Here we go again. The apocalypse has happened… again. It has been over 200 years since the bombs fell and now the survivors are divided into two groups. There are those who remain in the safe and technologically advanced underground cities and the “New Primitives”, people who chose to live above ground. Why they chose to live above ground in the wastes is kind of a mystery, but it works for the plot of Rats: Night of Terror.
Rats: Night of Terror is the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love and… no wait, wrong movie. Rats: Night of Terror is about a group of the New Primitives, wandering the destroyed ruins of civilization. They come across a mostly intact part of a city and decide to do some scavenging.
Inside one of the buildings they find a huge cache of food as well as a greenhouse and even a water purification system. There are electric lights and a massive computer system all powered by… plot convenience it would appear. Anyway, to the survivors it seems as though they’ve found heaven in the hell that is Earth. The only catch is that they keep finding horribly mutilated bodies. Not dissuaded by the possibility of horrific death, the group settles in for the night.
As they sleep, they discover they are not alone in the building. There are also thousands of genetically modified rats. These rats are pretty smart. It also doesn’t help the human’s situation that they are pretty dumb. So the stage is set for the rats to begin picking off the survivors one-by-one. Can any of them survive…? Well actually yes. They drove into town in a bunch of Road Warrior leftover cars so, yeah, if they’d go outside and get in the cars and drive off, they could definitely survive. But, OK, for the plot’s sake we’ll ask it differently. Can any of them survive if they choose not to get in their cars and drive off? We’ll see….
Rats: Night of Terror is one of many spaghetti horror films that came out of Italy in the 70s and 80s. Westerns had gone out of style for the most part so the production companies turned to cranking out sci-fi and horror movies. This one is notable, if for no other reason than the city sets used in the film were left over from the production of Once Upon a Time in America.
The film is not high cinematic art. However, it does have its fun parts. The characters are all dressed in the stereotypical punk-rocker fashion that people in the 80s seemed to believe would be all the rage in the nuclear apocalypse. With character names like “Video”, “Taurus”, “Deus”, “Lucifer” and “Chocolate” (and yes they went there and named the black female character Chocolate) screenwriters Claudio Fragasso and Bruno Mattel (yes THE Bruno Mattel who wrote such classics as S.S. Extermination Love Camp and Hell of the Living Dead) didn’t waste a lot of time creating deep characters.
The film also features a whole lot of rats. They are everywhere in the film and I have to say, kudos to the production for finding some of the creepiest looking rats around. There is also no shortage of gory special effects in the film including rats inside bodies clawing their way out and wildly gnawed up corpses. But for every decent effect, there are scenes where they obviously just stuck a bunch of fake rats, or rat-shaped cut-outs on a blanket and pulled it along the floor over some lumps to simulate a horde of rats moving.
Still, Rats: Night of Terror has a certain, neo-punk, Italian horror movie, 80s hair kind of appeal to it. So if you’re looking for a fantastic Italian horror flick then check out Dario Argento’s 1977 classic Suspiria. If you’d like to watch a film full of not-too-bright, but incredibly good looking for the apocalypse survivors getting killed by rats, check out Rats: Night of Terror.