Directors: Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso
Stars: Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Geretta Geretta, Massimo Vanni
In the Christian year. 2015, the insensitivity of man finally triumphs and hundreds of atomic bombs devastate all five continents. Terrified by the slaughter and destruction, the few survivors of the disaster seek refuge under the ground. From that moment begins the era that will come to be called “After the bomb”, the period of the second human race. A century later several men, dissatisfied with the system imposed on them by the new humanity, choose to revolt and return to live on the surface of the Earth as their ancestors did. So, yet another race begins, that of the new primitives. The two communities have no contact for a long period. The people still living below ground are sophisticated and despise the primitives, regarding them as savages. This story begins on the surface of the Earth in the yeah 225 A.B. (After the bomb)…..
Ahh 2015, how could you have been so cruel to us? Anyway. that’s the text scroll we get at the start of this epic, post-apocalyptic schlock-buster in all it’s glory. I think I know what kind of cinematic experience I’ll be in for soon after reading it, not because of the beautiful and poetic wording of the intro, but because I had to correct two spelling mistakes that the filmmakers lovingly let slip onto the screen, and my spelling’s rubbish. I also know what I’m in for because said filmmakers are none other than Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso, two of the most infamous schlock jocks ever to grace cinema, and they’ve never let me down yet. I also know what I’m in for because the poster I used for this review is the only one that doesn’t totally spoil the end of the film a la “The Wicker Man” (1973) and “The Planet of the Apes” (1968) to name but two. I also know what I’m in for because I’ve actually seen the film twice before, but for the purposes of this review, I’ll be pretending that this isn’t the case even if I’m not sure why. I also.. Only joking.
After the text disappears, we see a lot of sand and the most significant image usable to show that this is truly a dystopian future. Two lizards on a road. There’s also a skeleton at the wheel of a truck just for good measure, but what’s this I hear, the sound of bikes and 80’s Italian electro? I think we’re about to meet the cast. There seems to be a lot of faces to remember here so thankfully the title sequence includes the character’s names, I shall list these with a brief description of their much developed character traits.
We have Kurt (the main leader guy, he looks like Barry Gibb), Chocolate (yeah, she’s black, and she’s a tough cookie), Taurus (he’s the angry, argumentative one. A bit like a bull if you know what I mean), Video (he likes video games), Myrna (she’s blonde and slightly hysterical), Lucifer (hot-headed sex pest), Deus (weirdo with a Tong Po haircut and a triangle tattood on his forehead, yep), Duke (he thinks he’d make a better leader than Kurt), Diana (Kurt’s girl, rarely does stuff), Noah (seems like a nice guy, looks like Maurice Gibb) and Lilith (the group slut who at some point decided to start dressing like a vampire. She’s Lucifer’s girl). I knew by looking at this crazy mob there wasn’t going to be a Dave or a Helen amongst them, but to be fair, they are some wacky names. Ha! it came up that it’s directed by Vincent Dawn, you’re fooling no one Bruno.
Now, I don’t know what it is about these post-apocalyptic, dystopian future films, but why the leather, the studded head bands, the naval captain’s hat and that one guy that has to go the full hog and dress as Napolean (see Duke)? Just as I’m wondering this, a truck has just pulled up with a sheet over the back so you can kind of see that it’s empty, then in the next shot, Taurus flies out of it on a motorbike. This film just needs to start calming down, there’s only so much schlock I can take per second. I haven’t even had a chance to say what’s going on yet.
What’s happening is they’ve entered this future ghost town place and decided to check it out. They walk into a bar and see a refrigerator full of rats, but think nothing of it and walk to the next room. I think something of it however as when they show these rats, I notice that their eyes are all pink like they’ve had all sorts of nonesense dripped into them. It’s like the film crew got them cheap from some testing lab or something, I’m sure I just saw one with no eyes at all and I’m starting to fear for their welfare already. Well, I guess this is Italian after all, it’s not like harming real animals on screen is a new thing for them unfortunately, see Cannibal Ferox.
They enter a room where there’s a load of boxes and after opening them they discover that they’re filled with food. This truly is an epic scene as we get such dialogue as “Hey, this is sugar! SUGAR!” and “Hey, this is flour!”. This scene culminates with Kurt pouring flour over Chocolate, the character, not the food stuff, and then she starts doing a jig and shouting “I’m all white, I’m whiter than all of you!”. This causes much merriment until Myrna pulls back a bed sheet and discovers a dead body being eaten by a bunch of rats. Fun time is officially over and Kurt exclaims “We must explore this shitty place!”.
As I’m trying to get my head around the all round campness of the dialogue, we get our first taste of rat abuse. Video slides a beer glass across the bar which twats a rat, sending it flying, and then Taurus hits a couple with a brush all angrily. Duke and Taurus then try and grab a rat from under a chair but it flies out and locks onto Duke’s face. Duke is nonplussed by this and throws it to the ground before shooting it with a massive shotgun. I think this particular rat was pre-dead. The rest of the gang go downstairs and find another dead body sitting in a chair. They soon notice that there’s rats all over the place. This film is about rats by the way.
Getting to the point anyway, a few more bodies and a lot more rats crop up over the next five or so minutes until video comes across a huge computer, and thinking it’s a video game accidently turns on all the power, but still somewhat pissed off that it isn’t actually a game decides to “kick it in the balls” and so he kicks it… in the balls. Upon doing this, a monitor comes on and somehow Deus figures out that by kicking it, the computer has started answering a question that no one asked. The monitor shows the words “Total Elimination Group” and Deus realises that it was meant for the bodies that they found. Everything I’ve just written in the madness of this paragraph actually happened in one short scene, honestly, I’ve just seen it. At the same time this is going on, Lilith and Noah find a room with plants growing in it. Boring!
After burning the bodies and a short “the rat count is growing” montage, we join the gang in the bedroom area where Lucifer and Lilith are having full sex in front of everyone in a sleeping bag. This seems to frustrate Taurus and he tells them to go outside if they want to copulate before throwing a boot at them. Kurt agrees and orders them out so they do so, but not before a light hearted scene where they get stuck in the sleeping bag and have the rest of the group throw one liners their way. It is funny like, but probably not the way Bruno Mattei intended, it’s more for the cheesy dubbing/dialogue.
Outside, Lucifer’s all “Bastards” and “I’ll kill them”, but Lilith isn’t really listening however and just wants to get straight back to it. and eventually they do, which entails some uncalled for full frontal nudity from both. When they’re all finished, Lucifer gets pissy again and tells Lilith he wants to be alone and heads for the bar. We now join Noah who seems to have taken a shine to the plant room, and as he’s feeling up some of the plants, he notices rats are coming out of pipes and landing in the water supply. Absolutely sickened by this, he runs over and tries to remove them, but then loads of the pesky creatures land on him and eat his face. One down.
So now it appears to be death time and about time too. Lucifer finds a full bottle of what seems to be very strong booze in the bar and heads outside. After getting totally rat arsed (pun intended), he falls down a manhole and a large group of rats dive bomb him from a top floor window and not even him spitting at them fends them off, top rodent skills on show here. Meanwhile, Lilith is still asleep on her own in the sleeping bag and a rogue rat chews a hole in it and gets inside. She wakes up and panics, but of course, the zip is stuck again so she’s eaten up. Her screams wake up the others and when they find her, they come to the conclusion that Lucifer killed her in a sex rage. At this point the film calms down and gives us a chance to mourn the loss of these three vital characters that were taken from us in such quick fire fashion. Let’s have a moment of silence…
Oh wait, sorry, there’s no time for that as the Lilith murdering rat has made it’s way through her body and is now coming out of her mouth which causes Myrna to go into hysterics, and Noah has made one last appearence, covered in rats and blood, screaming. Kurt burns Noah with a flamethrower, or should I say Kurt burns a guy wearing the most obvious fire proof suit and mask with a flamethrower as the bizarre decision to show close ups of him prove. Our heroes then decide to search for Lucifer but after finding another room totally filled with geese, only joking, it’s rats, Myrna starts kicking off even more. Eventually Deus finds Lucifers dead body.
Just as I’m starting to think that this might be a good time for everyone to hightail it out of town, Taurus discovers that the little rodent rascals have chewed through the tires of their bikes. Dark times. Kurt takes this as a personal insult and punches Taurus, who apparently was supposed to be guarding the bikes, in the face. Duke takes this chance to demean Kurt’s leadership and suggest he’d do a better job. After another disagreement about what they should do next, they have a little scuffle and Chocolate tries to stop them, but Kurt pushes her away and decides that he and Duke should have a duel, however Duke bottles it and so Kurt orders everyone back inside to board up the place “Night of the Living Dead” style.
Back inside, Myrna’s gathering wood and acting all mental, singing to herself and stuff. She sees a spider on the wood she’s holding and starts screaming again so Kurt film slaps her across the face. Now to be fair to Myrna, the spider in question was a massive taratula and I’d have reacted about six times worse than she did but hey, maybe they should be used to them at this point in post apocalyptic Italy or something. The film seems to have finally calmed down action wise at this point though as Myrna’s all scared and Duke’s being all shifty, Deus talks a bit about the people who live underground (remember, from the opening text?) and at one point, even Diana says something.
Soon however, it’s all kicking off again as Chocolate screams that they forgot to baracade that window, yes the one that Diana has aimlessly wandered in front of and rat’s are soon pouncing on her. The rest of the crew manage to get them off her and they all retreat to the bed area where Taurus soon realises that he forgot to bring any water. Of course, this causes Myrna to go off on one again so Kurt decides it might be a good idea to go to the cellar to look for some. Soon enough, he and Duke are at loggerheads again about this plan and Kurt wins, so he orders Duke to stay with Chocolate, Myrna, and the now somehow sick, Diana. This doesn’t seem like a good idea to me…
So Kurt, Taurus, Video and Deus head down to the cellar, which is the place where all the plants are growing, only to discover the rats have polluted the water, and as soon as they head to go back upstairs, it turns out they’re blocked by the damn critters. Kurt has a go at “warming their whiskers”, but now his flamethrower has stopped working. I’m starting to think that’s it not really their day. Kurt fashions a makeshift torch and the fire keeps the vermin at bay as they scale the stairs, but one of the pesky bastards manages to literally fly at Taurus and knock him down where he’s immediately covered in rats. After a bit of the usual “forget him, he’s gone, we need to save ourselves” chat, they make it out.
They make it to the door where Duke etc are inside, but it’s now boarded up and as they kick it and tell him to open up, of course, he’s not playing ball. Chocolate demands for duke to let them in, but he points a gun at her and basically says that he’s the leader now so shut up. The confused Myrna seems to be on Duke’s side for some reason, and she’s holding the door shut near Duke. This is where Chocolate comes up with the best plan I’ve ever seen, she screams “Myrna, look out, there’s a big rat!” and Myrna panics and inadvertently knocks Duke to the ground where he is now at her mercy. Genius.
Just as the rats are on the charge towards them, the guys are let through the door. Kurt is obviously a tad miffed at Duke’s actions so he points a shotgun at his face, but Myrna begs that he doesn’t kill him. Kurt eventually backs down, but he does give Duke a swift kick in the bollocks. As they’re wondering what to do next, they hear a man screaming from somewhere in the building and Kurt immediately says it must be Taurus and that they should try and help him, so off they head towards the now rat filled bar leaving Diana in bed all ill.
What follows is a scene filled with tension and suspense as the gang have to cross a room filled with rats very slowly one at a time to get to the other side. Video goes first without much drama followed by the rest until Kurt is left, and as he starts his journey, well something happens that makes the rest of the gang panic as if the rats have started going mental, but really they just look as placid and confused as at any time in the film. Kurt bolts across the room, kicking innocent animals with every stride and makes it to the other side. I guess going fast works too then, that could have saved five minutes. Oh yeah, Video and Chocolate seem to be getting all lovey dovey.
Just before they get to the bar, Duke grips Myrna and tells her that he’s going to save her, they then head outside as the others stumble across Taurus who’s standing with his back to them unresponsive. Kurt spins him around and his face has been chewed off, yet he’s still standing there, has this all of a sudden turned into a zombie film? Nah, he just falls down and his body explodes throwing rats at the gang. Wait a minute, Diana’s joined them. Even she made it across the treacherous rat room. I’m starting to doubt that there was any danger in that scene at all you know, what a bunch of drama queens. They hear an engine outside and realise it’s Duke, so they run to the window.
Duke immediately starts shooting at them as he’s shouting how they can’t stop him and Myrna leaving, but soon he’s out of bullets. Kurt basically tells him to stop being silly and to give Myrna back, but Duke grabs her and pulls out a grenade saying that he’ll kill her and himself if they don’t just bloody go away and leave them alone. Before anyone can do anything however, it is of course the rats that have the final say as they appear all around Duke’s vehicle and start attacking him. Duke panics, Myrna style, throwing the grenade at some that have gotten into the vehicle and so he and Myrna are soon toast. It’s at this point that I realised that I quite liked Myrna and I’m sorry she’s dead, she was pretty fine.
As Kurt, Video, Chocolate and Deus watch the burning vehicle (I keep saying vehicle because it’s like a futuristic bike, car combo thing) and mourn the lovely Myrna, Diana wanders off back into the building alone. When they realise she’s gone, Kurt decides they should split up and look for her and as they do, there really seems to be a huge lack of rat action. Kurt searches the bedroom (so he had to scale the perils of the rat room again did he? Bah!) and Deus searches the cellar, however Diana is in another room and she’s gone totally bonkers. On a scale of one to Myrna, she’s turned it up to eleven and is starting to talk to the rats. Oh, she just slit her wrists, oh well, at least she’s actually done something now. Kurt eventually finds her getting chewed up and cries a bit before shooting her.
After the group meet up and talk about death and stuff, they’re soon involved in another rat race, as they start to pour out of the fireplace. The four remaining survivors end up in the computer room and find a recorded message from a guy that lived underground, who was hoping to be saved at some point, but everyone got killed by the scuttling rodent antagonists, and convenientely, he gets killed as he’s recording this message. After some shameless exposition dialogue regarding the rats and the people underground, the door starts to be forced open by the hairy pests and the gang fear this may be the end, but wait, who are these people in yellow hazmat suits coming out of the sewers?
As Kurt and Deus try in vain to keep the door shut, we see the sewer people spraying smoke around the streets until they come across the building where all these horrific shenanigans have been happening, though it seems it’s too late for Kurt and Deus as the door caves in and a tide of rats devour them both. This is the last straw for Chocolate and she decides she wants to die and begs Video to stab her in the throat. Before he can though (yes, he really was going to do it), the rats disappear and gas starts pouring into the room. Video comes to the conclusion that this is the underground people’s work and that they’ve come to save them so they rush outside but pass out before thay can make it. When they come around they see they’re surrounded by the yellow suit guys and immediately start thanking them for their help, but they remain silent so Video asks if they’re friends and one of the guys takes off his mask and…
You know what, I rarely do this but even I’m not going to spoil the end to this film as it’s one of those shocking final reveals that to be fair, you’ve probably already worked out, but I’d still feel a bit of a sod for mentioning it here. It’s on youtube anyway so yeah. I guess this is the part of the review where I actually start to review the film and well, what can I say? It’s an absolute schlock classic, even by Bruno Mattei’s ridiculously high/low standards. There’s rarely a pause for breath as the action comes thick and fast, but the real stand out in this film is the dialogue which I’m sure can’t be this atrocious in the original Italian version, as it’s mainly the delivery of the overdubbers that truly make it what it is. So there you go, Rats: Night of Terror, if you don’t mind seeing the odd rat getting trodden on or burnt, watch it with your eyes!!!
This review is dedicated to my great pal Zoe over at The Film Fetishist, who’s birthday it is today… Happy birthday, Zoe!!!