rabid (1977)

the perpetual struggle of keeping a feral burnout woman as a medical subject possesses undeniable cosmological ramifications. as such a subject your movements are surveilled but you also get to be invisible. this is our ability. this paradox is the means through which two people may engage in an interpersonal dynamic with catastrophic results; what’s bigger than a relationship, anyway? abject terror always and inevitably arises from the mundanities, from lecherous looks from men in crowded theaters, from weaponized self-care as a means to a bitter end. “what you need is a nice hot bath. it will relax you and then you won’t ache anymore.”

cronenberg would later move on to observations of the male body, but in his early work, his concern lies in the female body through a lens that I am unable to read as anything other than totally trans. rose’s thorn is phallic but the film circumvents the oversimplification of the phallus as necessarily repressive or predatory. vagina dentata, after all, lends itself well to the transfem body.

fitting, then, that this film largely plays out internally; it’s human dynamics, connective tissue, relationships between/to bodies. cronenberg is never bigger than such relationships but this is what makes him great. he understands the cosmic implications of couple dynamics — of the inevitable perversion of mutual ownership when it functions as the centerpiece of a larger system of consumption to which we cannot consent. there is no opting out of being eaten alive. this is expressed through abstract physicality, through the abnormal gendered effects of burning motorcycle wreckage, quebec oldies radio in kenneth anger’s motorcycle garage. “we can be together on the phone.” bodies dreaming of bodies (nymphomania) — what other option is there?

akerman’s je, tu, il, elle culminates with ten minutes of gay sex and this film is a bloodthirsty version of that. cronenberg absolutely retains the gay sex, too, but slows it down to the point of slipping past you while the film’s own becoming becomes. the physicality of cronenberg’s body horror resides in the margins, but the body and its grotesqueness is also the text itself; a conduit through which identity morphs and lingers. we are not at home in our bodies, unable to belong to anyone, let alone “ourselves”; we are always accompanied by generations of latent viruses: https://www.colorado.edu/today/2020/10/15/remnants-ancient-viruses-could-be-shaping-coronavirus-response-says-new-packard-fellow

like a pandemic, this film is 9 hours long. “that shot won’t protect you from the crazies.”

watched w/ covid.

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