Rats: Night of Terror (1984) Film Review: Is it Really Mattei’s Best Work?

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If you ever get into a discussion about directors who influenced exploitation cinema and the name Bruno Mattei doesn’t come up, then you and whoever you’re talking to need to do some homework. This Italian filmmaker worked with every genre of exploitation cinema. He did zombie, nazisploitation, sexsploitation, mondo, cannibal, slasher, nunsploitation, sci-fi, and women in prison films. On IMDB he’s credited with directing over fifty films! He’s also worked as a writer, editor, and dabbled in just about every other filmmaking department. He’s worked with Jess Franco, Lucio Fulci, and numerous other huge names in foreign film. His movies are famous for goofy actors, silly dialogue, and getting the most out of a small budget. Rats has all of this, and according to his IMDB bio, he thinks it is his best work. With all of the recent hype around the new Mad Max film, I felt like the similarities it had with this film warranted a review.

image This is a post-apocalyptic film about a band of travelers surviving in a world almost devoid of human beings. Bands of gangs are all that’s left in the world, fighting to survive. Nuclear destruction has created a scenario in which rats are taking over the surface and it’s thought that humans may only be able to survive underground. Mattei made this film as his homage to the sci-fi and post-apocalyptic films that came before. The look of the small group of survivors in this movie made me think of Mad Max, and the end made me think of the ending of The Planet of the Apes.
imageThe film has a decent amount of violence and gore; but, it is really the hilarity of the dialogue that you will remember from this film. It is hard to tell if it’s the translation, the dubbing, or both; but whatever it is, it creates some hilarious dialogue. For instance, there is an incredibly awkward scene early in the film.  Two characters are trying to bang it out on the floor, with an audience of course, and the “play-by-play” by the observers is pretty damn funny. Or maybe I’m the only immature guy here who is a sucker for awkward sex talk.

The deaths were original, but ridiculous. Mattei was very good at putting new twists on his kills in all of his films. When you see this film there will be a few pretty memorable deaths. They’re funny and imaginative, but not necessarily gory. There is a vagina kill, that makes no sense in the world of  Biology. There is an exploding body kill, that makes no sense in the world of Physics. Finally there is a grenade suicide, that makes no sense in the world of common sense. While I found myself entertained by these, they still just seemed dumb to me. It’s completely a preference thing when it comes to horror film kills. I don’t know why certain genres just don’t do it for me. I can watch cliche slasher kills all day long, as long as there’s lots of blood. I can watch comedic slasher kills and get more enjoyment out of them than the comedic kills in the context of this film, and I really don’t know why.

image By the end of the film, I realized that I don’t think this is Mattei’s best work. I would re-watch Zombi 3 or Women’s Prison Massacre before this, but it’s still pretty good. I would give it a 6/10 and say that any fan of this blog should at least see the film. I bought it because I’m a fan of Mattei’s and it does have some re-watchability in my eyes. I will usually buy a 6 if it’s something genre specific for my collection that I may re-watch. My ratings of 7 or 8 are usually films that I would purchase because I know they have a significant amount of re-watchability in my eyes. The 9 and 10 ratings are those classics that I believe everyone should buy. So if this is in your wheelhouse as a genre, or you are a fan of Mattei this is probably a film worth purchasing for you. You can do that by clicking the Amazon Affiliate link below.

To purchase other films mentioned in this review, click the pics:

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