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RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR

Italian trashola from 1983 that sees sleaze maven Bruno Mattei, a.k.a. Vincent Dawn, take on the popular post-nuke genre with a dash of WILLARD (in the form of mutant rats). It’s every bit as ridiculous as it sounds.

The Package
     This is apparently Bruno Mattei’s own favorite of all his films. Other Mattai atrocities include the Nazi-sploitation fest S.S. GIRLS, the nunsploitation epic THE OTHER HELL and the zombie splatter-thon HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD. RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR (RATS--NOTTE DI TERRORE) was released in the midst of the Italian MAD MAX rip-off boom (see 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS, AFTER THE FAL OF NEW YORK, THE NEW BARBARIANS, etc). It was apparently intended as a far grander futuristic epic than the severely scaled-down gorefest that resulted--which, Mattei claims, was inspired by NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, with rats in place of zombies.

The Story
     This story occurs over the course of a single night in the year 225 A.B. (“After the Bomb”). A gang of wandering refugees break into a long-abandoned research laboratory containing purified water and lots of food, but also countless rats. Several chewed-up corpses are discovered, apparently killed in a past ambush. The truth, however, is far more horrific, as two members of the group discover when several of the ever-present rats attack and devour them in the laboratory basement!
     The next attack occurs a couple floors up, where a rat crawls into a woman’s sleeping bag and slithers up her vagina. Rats also chew through the tires of the protagonists’ vehicles, effectively trapping them.
     The rats, it seems, have become abnormally intelligent due to the experiments of the laboratory’s overseers. Now the steadily dwindling human protagonists, who are becoming increasingly rat-like themselves, must somehow survive the constant rat attacks--and each other!

The Direction
     If you’re at all familiar with Italian sleaze movies of the 1980s you’ll know what to expect from this film, which features nearly every annoying Italian movie convention of the time: the photography is tacky, the atmosphere wildly overwrought and the acting thoroughly lackluster (not that the script gives the performers a whole lot to work with). There’s a fair amount of gratuitous female nudity (for which I’m not complaining), cute-rate special effects (with rats portrayed by rubber toys on a conveyor belt!) and laughable English dubbing.
     This means unforgiving or hyper-critical viewers will want to steer clear, but those who can appreciate a good trash fest will be sated. What Bruno Mattei lacks in talent he more than makes up for in endearingly ham-fisted sincerity and a cheerful willingness to push his material over the top. There are other killer rodent movies, certainly, but this is the only one to feature rats literally exploding out of a dead man’s torso and emerging from the mouth of a severed head. This film, in short, fully earns its bad movie stripes, unlike so much of today’s self-aware “cult” cinema.
 

Vital Statistics

RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR (RATS--NOTTE DI TERRORE)
Beatrice Film S.R.L.-Roma/Imp.Ex.Ci.-Nizza

Director: “Vincent Dawn” (Bruno Mattei)
Producer: Jacques Leitienne
Screenplay: Claudio Fragasso, Bruno Mattai, Herve Piccini
Cinematography: Franco Delli Colli, Henry Frogers
Editing: Gilbert Kiroine
Cast: Richard Raymond, Janna Ryan, Alex McBride, Richard Cross, Ann Gisel Glass, Christoph Bretner, Tony Lombardo, Henry Luciani, Ciny Leadbetter, Chris Fremont, Moune Duvivier
 

     

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