1979) about experimental psycho-therapies; Fast Company (1979), a non-genre film about car racing; Scanners (1981), a film about psychic powers; Videodrome (1983) about reality-manipulating tv; The Dead Zone (1983), his adaptation of the Stephen King novel about precognition; The Fly (1986), his remake of the 1950s film; Dead Ringers (1988), his greatest film, about two disturbed twin gynaecologists; Naked Lunch (1991), his surreal adaptation of William S. Burroughs drug-hazed counter-culture novel; M. Butterfly (1993), a non-genre film about a Chinese spy who posed as a woman to seduce a British diplomat; Crash (1996), Cronenbergs adaptation of J.G. Ballards novel about the eroticism of car crashes; eXistenZ (1999), a disappointing film about Virtual Reality; Spider (2002), a subjective film that takes place inside the mind of a mentally ill man; the thriller A History of Violence (2005) about a hitman who has taken up a new identity; Eastern Promises (2007) about the Russian Mafia; A Dangerous Method (2011) about the early years of psychotherapy; Cosmopolis (2012), a surreal vision of near-future economic collapse; and the dark Hollywood film Maps to the Stars (2014). Cronenberg has also made acting appearances in other people films including as a serial killer psychologist in Clive Barkers Nightbreed (1990); a Mafia hitman in To Die For (1995); a Mafia head in Blood & Donuts (1995); a member of a hospital board of governors in the medical thriller Extreme Measures (1996); as a gas company exec in Don McKellars excellent end of the world drama Last Night (1998); as a priest in the serial killer thriller Resurrection (1999); and a victim in the Friday the 13th film Jason X (2001).
The executive producer and music supervisor on the film was Ivan Reitman, who had produced Cronenbergs Shivers and later became a mainstream comedy director with the likes of Ghostbusters (1984), Twins (1988), Kindergarten Cop (1990) and Six Days, Seven Nights (1998). When Rabid was released on video in the mid-80s and David Cronenberg was still a relative unknown, the film went out with the amusingly misleading box cover that announced that it was from the director of Ghostbusters.