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Friday, December 12, 2014

Rats: Night of Terror

Rats: Night of Terror (aka Rats - Notte di terrore)
1984
Bruno Mattei

After a nuclear war, a gang of young punks calling themselves, ‘The New Primitives’ enter a burned out city with a truck and a collection of sweet motorcycles. In one building they find not only food and what appears to be scientific project to grow plants, but also a lot of corpses and rats. These rats are smarter and more aggressive than normal. The New Primitives find themselves under assault from waves of rats that are hungry for blood. With nowhere to go they try and make a stand against the adorable little monsters.

The best actor in the film
The post-apocalyptic genere is often hyrbidized with science-fiction and westerns, but rarely anything else. Perhaps that is becuase horror needs to be ground in something resembling reality. Not neccesarily real, a film like Alien (1979) goes to great length to make sure it’s enviroments feel real to the characters and the universe they inhabit. Rats: Night of Terror brings the post-apocalyptic film together with the eco-horror animal attack film. It fails almost immediately by giving the viewer characters that don’t feel like they are living in a world that has been devastated by nuclear war. A better script could have presented our gang of scavengers as nihilistic partiers merely out to live a life filled with excess until they die. As it is, they just seem like wasteful idiots with terrible dress sense.
 
What Rats: Night of Terror lacks in intelligence it more than makes up in creative rat attacks; we’ve got rats pouring on to people, leaping onto their throats, and even crawling inside them.  Here the movie uses it’s fantastical premise to its advantage and stages animal attacks that couldn’t possibly happen in a more realistic animal attack film.  The gore effects are good if not great. A major downside of the film is that some of the rats are obviously not being treated with care on screen, definitely a sour note for such a silly horror film.

The preferred way to watch a Bruno Mattei movie.
I always have a difficult time judging actors when they are dubbed over, and Italian genre films in particular often have a combination of an over emoting actor paired with under emoting voice actor. This film is no different. The worst offender is a nonsensical scene with Kurt (Ottaviano Dell'Acqua) and crew finding a stash of food and then preceding to dance around and waste it. The actors are going wild but their voices make them sound like they are forcing themselves to have a good time. Maybe that was the point. Maybe Mattei had enough insight to show these characters are pushing themselves to live a carefree life while the weight of the end of civilization crushes their souls. 

Wait, this is the director who made Terminator II: Shocking Dark (1990)? Never mind.


Scream Factory released Rats: Night of Terror on  Blu-ray along with Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead (1980). The results are impressive. This was never going to be a spectacular film, but I think it’s one Mattei’s best looking ones. Rats: Night of Terror has some major flaws, but if your a post-apocalyptic movie junkie, I’d give it a try.

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