Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso, 1984
Starring: Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Geretta Geretta, Massimo Vanni
"Computers and corpses are a bad mixture."
What would it be like if you combined The Thing, Mad Max and Food of the Gods? It would be exactly like Rats: Night of Terror aka Notte di terrore, particularly if you throw in a low budget and inept actors. There are a ton of Italian post-apocalyptic films, so I’m not really surprised that someone thought to blend it with the animals attack sub-genre. I’m also not surprised that that person was Bruno Mattei, the man responsible for such trash as SS Extermination Love Camp (1977), The Other Hell (1980), Porno Holocaust (1981, co-directed with Joe D’Amato), Caged Women (1983), Zombi 3 (1988, co-directed with Lucio Fulci), and many more.
In 2015 (we’re almost there!), motorcycle-riding survivors of a nuclear holocaust find a strange village full of mutilated corpses. It is relatively comfortable, provides shelter and has a large food supply, fruit trees and clean water, so they decide to stay the night. As the title is Night of Terror, it obviously doesn’t go very well. It turns out to be an elaborate trap set up by a horde of genetically altered, super intelligent rats ready to feast on human flesh.
Rats: Night of Terror is not a good film, but anyone who loves trashy Italian movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s absolutely needs to see it. Ottaviano Dell’Acqua (he’s been an extra in a ton of Italian ‘80s films) stars as Kurt. I don't have a lot of positive things to say about Dell'Acqua or the rest of the cast. There are shoot-outs, temper tantrums, people getting eaten by rats and a variety of other things, but there is not really any of what I would call acting. The characters also all make incredibly stupid decisions, simply to propel the plot forwards and lead them towards certain death. This is exactly what one should expect from a Mattei film. The dubbing, another critical element of '80s Italian horror, doesn’t do anyone any favors and adds to the hilarity.
Speaking of hilarious, the rat effects are just... Words fail me. Some are unbelievable, like the famous scene where a rat crawls into a girl’s sleeping bags, eats its way through her and comes out of her mouth. But a lot of the film involves rats sitting around the room while the actors stand in place and scream in terror. Buckets of rats are dumped on the actors, rats are thrown through the air, etc. I think some of these are rubber stand-ins, but many of them seem to be real rats. Really cute rats.
As I said, fans of trashy Italian horror should definitely check this out. There’s some nudity, sex, gore, a decent score, and, against all odds, the film manages to be really entertaining and ends on a pretty insane note. Fortunately Rats: Night of Terror is available on DVD. It was initially released by Anchor Bay as part of the cheap “Man’s Worst Friends” horror box set, though this edition is out of print. Blue Underground came to the rescue and re-released it in a somewhat nicer edition.