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  RAT MAN

This Italian slasher movie sucks, but is notable for the title character, an undersized mutant played by Nelson de la Rosa, a.k.a. the World’s Smallest Man.

The Package
     The Dominican born Nelson de la Rosa, credited as the world’s smallest human by the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records, died in 2006 (at age 38). He was an avid Red Sox groupie, circus performer and sometime actor. Films he appeared in include the 1996 ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU and the 1988 RAT MAN (a.k.a. QELLA VILLA IN FONDO AL PARCO, EL HOMBRE RATA, TERROR HOUSE).
     The exploitation movie veterans David Warbeck and Janet Argen also appear in the film, one of the final entries in the Italian slasher cycle of the eighties. After sitting through it you’ll understand why the cycle didn’t last!

The Story
     In a secluded laboratory a mad scientist, looking to win a Nobel prize, impregnates a monkey with rat sperm and so creates a grotesque humanoid creature with sharp claws and fangs. The scientist keeps the malevolent “Rat Man” in a cage, but it inevitably gets loose...and proceeds to terrorize the tropical island where the scientist’s laboratory is located.
     The Rat Man’s first stop is a beachside photo shoot with a bunch of busty models. It kills one of them, alerting an upstanding woman named Terry, who has a model sister who happens to be in the area. The victim is not actually related to Terry, and the police investigation of the crime is less than satisfactory. Thus Terry stays on--and hooks up with Fred, a journalist who’s also interested in the killings.
     More murders follow, of course, with the Rat Man emerging from a refrigerator, a box and even a toilet to do its nasty work. Eventually Terry and Fred track the creature to the laboratory where it was conceived, and appear to kill it...but in the final scenes it hides in a suitcase to terrorize airline passengers.

The Direction
     Those wanting gore or suspense won’t find much of either here. Instead we get a dull account totally lacking in energy. Missed opportunities abound; Nelson de la Rosa’s Rat Man, being the resourceful critter he is, would at the very least seem to offer all manner of possibilities for creative kills. All we get, alas, are a few surprisingly bloodless murders (the lighting is too dark to make out much), some gratuitous nudity (courtesy of Eva Grimaldi, who like de la Rosa could have used more screen time) and long stretches of dullness. Even the final airline attack, which should have provided a rousing climactic kill-a-thon, occurs entirely offscreen.
     But Nelson de la Rosa makes for an extremely striking and horrific monster. The casting may be exploitive, but it works--the Rat Man is so perfectly realized that if I didn’t know better I’d swear it was a special effect.
 

Vital Statistics

RAT MAN (a.k.a. QELLA VILLA IN FONDO AL PARCO)
Fulvia Film

Director: Giuliano Carmineo
Producer: Fabrizio De Angelis
Screenplay: Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti
Cinematography: Roberto Girometti
Editing: Vincenzo Tomatti
Cast: Nelson de la Rosa, David Warbeck, Janet Argen, Eva Grimaldi, Lisa Menon, Werner Pochath, Anna Silvia Grullon

     

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