Rats: Night of Terror (1984)

The year is 225 A.B. The A.B. stands for “after the bomb” and the world is a different place than the ones we’re used to in Italian gore movies. Gone are the cities infested by zombies, gone are the grottos infested by vampires, gone are the oceans infested by various Jaws rip offs. All that remains are buildings infested with rats!

But not just any rats mind you, but rats that look suspiciously like guinea pigs with a nice bronzer applied. It’s all because of the radiation and the accompanying mutation you understand. It makes you wonder what guinea pigs look like in this new world!

The problem with the guinea pigs playing the rats is that in most scenes all they’re doing is milling around, occasionally sniffing the air (probably the fumes from their paint job) and sometimes crawling on counters and stuff.

For scenes requiring the “rats” to attack humans, they drop from above and you just know that some Italian guy made about 50 lira a week dumping buckets of rodents on the people starring in this movie. Other times the rat attacks are accomplished by having some other guy probably stand just out of camera range and lob gobs of rats at these people who you would think would just run away from them. Since this is A.B. and times have changed though they just stand around yelling and moaning about how the rats are biting them.

But just who are these rodent-fearing primitives that have taken to living again on the planet’s surface while everyone else still lives underground? Bikers of course!

Yes, after the bomb the people that decide to make a go of it on the surface immediately become a biker gang. I don’t know how or why, but they’re a motley crew of people with catchy biker names like Video, Chocolate (she’s the token black survivor), Taurus, Lucifer and Kurt.

The action begins in earnest when Kurt’s biker gang rolls into some abandoned city and Kurt gets off his hog, looks around and gives the okay to stop. This biker gang of Kurt’s is something to behold. Back in the day when I used to ride, we all wore our leathers and our colors, but I don’t remember anyone wearing neck kerchiefs like Fred from Scooby-Doo or studded headbands. I remember those from a 1983 Pat Benatar music video, but not when cruising 101 with the boys.

This biker gang decides to spend the night in a building in spite of the rats they’ve observed and immediately split up to check the place out. They locate a bunch of plants that are being grown by someone with grow lights and stuff. They also find a room with a bunch of 1980s era computers (about the size of a couple of biker mamas) and Video starts punching buttons and a message comes up about eliminating the group. Whoops! This is also about the time that someone presciently mentions that he doesn’t like the combination of computers and rat-bitten corpses that they found earlier!

With the gang split up, the rats start to pick them off. Enough people start turning up dead and rat-bitten that Kurt finally realizes that they are under attack by the rats. The rats though are one step ahead of Kurt and everyone is really bummed to find out that the rats have eaten the tires on their motorcycles making escape impossible. Unless you were to simply walk out the front door until you were good and far away from the rats. But to a biker gang, that’s just so much crazy talk!

They decide to stay the night and trap themselves in this building by boarding it up Night Of The Living Dead-style which was a bit of a dumb ass move since the rats were already in the building!

The next morning all these people in hazmat suits arrive from underground and spray rat poison all over to kill the rats. Chocolate thanks them for saving them and these guys just look at her through their masks without saying anything. Chocolate starts to get worried that maybe all isn’t what it seems to be with these other survivors and then this dude takes his mask off and reveals the startling ending that’s just as awesome as finding a rat turd in your cereal.

This ending is telegraphed pretty well and doesn’t do much to explain anything that was going on, but it fit perfectly with the rest of this bizarre hybrid of zombie flicks, biker flicks, post-apocalyptic flicks, and rat flicks.

Director Bruno Mattei (Strike Commando, Hell of the Living Dead) has harnessed all his inabilities as a film maker with this movie and this effortless exercise in dumb, gory mayhem should not be missed. There’s the hilarious dialogue, the dubbing that made you wonder if it was added without Bruno’s knowledge as some type of sick joke, and the imaginative use of a completely unbelievable story full of unanswered questions. (Why would there still be power on? Why would anyone be trying to grow plants when there’s an army of rats on the loose? Why would World War III turn half the human race into bikers and the other half into giant vermin?)

All of it merely serves to enhance a film where the characters simply go from one rat encounter to the next with thankfully little time to reflect or actually think and unlike Bruno’s infamous half-breed zombie movie he sort of made with Lucio Fulci (Zombi 3), this one doesn’t overstay its welcome. Rats is the sort of drive-in trash that restores your faith in the idea that bad Italian gore movies can actually be fun to watch. No need to exterminate this one from your TV!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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