October 23, 2000

Of Unknown Origin (1983)

I don't find rats particularly scary. Maybe it's because I had a pet one when I was younger or maybe it's because little furry critters who like to run round on exercise wheels and eat sunflower seeds all day are hardly the epitome of evil (although the jury is still out on David Duchovny!).

I've seen a few rat movies in my time. There was "Willard", "Ben", "Deadly Eyes" (featuring small dogs disguised as rats, one of which sits up and begs!), ""Food of the Gods", and "The Rats". I've seen women scream at rats, men get covered in rats, even people eaten by rats... but I still can't understand how this is meant to be horror. Finding your pet frozen to death inside his little house in the shed during the worst winter Britain ever had was more traumatic for me... but I digressed.

Guess what? This 1983 film is about a man and a rat too. It is also not scary at all. I'm not saying that you won't enjoy it though but it isn't a horror film. I could leniently say it is a "horror spoof" but that would be to do the genre and this film a disservice.

From Amazon: "Bart Hughes (Peter Weller) has a pretty good life, a beautiful wife (Shannon Tweed), a young son, a good job with promotion prospects, and a renovated brownstone in New York. When wife and kid leave for a vacation, Bart stays behind to work on a project that will earn him that promotion, unaware that a certain inhabitant of his basement has other plans for his time. Bart goes a bit bonkers trying to kill this rat, destroying most of his house in the process. Certain allegorical elements tie the household conflict to the "rat race" in his office, but the main event is certainly the night-and-day contest of wills between man and rodent."

So you realise what this is now, don't you? It's "Moby Dick" but with a rat instead of a whale. It's on DVD now and it's worth watching if you want to see something a bit different.

Peter Weller does a great job as he gets more and more obsessed. It reminds me a lot of myself when I lose something and have to tear the house apart to find it before I can sleep... but that's another story.

Will it go into the video vault? Well, no, because it isn't any more a horror film than something like "Caddyshack". Actually thinking of "Caddyshack" reminds me that to some extent Bill Murray's obsession with the gopher is quite a lot like Peter Weller's with the rat here.
Of course, it could all have been over a lot sooner if Peter Weller had just donned his Robocop outfit... "Targetting... Rat Found... Crime in Progress... Target Locked... Engage Thermo-Nuclear Warhead... Fire!"

Now THAT is the film I would like to see!

My rating for this? (I think that should be "rat-ing"!) 5 out of 10. It's a bit dated now and some bits are too silly.

No comments:

Post a Comment