director Bruno Mattei has genuinely achieved something
he made a movie
that's actually worse than Hell
of the Living Dead!
225 years after a nuclear war destroyed civilization,
a small band of motorized scavengers lucks upon
an abandoned desert town stocked with edible food
supplies. Beneath the town they discover a high
tech subterranean complex where some kind of experiment
was until recently underway. The technicians who
manned the complex are all dead —
devoured by man-eating rats.
Soon the nomads themselves are besieged by
a horde of the furry critters, who've developed
a high degree of intelligence since the Apocalypse.
The group is stranded when the rats deliberately
chew through the tires on their vehicles. One
by one the nomads are picked off, consumed alive
by the flesh-hungry rodents. A voice message,
recorded by the last remaining technician before
he died, offers hope of a rescue party. But can
the survivors hold out that long? Will any of
them live through this night of terror?
The big question here is how anyone watching
this flick could give a rat's ass (pun intended)
one way or another. This is a terrible
The "Road Warrior
Meets Willard" storyline
is moronic. It's advanced by stupid, tin-eared
dialog that could've been written by a 10-year
old. Each of the few characters on hand is nails-on-chalkboard
annoying. We want these people to be eaten
by the rats simply to put them out of our misery.
With names like "Video", "Lucifer", "Taurus" and
"Chocolate" (the token black character, naturally),
they're all played by terrible actors who are
woefully dubbed —
even more so than is customary in Italian exploitation
pics. The first five minutes are an excellent
indicator of the movie as a whole. After a text-crawl/narration
sequence (over stock footage of Monument Valley)
sets up the premise, the nomads roll into the
deserted town and discover the stored food. In
their elation they start dancing and gibbering
like complete fools. The black character, Chocolate,
is dowsed with a sack of flour, then ecstatically
leaps about while chortling, "I'm white! I'm white!
Whiter than you!" Ugh.
There isn't much in the way of gore or naked
women to help pass the time, either. (A corpse
explodes in one scene, ejecting rats as if by
air cannon, and one of the gals does strip down
before getting killed in her sleeping bag.) The
death-by-rat scenes are stupid, not shocking.
Stagehands simply throw the little beasties at
the actors from out of camera range. Most of them
aren't even rats, for Pete's sake...
As director Mattei admits in the supplemental
interview, the vast majority were actually guinea
pigs with fur painted to look like rats.
(Not very successfully I might add.) Regardless
of the type of rodent used, it's quite evident
the low budget wouldn't allow for an adequate
number of them. Twenty "rats" on a staircase are
enough to discourage characters from using it;
no one ever states the painfully obvious: "Let's
just run right past 'em!" The one shot of
the seething, red-eyed horde attacking en masse
is achieved with fake rats glued to a moving conveyer
belt. Normally such a sight would provoke howls
of mirthful derision. By this time, though, you'll
be so pissed off you won't feel like laughing.
(What meager supply of unintentional yuks to be
had comes mostly from the wretched dialog, but
these are very few and far between.)
Sadly, a number of real animals were
apparently injured or killed during the making
of the film. They're kicked and stomped on by
the actors, and dropped in bucket-loads from holes
in the ceiling. One scene has a rat attack victim
set ablaze with a flame-thrower, live guinea pigs
still clinging (glued?) to the stuntman as he's
running around on fire. So to its considerable
list of sins we can add animal cruelty.
Yet another good reason to detest this piece-of-shit
Anchor Bay's Hell of the Living
Dead DVD, Rats: Night
of Terror receives more attention than it's
due. No liner notes here, but for such a forgettable,
low budget crapfest the audio/visual quality of
the disc is quite high. (The snippet of stock footage
used to open the film is damaged and grainy; the
rest of the flick looks substantially better.) The
theatrical trailer —
under the alternate title "Blood Night" —
is included, along with the same 9-minute video
interview of director Mattei that's included with
Hell of the Living Dead.
Do not view this before seeing the movie unless
you want the incredible "surprise" ending of Rats
spoiled for you. 6/11/02
The AB disc reviewed here is going OOP in 2007.
On October 30, 2007 Blue Underground is reissuing
the title using the exact same transfer and extras.