Unleashed in 1984, “Rats: Night of Terror” was destined to be a midnight movie classic from the start. Helmed by prolific purveyor of extreme exploitation madness Bruno Mattei, The late jack-of-all-trades genre-hopping director had indulged in all the excesses of the Italian trash-boom, from Nazi nuns and the living dead to softcore skin-flaunting femme fatales before delivering “Rats” his bugged out, post apocalyptic punk rock monster movie with an enemy as ridiculous as it’s shabby dubbing and adorably shoddy set designs. While the film on the whole is as bare and workmanlike as any 80s Italian grindhouse fare, screenwriters Claudio Fragasso and Herve Piccini throw enough inspired gross-out gags to keep us entertained along the way and while nowhere near a classic, Mattei manages to come very close to capturing some of Lucio Fulci or Lamberto Bava’s more deranged energy. “Belatedly, viewed as a master of cut-price plasma-spillage” according to 88 Video, the label behind an excellent recent re-issue, “Rats: Night Of Terror” is considered one of Mattei’s most watchable films and a throughly enjoyable b-movie bop.
Before the tormentors of the title are literally dumped on screen by the bucket load, we meet our gang of Mad Max rejects motoring around the futuristic wastelands of suburban Rome…I mean America. Set in the fantastic future of 2015, the survivors of a nuclear war are divided between those who live in comfortable underground cities and the “New Primitives” who struggle in the sunlight. A dozen of these scavengers, including Italian gore legends Ottaviano Dell’Acqua (ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS) as ‘Kurt’ and the iconic Geretta Geretta from Demons as “Chocolate” amongst the gang, come across an eerie, abandoned village. Discovering drinkable water, a greenhouse with edible fruit and only a few dozen mutilated corpses, they figure this is a fine place to live and settle in for the night in a former research lab. After some booze, casual racism and gross sex, the gang become the prey of swarms of “mutated” rats who try to make their way into the building.
It’s here where “Rats: Night of Terror” transcends being another crappy monster movie and becomes something far more enjoyable…it becomes one of the crappiest monster movies of all time, mixing in shots of real rats basically just…chilling, with a flurry of rubber rats thrown at our hapless actors with increasing regularity, completely ridiculous dialog and some of the most downright idiotic characters you could hope for, all played with the super seriousness and commitment to absurd material that Italian exploitation films thrive on. Add to this some exploding torsos, a few classic spaghetti based prosthetics and grown men shooting rubber rats at point blank range with shotguns and you have more than enough ingredients for a so-bad-it’s-good gem. And who doesn’t love to see Geretta Geretta kicking ass with a giant machine gun? However, as the gang gets chewed to bits one by one in increasingly avoidable ways, RATS hurtles towards a completely insane, even more ridiculous conclusion that propels it into total trash classic status. While it’s hard to argue “Rats: Night of Terror” is a “good” movie, it’s definitely a good time and a must watch for any genre fans. Available to stream on iTunes or via Full Moon’s streaming channel, as well as part of an awesome HD re-issue from the UK’s 88 Films, check the trailer for “Rats: Night of Terror” below and sink your teeth into this over the top Italian shocker.
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