Anchor Bay // 1983 // 93 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Deren Ney (Retired) // July 5th, 2002
"In the year 225 A.B. (After the Bomb), a group of post-apocalyptic bikers discover an abandoned research laboratory filled with food, water...and thousands of rats."
I grew up loving horror movies. I always thought it was the lure of the gore, the sick thrill of seeing stuff on screen that you were embarrassed to even imagine. But after viewing Rats: Night of Terror, I find myself doubting that. Because as far as gore goes, I can't think of a movie that comes even close to this rodent splatter flick. Freddy Krueger, Jason, Pinhead, these horror figureheads have nothing on the vermin of this 1983 Italian horror "classic" (?). The 1980s were in fact marked by the clampdown on albums and movies which were believed to corrupt youth. While I don't think this film would make someone flip into insanity (much to Tipper Gore's dismay), it certainly wouldn't discourage it. I won't be an elitist and say these campy films don't have their place, but this doesn't hold the same oh-my-god-this-sucks-in-the-best-way thrill of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. It's just as rickety, but less fun.
Rats: Night of Terror follows a plot that has been treaded over and over in the horror genre: A group of miscreants spends a night warding off curiously intent evil beings. In Night of the Living Dead, it was zombies. In Rats: Night of Terror, it's...well, you know. That is basically where the similarity ends, if quality is not a factor. If it is a factor, then George Romero's classic spits brainy bile all over this hackneyed mess. It is shameless in its attempts to disgust, but so much so that it becomes grimly admirable. Blood? It's here in abundance (mostly real animal blood, as budget required). Sex? Everywhere, including the requisite casual romp about 15 minutes into the film. But it never quite gels into a more cohesive thrill ride, the kind of thing folks gather to throw cheese at in midnight screenings.
The only notable extra is an interview with the director, which features him speaking in Italian with American subtitles. I know it's narrow-minded to think everyone should speak English, but reading this interview was a bore. It does have enlightening moments, such as when we learn that all the entrails in the film are those of real animals, but overall it doesn't provide much insight into the process. What might have been interesting was a look at how such a low budget film is actually put together.
Rats: Night of Terror is pointless unless you like gory B-movies, but if you do, sit back, relax, and enjoy this savagely campy, carnage-laced schlockfest. Plus, Quentin Tarantino will probably think you're really cool.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Italian)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Theatrical Trailer
* Interview with Director Bruno Mattei
* Bruno Mattei Biography