Horror movie remakes haven’t exactly had the best of receptions in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped us greedily anticipating the upcoming remake of David Cronenberg’s venereal horror classic Rabid, which is being put together by Sylvia and Jennifer Soska, previously responsible for cult hits American Mary and Dead Hooker In A Trunk. We spoke to the sisters about what to expect…
SciFiNow: What attracted you to David Cronenberg’s Rabid, and why do you feel now, 40 years later, it is ripe for a remake?
Sylvia Soska: Jen and I love Cronenberg’s work. His films stand out and have shaped so many artists with the bravery of his expression. The themes of extreme violence and women being preyed upon seems to be ripped from today’s headlines, yet this was a conversation Cronenberg was having with his audience almost 40 years ago. There
is a lot of room for further analysis on those topics.
Jen Soska: It’s like Cronenberg foretold the future in that film, which is very fascinating to me. The themes touched on are even more front-and-centre in today’s world. The casual nature of plastic surgery is laughed off in the original in a day and age where it was far from being the norm, but now getting a new nose ’cause “daddy didn’t like the last one” is an everyday occurrence! There’s a lot of room there to explore those issues in today’s world, which is very exciting.
Rabid was a female-fronted horror film. Is this partially what attracted you both given your strong titular lead in American Mary?
SS: Jen and I enjoy not only writing strong female characters, but real human characters regardless of gender. There is a complication in a woman who undergoes an unconventional surgery and finds herself quite different like the original Rabid’s Rose. I would like to get to know her better in this story [and] I’m excited for people to see her again.
JS: For me, it’s always about the stories we’re telling. I love the journey a character goes on, and transformation is always a big theme in our films. That’s what attracted me most to this particular story. While a film centring around a female character is something I enjoy and think we need to see a lot more of, it’s not solely what we look for in a new project.
I read that you want this to be an honourable remake, like John Carpenter’s The Thing and Paul Schrader’s Cat People, which both offered something new. What do you feel are some of the essential components for producing a successful remake?
SS: I am usually a naysayer when it comes to remakes, but I think I’m thinking more of the cash grab remakes that don’t love or respect the original material. The entire team that has come together feels very strongly about Rabid. The producing team sought Jen and I out to direct the project, which gives you an idea of how they are looking at the remake. You have to understand the original and be a fan of the material, that’s the only place you can start when approaching a film like this.
JS: I’m the first one waving the “I hate remakes” flag so I feel that [that] makes us excellent choices for the remake. I know what makes them not work. You need to have a love and respect not only for the original material and creator, but the fans as well. You can tell when a film is being remade for the value of the “name” only and it sucks. But in the aforementioned films and even Cronenberg’s The Fly itself, it was more of a re-imaging than a straightforward remake. You need to bring something new. You need to build on the strengths of the original. We couldn’t love Cronenberg more so I feel that we’re a great match for this project.
Can you tease some of the surprises you will bring to your version of Rabid? Is there anything you want to improve on from the low-budget original?
SS: All I can say is that there will be rabies! We are very active online, so we will be sharing little pieces as the project continues on.
JS: I have to be vague, I’m so sorry. It’s going to be everything the fans are hoping for because we’re fans ourselves. Do follow us online. We like to drop hints and make big announcements when we can.
There are rumours of a subsequent TV series. What can you tell us about your plans for this?
SS: I can just tell you that it will be very awesome. There’s a world being created and it’s a bloody good time.
JS: The film will be setting up the world. There’s a lot going into the film that’ll come to play in a big way in the series.
Rabid will be released in 2017. For more news about the biggest movies, pick up the new issue of SciFiNow.