1.29.2009

The Rats aka Deadly Eyes

This is a repost of a review I posted to the Gentlemen's Guide to Midnight Cinema Forum over at Pop Syndicate. Hence the backdating and it's appearance before my "first post" on this blog. Check out the original thread here

I mentioned this one awhile back as one of the very much out of print flicks that I procured off the interwebs. I saw this movie once when I was a small child and it left one hell of a lasting impression on my psyche. Going back at 32, I fully expected to absolutely hate or at least have fun mocking what I expected to be 80s cheese. After all, to get the giant rat look, they put costumes on dachshunds. How in the world could this not be silly to a fault knowing that going in? To be honest, I don’t know, but silly it was not. In fact, much to my surprise, this flick was pretty damn effective.

Quick premise for the uninformed, which is probably just about everyone. The Health Dept. quarantines some grain that it suspects contains steroids and other contaminates on a dock for several days. In that time, of course, rats make meals of as much of the grain as they can until it is eventually ruled that the grain be destroyed. Upon destroying the now jacked up rats’ food source, the guv’ment unwittingly unleashes hell upon an unsuspecting NYC. Naturally, it’s up to our two main characters to save the day, but who honestly cares about the people in this movie? The point of watching this is to feed the fears of anyone with a rat phobia.

I won’t lie and say the writing is awesome or the acting inspiring, but I will say this; this movie had f*ckin balls! The first human to die in the entire movie is a baby. Not a young child or even a pre-teen, but a damn still-in-a-high-chair so-cute-it-hurts little baby. Followed shortly thereafter by her poor unfortunate sister that follows the grisly blood trail from the toppled high chair into the basement. To say the least, I was impressed. Everyone knows kids are almost always off limits in horror movies. Until they are teenagers, you can’t touch them. The other rat attack scenes were equally unnerving, including a scene in a theater that made me stop putting my feet on the floor as a youngen for a good, long time. Still, that first one was pretty shocking and just sets the tone for the rest of the film. No one is safe. Nothing is sacred.

Like I said, I was impressed. I am really hoping someone will eventually pick this up for a DVD release, but the biggest name in this whole movie is a cameo by Scatman Crothers. Not only that, but I actually think if you cleaned this up for a proper DVD, the movie would lose a lot of it’s punch. What I have is a bad VHS rip that is probably darker than they ever intended and that really helped the atmosphere and creepiness. It also did an excellent job of masking the fact that the giant “rats” were cute little doggies. I guess it’s kind of like vinyl is to music. Some midnight movies are just better on VHS.