MORE FUCKED UP FUTURES: Rats: The Night of Terror (1984)

In the Christian year 2015, the insensitivity of man finally triumphs and hundreds of atomic bombs devastate all five continents. Terrified of 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 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 humans 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 year 225 A.B. (After the Bomb)

Rats the Night of Terror begins with a punk gang investigating a mysterious town. Let’s meet the folks we’re going to spend the next 105 minutes with. Kurt and Taurus (Massimo Vanni, Warriors of the Wasteland) share the leadership responsibilities, but Duke really wants to take over. Then there’s Chocolate (Geretta Geretta from Demons), a poorly named black woman who gets flour all over herself and dances around while yelling, “I’m whiter than you!” Obviously Italian directors in 1984 were not yet “woke.” Lucifer and Lilith are, of course, a couple. At least she has plenty of fashion sense, traveling through the end of days wearing a cape and fedora. Noah is the resident genius, while Video is an expert at video games. Yep, that’s why they brought him along, despite the fact that there are no video games left. Deus has a shaved head with a strange symbol, is given to mystic rantings and has on one of The Warriors’ vests. Finally, we have Diana, who wears a studded headband and is the girlfriend of Barry Gibb lookalike Kurt, and Myrna, whose scream is ready to reduce your eardrums to quivering masses of cartilage.

Surprisingly, the gang finds plenty of food in this town. Of course, they also discover plenty of mutilated bodies and lots of rats. But at least the town looks nice, maybe because it’s the same set as Once Upon a Time in America.

Why aren’t the rats eating the food? Look, this was written and directed by Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso, so you better be ready to throw logic into the cold, dead void of space. What else can you expect from the team that brought you Zombie 3, The Other Hell, Robowar and Emanuelle Escapes from Hell? And you may also know Fragasso from another film that makes perfect sense, Troll 2. Just like that film, which has nothing to do with the movie it succeeds, this was billed as the third part of Enzo G. Castellari’s Bronx Warriors series. Again — check logical storytelling at la porta.

Luckily for our heroes, they discover a hydroponic growing system that’s made the kindest bud ever known to man. Just kidding — the crops are fruit, vegetables and plants, along with purified water.

Night falls and everyone goes to sleep in the same room. Lilith and Lucifer have sex while everyone else either watches or performs their signature character move, such as polishing a guitar or meditating. Our young lovers get stuck in their sleeping bag while everyone laughs at them, using that hearty guffaw that only Italian dubbed voices can perform. Lilith ends up deciding not to have any more sex — her Southern accent is beyond reproach — and Lucifer stalks off, while she zips herself back into that troublesome sleeping bag.

That’s when our merry band discovers that while they may have dressed for a Road Warrior ripoff, they took a wrong turn at Barter Town and ended up in a slasher film.

Even after the bombs drop, you should know better than to have sex in one of these affairs. That means we can cross off our demonically named couple. He just falls into a hole of rats whereas she gets stuck in that cursed sleeping bag as rats climb in. When the rest of the crew discovers her, a rat climbs out from her mouth in a scene that’s sure to make you either laugh uncontrollably, puke out your last meal or some combination thereof.

I just had a flash — the way everyone is dressed in this film, including Kurt in his white shirt and red ascot, it’s as if the Scooby Gang tried to escape New York. The costumes in this film are fabulous! Good work, Elda Chinellato!

This film sets new standards for rats killing humans. How did they achieve such special effects? One assumes that someone was off camera, just tossing rodents at the unfortunate cast. Well, one doesn’t have to assume, because that’s pretty much exactly what happened, PETA be damned.

Meanwhile, Noah gets attacked by rats, so they decide to scare the rodents off with a flamethrower. Bad idea, unless you enjoy barbecuing your friends. Then, they discover that the rats have eaten their tires off of their motorcycles. How did they do such a thing? What do you mean they cut the power? How could they cut the power, man? They’re animals!

Myrna continues to scream at any and every opportunity while our heroes barricade themselves into the building and wonder, “Has there ever been worse dubbing in a film?” No, my friends. No, there has not. Instead of just asking you rhetorically to imagine the diseases a rat can give you, this film lists them at length.

Who is the biggest enemy? Duke or the rats? Well, Duke may be shooting at them with a machine gun, but he hasn’t eaten anyone from within yet. The good guys keep giving Duke chance after chance, even after he’s more than proved that he’s a ne’er do well. Eventually, he blows himself and Myrna up real good.

Diana just can’t take it any longer, so she slits her wrists. Then, Video learns that the building they’re hiding in was an experimental station for something called Return to Light. Not “Remain In Light.” That’s a Talking Heads record. Also, the rats are super intelligent and see this place as an affront. ”This is worse than being dead,” says Kurt, while he sashays in his little pirate costume.

Have you ever thought, “It must be really fun to be an actor?” Then you weren’t in this movie. For the entire running time, giant piles of rats are poured everywhere and anywhere and on just about everyone.

The rats finally try to break the door down to the control room and all hell breaks loose. Meanwhile, these guys in yellow hazmat suits and masks from The Crazies start walking through the streets.

Deus is killed by Myrna’s corpse and even Kurt is killed by a bunch of rats that fly at him from every angle. Video and Chocolate are then saved by the people in the hazmat suits, who have been gassing all of the rats.  

Here’s where Rats: The Night of Terror unveils its shock ending. The hazmat guys are the people from Delta 2. Chocolate then says to one of her rescuers, ““Once, someone told me they read in a book that we all lived on the Earth together, that we were all brothers. The book was called the Bible, and it said that God created man and animals.” The leader of the men takes off his mask and he’s no man at all — he’s a human rat!

It’s a twist ending that isn’t explained and doesn’t make any sense at all! It would be like Peyton Farquhar shat his pants at the end of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge instead of getting lynched!

Rats: The Night of Terror isn’t a good movie. But it’s a great movie. A movie that you can tell people about and they’ll say, “That’s not a real movie.” But it is. It totally is.

This article originally appeared in Drive-In Asylum Issue 10.

8 thoughts on “MORE FUCKED UP FUTURES: Rats: The Night of Terror (1984)”

  1. […] 33. Zombie Creeping Flesh: Also known as Hell of the Living Dead, Nights of the Zombies, Dusk of the Dead and Virus, this Bruno Mattei directed film — written by the husband and wife duo of Claudio Fragrasso and Rossella Drudi — was supposed to present the lighter side of zombies. One thing I can tell you for sure — Goblin’s soundtrack is completely ripped off from their past films, including Contamination and Dawn of the Dead. It also has documentary footage taken from New Guinea, Island of Cannibals just to add some more zip. You can watch this on Amazon Prime or on a double disc from Blue Underground, along with the fantastic Rats: The Night of Terror. […]

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