Exclusive: Ted Atherton Explains the Pathology of Beauty in RABID

To my fellow entertainment journalists and bloggers, take this advice: Don’t let the ink dry on your “Best Horror Movies of 2019” lists until you’ve seen Rabid, the remake of David Cronenberg’s seminal body horror classic remade by Jen and Sylvia Soska (aka The Twisted Twins). It’s not only the first (and so far only) remake of a Cronenberg movie, it’s a gruesome and engaging romp that will leave moviegoers rapt and devastated.

Rabid arrives in US theaters and VOD this Friday, December 13th. Give the trailer a spin at the top of the article and peep the synopsis below.

Horribly disfigured after a freak accident, doctors perform a radical medical procedure on an aspiring young fashion designer. But when the bandages come off, the side effects soon cause her to develop an insatiable appetite for human blood.


Yesterday, we shared an interview with the incomparable, multi-talented Tristan Risk, who explained what makes Rabid truly Canadian, and promising one of her three roles will lead to sleepless nights for many! Today, we continue our Week of Rabid with an interview with Ted Atherton. Atherton plays Dr. William Burroughs (a nod to the American Beat Poet of the same name–and Cronenberg’s adaptation of Naked Lunch). Give it a read below.

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Ted Atherton and Laura Vandervoort in Rabid (2019)

Dread Central: Let’s talk about the preparations you made for playing this character, Dr. William Burroughs, in Rabid. Did you look into the current state of human cloning and transhumanism in science?

Ted Atherton: Yeah, the Soska’s sent a number of research bits regarding that, that were really wild about that particular sort of rabbit hole, and then I pulled it down on the internet a little bit. Although, what I really found kind of interesting about the movie, like all good horror movies, it’s about some deep, dark truth about the human psyche and Rabid has it. And I also watched the original Cronenberg movie and in this re-imagining, as conceived by the Soska sisters, this cultural obsession with a certain standard of beauty leads to a kind of pathologization of anything that falls short of that standard, do you know what I mean? As if to not be beautiful or fit means you’re in need of a cure. And I found that particularly interesting from the character I was playing, Dr. William Burroughs, (with that nod to Cronenberg’s obsession with William Burroughs of Naked Lunch fame).

The fact that Laura Vanderboot’s character Rose works for a fashion designer (really played beautifully in a darkly comic way by my friend Mackenzie Gray, whose new line is called Schadenfreude, the German word for the dark pleasure we take in another’s misfortune) really dramatizes the moral sickness at the heart of this obsession with physical beauty, particularly physical beauty that’s competitive. And Rose is not a model but she’s not ugly; she’s average looking, or as average looking that hair and makeup can make you when you’re starting with Laura Vanderboot! But average isn’t good enough and it actually holds Rose back in events in her career. When this horrific traffic accident that drives Laura Vanderboot’s character into the hands of Dr. William Burroughs, it’s seen as a kind of good fortune because it provides the occasion for a complete physical transformation–a cure for the sickness of her mediocre looks and the cost, of course. becomes a growing and unknowing hunger, a special diet.

She gets transformed from a human being, a member of society, with all the connections of human society, into this solitary predator. That’s what I found most interesting. Dr. Burroughs, he comes across as very kind, sort of paternalistic, that was a kind of a father figure. And Rose is ultimately his creation, his child in a way. But what he’s transforming her into this child that’s going to have no connection with anything else in the world, because anyone that gets anywhere near her, who comes close enough to care about her, she’s going to destroy and turn into that same kind of lone predator.


DC: You’ve done a lot of sci-fi and drama but is it safe to say that Rabid is the most gruesome, brutal movie you’ve been in?

TA: Oh my god, absolutely. I’ve seen all of those prosthetics and practical effects close up and I have to tell you, were absolutely disgusting.

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Are you excited to check out Rabid this weekend? What do you think of our exclusive interview with Tristan Risk? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.

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