I love it when a movie mixes together various horror elements and has an original take on them. How many zombie movies do we see recycling the same rules? Romero zombies aren’t the only ones out there. Freddy isn’t the only villain to sport cool weapons on his hands. Mad scientists aren’t always recognized geeks.
Rabid Love manages to cherry pick good cliches from other horror movies, churns them together, and spits out an original, fun film. It has a modern day soundtrack that gives it an interesting boost by using it effectively. There are a wide variety of kill scene executions, and the coolest idea by far is the steel bear claws.
Heather (Hayley Derryberry), her boyfriend John (Paul Porter, who also directed RL), and 2 other couples escape to Kansas in 1984 for a weekend camping trip. While one of the couples seem toxic, John is planning on asking Heather to marry him. After getting settled in, John goes outside to chop some wood and meets David (Brandon Stacy) and he is invited to join the group for dinner. David assimilates well with the group the next night, but John seems to be acting strange.
That night, a man and 3 women are participating in some kind of ritual in the woods to “save the bear” that locals are hunting and blaming for a rash of missing people in the area. Suddenly, they are attacked and slaughtered by an unknown assailant with steel bear claws. John (after sleeping with Heather) disappears from the house in the middle of the night, and is followed by one of the girls (Summer played by Hannah Landberg) who tries to sleep with him. John is obviously sick, and runs off into the woods.
When Heather wakes in the morning, Summer’s boyfriend informs her that he saw John and Summer leaving at 4 am and going into the woods. While investigating, Heather and her friend are surprised by one of the ritual girls that is still alive. They take her back to the house, and that’s when all hell breaks loose.
Rabid Love then becomes a mash up of many different films. On the surface, it’s an isolation piece with a killer that stalks teenagers in the woods, but it quickly shifts to a 28 Days Later story line involving John and his sickness. It attacks young people transitioning into real lives much like the American Pie did. The killer brandishes these cool wrist knives that look like bear claws (but they are greatly underused) which reminded me of a mix between Freddy gloves and Wolverine blades (but shorter).
The soundtrack features some very good “period” piece songs that are original and fun. Most of the songs sound like they were lifted from the 80s, and features Gene the Werewolf and Ruby Faith and the Waiting World. Instead of just using the soundtrack for car rides and background noise. Heather suffers from nightmares, and they are used in those as well. The soundtrack definitely adds an additional playfulness to Rabid Love that I found refreshing.
While the film is a decent watch, it does a few weaknesses. The group is entirely way too accepting of David, and Summer’s toxic relationship is an enigma. Heather’s nightmares are fun, but start before anything traumatic has happened. They make sense after a few events, but just act as foreshadowing beforehand (and, as a result, are less effective as the film approaches it’s climax). The acting is decent, and John is transitioned well as the movie progresses. The rest of the characters seem to be just fodder, and Heather never really evolves as a survivor or anything else. She just becomes.
Rabid Love is a Saturday afternoon horror film. It lacks in scares, but is a fun watch. It’s definitely worth a watch.