The One That (Thankfully) Got Away

By movie buff standards, my DVD collection is fairly modest. (No Blu-ray as of yet.) Still, shelf space in my humble lair is currently at a premium—at a premium because my lair is humble, you might say. Some recent reorganizing alleviated the situation, but I’m not about to stop buying movies, and space will be a problem soon enough. Still, at least the time of indiscriminate purchases, which resulted in my being the proud owner of turkeys like AVP 2: Requiem and Constantine, is over. Until I’m able to upgrade from crypt to castle, space considerations force me to evaluate more closely what I buy.

Regular readers (all three of you!) know that I like to rummage through DVD bargain bins. Since I’m a fan of almost every genre, I’m usually able to find a movie I like. Or six. (Recent non-horror additions include Serpico, The Elephant Man and Goodfellas.) In September, I came across Rats: Night of Terror, a slice of slightly tempting Italian cheapo horror from 1984. As is my habit when I only kind of want something, I dithered. Long story short, I didn’t buy Rats: Night of Terror. In fact, if memory serves, I left the store empty-handed. But soon after, in time-honored fashion, I began to regret my decision.

At least they had a nice one-sheet.

A few weeks later, I bought watchable Jaws rip-off The Last Shark, which happened to include the trailer for Rats: Night of Terror among the extras. Luckily, by a wide margin, it turned out to be the worst trailer I’ve ever seen! The horrendous costumes, wooden acting, and atrocious dubbing made me feel sorry for anyone involved with the movie. And the guinea pigs, which were used in lieu of actual rats(!), look to have been treated appallingly. The whole thing appears to be a sad, stupid and incompetent mess. And remember, these are supposed to be the good parts, the parts that make us want to see the movie! Only one shot, of city streets being fumigated by ominous government types, is noteworthy.

"Excuse me, why are we dressed like Adam & The Ants?"

Everything considered, I don’t particularly enjoy lousy movies. Oh, I have five Ed Wood, Jr. movies in my collection, and a few other duds like this one and the aforementioned pair, but I rarely seek out bad movies because they’re bad. (Wood’s oeuvre is an exception.) Competent storytelling, with a touch of invention or even artistic integrity, is perfectly doable on a small budget. Also, I suspect that connoisseurs of crap watch rotten movies because it makes them feel superior. That’s a pretty smug agenda, and not entirely compatible with being a true fan. So with the clear indication that Rats: Night of Terror would have been a real pain to sit through, I was relieved that I hadn’t bought it.

"Remember to eliminate every trace of this rotten movie, men!"

Reading about terrible movies can often be more fun than actually watching them. The IMDb bio of the late Bruno Mattei, who directed Rats: Night of Terror, claims that he “eventually had more pseudonyms than any working director in the world” and that he’s been called “The Italian Ed Wood.” Various sources also allege that the rodent epic was his personal favorite, and that’s is easy enough to believe. When your résumé sports titles like S.S. Extermination Love Camp and Women’s Prison Massacre, Rats: Night of Terror sounds like a Bergman-esque work of cinematic art by comparison. You know, now that I think about it, I seem to remember Rats: Night of Terror just barely losing out to Out of Africa at the 1985 Oscars …

Voiceover from the trailer:

“Rats! What do they want from us? Rats! Why are they man’s enemy? Rats! They’re watching! Waiting! Rats! Their time has come! Why do rats repel us? What is it about those little furry bodies that’s so frightening? Just think of them close to you in the night! Who can stop them? And how? Rats are here, under our feet, all around us!”

But not in my DVD collection. Phew!

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