Friday, November 05, 2010

Rats: Night of Terror (1984)

In a post-apocalyptic world, the remaining few are split up into two factions: those that have fled underground to avoid the ravages of nuclear fallout and the scavengers who have remained on the surface. Our story here unfolds around one particular band of survivors who pretty well encompass exactly what we've come to expect from the extensive library of Mad Max retreads. That being brash and violent punks whose commitment to fashion forward thinking despite the Earth being almost completely decimated is staggering. Fine leathers, silk scarves and yellow jump suits...and this is just the men. They roll into a deserted city and immediately scope the area for any hostile beings which essentially boils down to one of the gang literally riding his motorcycle about 20 feet ahead of the pack and then circling back. Unfortunately for our anti-heroes, the enemy here is hiding in plain sight.

They decide to hole up in an abandoned tavern/boardinghouse/bio-dome, seeing as it has a sophisticated gardening center that is able to grow vegetation that the soil will no longer cultivate, as well as, a water filtration system that appears to be made out of excess parts lifted from the set of TV's Double Dare. This would seem to be a model set-up for our barbarians of the new world order to exploit except for all those bodies lying around that appear to have been feasted upon.

What begins as another cheap Italian rip-off of one sub-genre quickly morphs into an equally cheap Italian rip-off of another...and yes, that is what I consider to be high praise. To be fair, Rats: Night of Terror is an awful film, even within the relatively low standards that should be applied here. The vast majority of the time is spent with poorly-constructed characters doing completely asinine things that only further hurt their survival chances. The music score does not ever seem to fit (and if history is any indicator, could very well have been lifted from any number of other films) and honestly, you just cant make standard footage of rat colonies climbing all over one another all that menacing. The fact that most of the attacks involve someone off camera dumping a box of rats onto one of the scavengers does not help, nor that the actors were clearly attempting to hold as many of the vermin to their bodies as possible to give the effect of being attacked.

Alas, there remains a few select scenes that are most definitely worth the price of admission. As is usually the case, I will refrain from spoiling too much here though they involve the rats burrowing into human carcasses and manipulating the bodies in ways that made me sad it took as long as it did in my lifetime to see something like that. I will also say that the ending left me in equal measure both numb with shock and giddy like a schoolgirl. Utterly fantastic nonsense.


Worth noting: The prologue to the film states that all FIVE continents were destroyed by the nuclear warheads. I guess I can see forgetting Antarctica, but that still leaves a remainder...

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