The Rats 2002 Movies about Rats Featured Image

Devoured by Vermin: Movies about Rats

Creepy and disturbing, movies about rats are not for everybody. We’re, after all, talking about rodents with an extremely bad reputation. It’s sometimes enough to just look at them and get that nauseating feeling in your stomach. We seem to be trained to be repulsed by them for a good reason. Same as with cockroaches, rats can carry diseases like bubonic plague and Hantavirus. As pests, they eat almost anything, destroying crops with ease and going through any available food supply. Here’s a fact that’s quite a nightmare-inducing: rats can swim up sewer pipes and into toilets. Something that appears a couple of times in movies on this list.

There are a lot of missed opportunities when you look at the list of these almost exclusively horror movies about rats. For example, The Mautam, an extremely interesting phenomenon occurring almost every fifty years in India didn’t make it in any of the movies. Ominously known as the Rat Flood, it unleashes armies of bamboo or black rats upon the rural villages that destroy everything in their path. Luckily, we managed to squeeze in another death metal reference, this time with a Cannibal Corpse classic. Hey, if they’re good for Ace Ventura, they’re good for Rabbit Reviews. 

One of the most intimidating and traumatic torture methods throughout history is the use of rats. Since the Dark Ages, prisoners were tortured by rats, usually by taking a bucket with rats inside, pressing it against the stomach, and then heating the bottom. This way rats would, to escape the heat, dig through the bowels of the victim causing unbearable physical and psychological pain. Something that Arya narrowly escapes in the fourth season of Game of Thrones. Several South American dictatorship used rats in torture as recently as 1985, expanding the methods to anal and vaginal insertion. I know this broke the mood of this list but I had to mention it. Let’s hope we’re over rat torture now. 

What we prepared for you is a complete list of all movies about rats. We will be skipping cartoons movies like Ratatouille or The Tale of Despereaux. We will also be skipping movies about cute mice or comedies like Mouse Hunt or The Witches. That leaves us with 32 blood-curdling movies that range from bizarre and funny over so-bad-they-are-good to gruesome and disturbing. To depict these daunting vermin, our filmmakers used real rats, puppets, CGI, people in rat suits and finally dogs in rat suits. Apart from rats we will also mention a couple of movies with nutria and shrews, visually similar rodents.

Honorable Mentions

In this section, we will be going over movies that do feature either regular rats or mutant rats but they are not main protagonists. From familiar and loveable characters like Splinter to gigantic mutated beasts, they are as diverse as they come. And probably marking the first time that Princess Bride and Braindead appear on the same list.

The Killer Shrews [1959]

And while shrews are not related to rats, they look awfully similar. The largest species can reach lengths about 15 cm (6 in), so these dog-sized ones look quite formidable. Breaking tradition from the usual nuclear-induced monstrosities, The Killer Shrews offers a classic tale of science experiments gone wrong. Our murderous critters are actually hilariously bad hand-puppets. And I wasn’t joking when I said that the shrews are dog-sized because for the wider shots they used coonhounds. This is a funny and entertaining B movie from another era perfect for making fun of. You can probably find out on YouTube or other streaming services. The sequel Return of the Killer Shrews was produced in 2012 and an intentional parody of the original Attack of the Killer Shrews in 2016. Both of them are awful.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

After first appearing in a comic book back in 1984, the adventures of four turtles and a giant rat, all mutated from a strange ooze, became world-famous after the release of the 1987 television show. As you probably guessed we will be focusing on Splinter, their wise but grotesquely-looking teacher. He shares a connection with Hamato Yoshi a Japanese martial arts master killed by his ancient enemy Oroku Saki also known as Shredder. I fondly remember my teenage years spent watching this fun and entertaining television show. Splinter here breaking some taboos, showing that despite gruesome looks you can still be a good guy. You know what I mean. There are five live-action movies available for your pleasure, three from the nineties and two modern ones. Out of all the movies about rats this is the only one where rats are presented in a positive light.

The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! [1972]

Behind this epic title is one of the weirder movies on this list. It’s about a family of werewolves trying to get rid of this ancient curse. The rats make their glorious entry about half-way in when Mr. Micawber sells them to one of the members of the family. These are not ordinary rats, however. These are trained rats who attack people at command and eat human flesh. After all, Mr. Micawber lost his arm and half of his face when they chewed through him one night. As you probably realized by now, this is an incredibly macabre and strange movie. There’s so much dialogue that’s almost all exposition and the story is just plain old weird. This is not in any way unusual for Andy Milligan movies. His interesting life is screaming for a biopic. So, if you’re in a mood for something completely different check it out.

The Princess Bride [1987]

If you were growing up during the nineties, you must have seen this charming fantasy movie directed by Rob Reiner. It’s based on William Goldman’s novel of the same name and follows Buttercup, a former farm girl who has been chosen as the princess bride and her adventures. One of them will lead her into a dangerous Fire Swamp inhabited by rodents of unusual size (ROUSes). And while the tone and sets were quite vibrant and relatively cheerful up until this point, they change dramatically when we meet Rouses.

They look positively terrifying, especially when you consider that this is basically a children’s movie. The practical effects were awesome with actors inside convincing rat suits. Danny Blackner, the guy inside the suit didn’t show up on the day they were filming the big scene where rats attack Westley. It turned out that he was jailed for speeding coming back from a bar as cops didn’t believe him he was an actor playing a rat in a suit.

Nightmares [1983]

Horror anthologies were quite popular in the eighties and Nightmares is one of the better ones. It features four terrifying stories out of which we will be covering the last one aptly titled Night of the Rat. In it, we follow an ordinary family as they start to realize something might be hiding in the walls of their house. Something big and nasty. Starring Veronica Cartwright (Alien, The Witches of Eastwick) and Richard Masur (The Thing, Risky Business), this is an effective albeit stereotypical short horror film. Relying on the suspenseful atmosphere we see the creature only during the somewhat ridiculous finale hampered by bad visuals. The presence of a small child makes things more intense and uncomfortable, especially since these are the eighties. A time when young kids were easily eaten or killed. Of Unknown Origin, one of the better movies about rats follows a similar story.

Nineteen Eighty-Four [1984]

Prophetic, brilliant, and incredibly important, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a movie that unfortunately accomplished almost nothing. We seem not to be able to stop ourselves and steer from the path we’re following as a society. A path inevitably ending with a totalitarian society or updated feudalism with enough distractions to keep the populace busy. Still, this is just a movie and not a fucking manual for a revolution, so I might be too hard on it. The reason why it’s included here is a very important scene when Winston is subjected to the final step in his rehabilitation process. It involves facing your worst fears and in Winston’s case, you can guess that he’s terrified of rats. The scene is really uncomfortable especially since the entire movie is very emotional and realistic. It’s always a good time to re-watch this timeless classic.

Terror in the Swamp [1985]

Well, if we reviewed a movie with shrews why not this 1985 horror featuring nutria. Set in the Louisiana swamps, it’s also a distinct eighties movie with a lot of fun fashion items, hairstyles, and anything else that marked this stylish decade. Trying to create the furriest nutria out there to get rich, two scientists create a monster that soon starts killing people. The abominable Nutriaman is rarely seen and the entire movie is actually pretty bad with a few redeeming qualities and loveable rednecks are one of them. This is another cheap production with wooden acting, lousy script, and practical effects. Depending on your taste and preferences it might be a movie so bad it’s good, especially if you like period movies. There’s only one way to find out…

Braindead AKA Dead Alive [1992]

I will use any excuse to get you to see this incredibly entertaining and gory horror/comedy written and directed by none other than Peter Jackson. It’s one of the movies that introduced me to this genre and I still remember the first time I watched it. Especially fun for the gorehounds, Braindead features one of the nasties and repulsive-looking creatures on this list: Sumatran Rat Monkey. This hybrid monstrosity was ushered into existence after some plague rats raped tree monkeys. Yeah, I know. The creature ends up in a New Zealand zoo where the story takes a sinister turn. We already recommended this masterpiece and you can read the full review here

Best Movies about Rats

Before I set out to write this list, I was familiar with just two movies about rats. As the old saying goes, where’s one rat there are 22 rats so we ended up with quite a lengthy list. A lot of them are movies so bad they are good with just several really good ones. As it is with all creature features, they offer a lot of fun and a familiar atmosphere. So, lay back, relax and let’s do this thing!

22. Tara AKA Hood Rat [2001]

Starring Isaiah Washington and Ice-T, this is an abysmally bad low-budget movie about a group of tenants terrorized by hordes of rats. The deadly rodents seem to be driven to destruction by someone and we soon discover that they are controlled by a vengeful Rat King. The authentic and dilapidated setting is one of the few redeeming qualities that Hood Rat has to offer. The ghetto seems like an appropriate place for a rat infestation but unfortunately, we will have to wait for a better movie to explore this subject adequately.

The special effects were laughable and the script poor as this was clearly some money-milking project. This was the time of the DVD expansion and with two big names and an intriguing concept, I can see how they thought this would be a decent addition to the genre of movies about rats. With a tighter script, better pacing (especially in the first half), and more gore, Hood Rat could have been a good movie. Even Washington and Ice-T couldn’t help it with their good performances.

21. Rat Scratch Fever [2011]

Made with an extremely low budget, Rat Scratch Fever is an entertaining rat movie made with a lot of love. The CGI is atrocious making those cheap SyFy movies look actually decent. The story, characters, and everything else is intentionally going for that campy and silly vibe, trying to make another so-bad-it’s-good-movie. Luckily, this one features almost non-stop action and a lot of gore. Our giant rats will tear Jake’s team limb from limb, literally. I loved the use of miniatures as they look much better than CGI.

This is also one of the rare science fiction movies on this list, taking place in the future on a distant planet and L.A. of course. Poking fun at all the big creature movies, Rat Scratch Fever can be a fun movie if you’re up for some indie Z-grade action. The script can be hilarious at times going over all the cliches from mostly creature features, you just need to get over the low-quality visuals. Once you’re there, you’ll even start to appreciate all the effort that went into this movie. I hope that writer/director Jeff Leroy will get some funding for his future projects.

20. Saikyôjû tanjô Nezura AKA Nezulla the Rat Monster [2002]

You really thought that there will be no Japanese movies on this natural horror list? Despite the amateurish editing and general outlook, the camerawork is relatively competent but we all know why we watch these movies. Nezulla doesn’t fuck around and we’re thrown into action quickly as a deadly virus mutates ordinary rats into a giant, human-sized monster. In the best tradition of these movies, a team of commandos is dispatched to deal with the monster. If you watched Power Rangers you’ll have a pretty good idea about this movie.

They are not shy with their creature and it will make numerous albeit humorous appearances. The music is horrifically mismatched but at least the sound effects are juicy. The sets range from decent to really lame and abandoned buildings. Nezulla plays like a cartoon. A pretty violent and bloody cartoon but a cartoon nonetheless. It’s a surreal experience as it clearly tried to copy the western cinema formula for the eighties and nineties creature features. When you add to this overacting and cultural differences you get a pretty watchable and bizarre movie about rats.

19. Big Freaking Rat [2020]

It would be really strange if a movie titled Big Freaking Rat wouldn’t make it on the list of movies about rats. This cheeky horror/comedy offers some fun although it’s ultimately a pretty bad movie. They were trying too hard to make a much more expensive and well-written movie and failed. You can try and guess what they were going for in each scene and why it didn’t work. From forced jokes and dialogue over exposition dumps to lame rat attacks, everything was clunky and dull. When it comes to acting, every scene features one person who was okay and one who really wasn’t. All this can help you have some fun while you wait for the next rat attack.

After a promising opening scene with a guy rocking a barrel full of toxic waste while trying to look like he actually smokes, Big Freaking Rat fizzed out. I was rooting for the rat to eat them all and couldn’t wait for it to appear on the screen. The rat wasn’t CGI’d but you’re going to wish it was because at least that way we would get another SyFy over-the-top insanity. This way we’re left with whatever this is. At least the visual quality is okay with decent camera work and directing. It almost made it to the movies so bad that they’re good section, but it could be a source of a few laughs.

18. Quella Villa in Fondo al Parco AKA Ratman [1988]

This uniquely bizarre Italian exploitation horror features just enough gore and nudity to persuade you to check it out. The real reason why you should do it are the zany dialogues, the preposterous story, and the sheer zest of our Italian filmmakers trying to make another B horror movie. The story takes place on an exotic island where a mad scientist brought into existence a creature that’s half-rat half-monkey. The abominable Ratman escapes from his cage and starts killing swimsuit models all around the island. With a relatively sluggish pace and a couple of dull scenes, Ratman can be boring at times. It’s one of the strangest movies about rats without a doubt.

Since this is the second movie with this monkey/rat combination, one has to wonder why is that? I also really don’t know how they persuaded Nelson de la Rosa, the world’s shortest man, to star in this movie. His appearance might be too much for some of the viewers so if you’re one of them, better skip this one. This casting choice was in such bad taste that I still can’t wrap my head around it. Pure exploitation insanity. However, apart from the initial shock, his attacks here are actually more likely to induce laughter than terror. What’s done is done and Ratman entered movie history as another eighties oddity.

17. Altered Species AKA Rodentz [2001]

Sometimes we watch movies because they remind us of a certain time in our life. Altered Species is such a turn-of-the-century movie that it will take you back to that time immediately. Pierced navels, low-cut jeans and metal-ball necklaces will transport you to a different time as we follow our merry band on their way to a party. A party that takes place in the same building where serious scientific experiments are taking place. Experiments that will go horribly wrong. I wish they had the money to play Britney Spears hit Toxic as it fits so well with the story and timeline.

Altered Species features decent sets, a little bit of suspense, some nudity and a lot of rats. The camerawork was decent most of the time, although there were a couple of those dreaded shaky shots. One of the highlights of the movie is a giant rat played by a guy in a rat suit. It will bring back fond memories of our Japanese monstrosity Nezulla. Overall, with wobbly pacing and laughable special effects, Rodentz could be boring for some of our rat fans. However, I can also see how it’s immensely entertaining for some. The choice is yours.

16. Ratten 2 – Sie Kommen Wieder! [2004]

After Japanese and Italian movies about rats, it’s time for some of that German strict structure. As one of the mandatory entries on our natural horror lists, this German television movie is actually a sequel to obviously successful Ratten – Sie Werden Dich Kriegen! If you check out both of them, you will get a sense of what Germans find funny or entertaining. It features the same structure and production levels as the original with a bit more tongue-in-cheek vibe. I mean the movie starts with a young and handsome girl taking bath when all of a sudden rats start appearing and attacking her.

All this can mean only one thing, there’s going to be another plague and our intrepid duo whom you might remember from the original, Frank and Katrin, will have to prevent it again. The special effects are decent, television-quality to be more precise, making a whole experience much smoother. The story is this time set in a small German village that looks like Dracula might be hiding in it, a refreshing change from the busy streets of Frankfurt. It also features some surprising twists and turns.

15. Ratten – Sie Werden Dich Kriegen! [2001]

It’s not surprising that the original Ratten is a better movie than the 2003 sequel. If you decide to check it out you will witness the power of German television production. The cinematography, editing, and camerawork are much better than your average rat movie. You can, however, expect the same drivel of a story with all the usual cliches. There’s a certain sense of security and comfort watching stereotypical movies with different creatures. Luckily, the pacing was quite good and Ratten might just keep your attention.

During the hottest summer in the last 150, the city of Frankfurt is in big trouble. With most of the sanitary workers on strike, an unseen menace is multiplying below the city streets. Young and spunky doctor Katrin and scruffy Frank will have to find a way to stop this rat infestation. Despite the somewhat grandiose start, towards the end, the movie turns more into a personal drama than a creature feature. The special effects are surprisingly good for a movie of this caliber. Finally, why are all the female actors beautiful and males look like they crawled from a sewer remains a mystery?

14. Mulberry St [2006]

It took a while but we finally have our first rat zombie movie on this list of movies about rats. Mulberry St is a distinctly New York movie with the story focusing on the tight-knit community of tenants about to be evicted from an old apartment building. Soon, plague-carrying rats start biting people turning them into flesh-craving rat-zombies. We follow Clutch, an ex-boxer anxiously awaiting his daughters’ visit as he’s trying to help the other tenants amidst this chaos.

Released by After Dark Films, Mulberry St made quite a splashback in 2006. And for a good reason too, as it features well-developed characters, engaging storytelling, and an immersive atmosphere. Not to mention these fucking rat zombies. Made on a low budget and with a lot of effort and tricks, this is an effective little horror. The cast was comprised of friends and family of the crew shooting without permits on the busy streets of Manhattan. You have to respect that kind of dedication.

13. Rats – Notte di terrore AKA Night of Terror [1984]

This is the second Italian exploitation movie on this list as move from the sunny tropical island to a bleak post-apocalyptic environment. We follow a biker gang that stumbles upon a seemingly abandoned building and deciding to spend the night there. You can guess what’s going to happen under the cover of darkness. Directed by the uncrowned king of exploitation Bruno Mattei, this is a sturdy eighties horror with great cinematography, editing, and sets. The soundtrack is excellent along with the basic premise of the movie.

The dialogue and the plot are, however, different story. Unintentionally funny, non-pc friendly, and just plain odd, they are a source of so much great fun. All of our protagonists have cool names like Taurus, Deus, Lillith, and Video with the only black actress in the movie called Chocolate. We have full-frontal male and female nudity and decent amounts of gore. Our disinterested, normal-sized rats have been through a lot in this movie. They’ve been thrown, kicked, and even set on fire, making this quite a troublesome experience.

12. Ben [1972]

The sequel to probably the best-known movie about rats, Willard, is one tedious affair. As soon as I saw that the story is going to revolve around the relationship between troublesome rat Ben from the original movie and a young boy called Danny, I knew this is going to be a boring movie. Sure, we have a few violent deaths caused by rats, obligatory flame thrower scenes, and a decent story but I expected more. Danny is played by Lee Montgomery who was great giving an almost adult performance. He was still a bit annoying with all the singing, showcasing his many talents.

The scenes with rats were amazing and they are one of the reasons why you might wanna check out Ben. Over 4000 rats were trained and used in these scenes and they look positively terrifying. Building on the success of the original they were aiming for a trilogy with the concept changing to general rat destruction. Our nasty rodents will destroy supermarkets, houses, and a health spa with ease. More charming than scary, Ben is a flawed movie with a couple of oddities like Michael Jackson’s theme song “Ben’s Song”, one of his favorites by the way, and a homoerotic relationship between the detectives.

11. Rats AKA Killer Rats[2003]

After seeing what the German television movie has to offer us it’s time to see an American one. Trying to find out more about The Brookdale Institute, a mysterious drug rehab facility, spunky reporter Samantha decides to infiltrate it. Posing as a drug addict, she finally gets inside only to find out that the patients have been mysteriously disappearing almost every night. Killer Rats features a story full of plot-holes, useless character development, and some suspense. Something that comes as surprise since it was written by Boaz Davidson, a man who worked on a lot of great funny animal attack movies.

There are a couple of nightmarish and scary scenes with rats coming from the walls. I will leave them for you to discover as they are quite original and creatively terrifying. The setting was also decent giving off haunted and creepy insane asylum vibes. I also liked the big mamma rat as the regular CGI rats looked pretty bad. This was an interesting angle that wasn’t explored as a lot of character development. Directed by Tibor Takács, who went on to work on several SyFy monster flicks, this is an average turn-of-the-century straight-to-DVD B horror movie. As such, it might be mildly entertaining if you’re a fan of the genre.

10. The Food of the Gods [1976]

Following the great tradition of ordinary animals turning into giant monsters, this is an immensely entertaining B movie. You’ll be rolling on the floor laughing pretty quickly as the giant mosquitos attack around the five-minute mark with giant chickens sealing the deal a couple of minutes later. The special effects are actually pretty good and fit in quite well with the rest of the movie. I also liked the sudden bursts of action that make things even more hilarious. This is a Bert I. Gordon movie, a man known for his giant animal movies earning him a nickname Mr. BIG. We already covered his hit Empire of the Ants in our movies about ants.

The story takes place on a remote island where some kind of food mysteriously appears in the forest. Any living thing that eats this food of the gods will start growing in size. And that can cause quite a few problems. Starring charismatic and unintentionally Marjoe Gortner, whose performance and hairstyle from Starcrash is still making me laugh every time I remember it, this is a fun movie with a couple of pretty nasty scenes. Those leeches looked hideously repulsive, unlike our main baddies rats. They were quite nice looking and despite several scenes where it seems they were injured, most of them were just fined. They used high-intensity squirts of fake blood to achieve the effect, a testament to the art of practical special effects.

9. Gnaw: Food of the Gods II [1989]

This eighties hilarity has almost nothing to do with the original movie, released some thirteen years earlier. Both movies are so bad they are good and they feature some of the same special effects. The story, setting, and pretty much everything else is completely different. Gnaw is a brutal and at the same time very entertaining and silly movie. There’s a lot of gore and brutal murders with our rats feeding on people most appallingly. This is mixed with insane story developments, a horribly mismatched soundtrack, and cliched dialogue. A perfect movie to fucked up and have some fun.

Several different stories are unfolding at the same time anchored by Neil Hamilton, a young scientist trying to find a cure for a super-effective growth hormone. We also have some C.L.I.T. forerunners fighting for animal rights, a creepy giant boy imprisoned in a mansion, Neil’s romance brewing and all the while the giant rats are causing all sorts of trouble. I loved how he just casually grabbed his M-16 rifle and a huge gun determined to kill the rats. What more to want? Oh year, I also forgot to mention the grand finale as unhinged and absurd as you would expect it to be. After all, we’re talking about The First Annual Synchronized Swimming Championship.

8. Deadly Eyes [1982]

Starting like some of the best fifties monster movies with a lot of rat facts, Deadly Eyes is a decent Canadian movie about a city overrun with huge rats. This is not surprising as this movie is based on a book albeit very loosely. One of the best things about Deadly Eyes is the rats themselves. They used dachshunds in rat suits and they look pretty believable. Still, it’s funny to look at these scenes and think about adorable these charming little wieners swarming people. This might be one of the cutest movies about rats.

Adorably zany eighties story about an apparently irresistible high school teacher Paul and his romance with a health department inspector, Kelly, is pretty heartwarming. They were going for that mix of frights and entertainment too hard at times. We have pretty bloody scenes fast-cut with a guy playing golf in his office. Freaking eighties man. You can also see how dating worked back then. You go for a jog, meet someone, come home, find them in the phonebook, give them a call, and before you know it, nipples start getting sucked. Easy peasy Canadesy.

7. The Dark [1993]

As one of three Canadian movies about rats, The Dark features likable characters, a good script, and a pitch-perfect tone. This what Big Freaking Rat was trying to do, create that mixture of lively atmosphere and over-the-top action. It starts as any self-respecting B movie would, with a guy drinking a bottle of whiskey alone at the cemetery next to his wife’s grave. And it’s raining, of course. Sudden screams break his brooding and just before he’s shot by a detective he sees something resembling a huge rat in the dark. It will turn out (oouuutt) that our guy is actually a scientist who drives a Harley and knows karate. He’s on a mission to find out what was that creature he saw.

Shot in 1993, The Dark is an unmistakably eighties movie. Everything from the atmosphere to the way the story develops and how characters are built is very similar to so many movies from this decade. And don’t get me started on the soundtrack. The only sign that we’re in the nineties is the piano that replaced saxophone during sex scenes. The Dark also took advantage of its eerie and inherently creepy setting as we’re trying to find out what’s lurking under the graveyard. Stephen McHattie was excellent as the super-macho scientist along with Brion James (Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, 48 Hrs.) as the detective. We will also have the opportunity to see young Neve Campbell in one of her first roles.

6. Burial of the Rats [1995]

This Roger Corman production took some liberties adapting the 1914 Bram Stokers’ story of the same name. You can actually read the original short story here. The setting is eerily reminiscent of his much more famous novel Dracula as we follow a young Stoker who gets captured by a coven of rat-worshiping witches. They steal from the rich and fight against the patriarchy. It doesn’t take long for us to see half-naked ladies and once we see them, they remain on the screen ’till the end of the movie. By the time you get to the grand finale, you won’t even be noticing their leather swimming suits and thongs.

The cast of this movie was surprisingly good, including our protagonist played by Kevin Alber. These beautiful women not only look good but they can act too! After the initial shock of the Amazon rat-worshiping coven wears off, the story gets pretty decent. We get an honest view of life back then and why the coven despises men and rich people. For example, a visit to a brothel with a 12-year-old prostitute stayed with me. We are truly despicable and amoral creatures. With well-choreographed sword fights, good pacing, and a runtime of just over seventy minutes, The Burial of the Rats is an engaging and fun movie.

5. Of Unknown Origin [1983]

Can a movie that starts with a beautiful and naked blonde taking a shower to be bad? To make things funnier, this is the second movie that starts like that on this list. Before he was struggling with cockroaches, Peter Weller starred in Of Unknown Origin, a psychologic thriller based on a novel by Chauncey G. Parker III. We follow an ambitious businessman Bart Hughes as he spirals out of control trying to catch and kill a huge rat in his house. With his wife and kid away he gets consumed and locked into this battle. The movie successfully builds a very intense and suspenseful atmosphere helped immensely by Weller’s compelling performance.

The main concept of male obsession with some household tasks should be all too familiar to most viewers. The opportunity to give in to primal instincts and have this sense of clear purpose where you’re faced with physical tasks describes the downfall of male identity in the eighties. Bart built this house with his hands and now it’s sieged by this devious and vigorous creature. The way they filmed the rat is ingenious and it stood the test of time along with phenomenal camerawork. The dialogue sometimes feels contrived, especially when it’s about business along with casual racial slurs. Finally, you have an opportunity to see how analog Internet research worked with our homeboy reading magazines, watching documentaries and slides.

4. Willard [2003]

This is one of the most popular movies about rats and for a good reason too. Featuring probably the best special effects, both practical and animated, Willard is a quirky comedy/horror with a Tim Burton vibe. It’s loosely based on the novel Ratman’s Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert, same as the 1971 movie of the same name. And while the seventies movie was more eccentric and peculiar, this is a straight-forward almost parody of the familiar story. We follow Willard, a timid and strange man tending to his aging and sick mother as his belligerent boss keeps bullying him. He befriends a white rat seeking refuge from all of the troubles in the cellar of the house. Things escalate from there.

The casting was excellent with Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey giving pitch-perfect performances. I should also mention that Ben is played by a giant Gambian pouched rat, a species that can reach 18 inches in size (50 cm). He’s one nasty-looking rodent, especially when Willard grabs him by the tail. Inherently creepy this is mostly a stylish character study that doesn’t dwell on the negatives but embraces them and makes them even exciting. The other part of the story is a fixation on the adventures of Willard and his rat pack. It’s so nice that we have two different visions of basically the same tale.

3. Willard [1971]

The emotional and almost surreal style of storytelling built the characters extremely well. You simply don’t know where this story is going when the movie starts, so I recommend you first watch this movie and then 2003 one. As I get older and learn more about life and personality disorders the more I find that the root of most problems can be traced to mommy issues. They fuck up men so easily that it’s fucking scary. But I digress. Watching this movie half a century after the initial release I can tell it doesn’t feel outdated. It explores a lot of issues, especially about our society and identity. A corporate environment and old tribal system of values with defined roles and activities for males and females are some of them.

Despite the seriousness and the fact this is basically a drama, Willard has a pretty cheerful and even vibrant atmosphere. The events occur and unfold naturally and the pacing is just right. Bruce Davison, whom you might know as Senator Kelly from X-Men (the guy in chopper who turned into water), gave one hell of a performance. Opposite of him we have a sleazy and more life-affirming but still obnoxious Martin played by the legend Ernest Borgnine. This underrated and almost noir thriller moves at a slower pace leaving you enough time to ponder all the questions it raises. Definitely the most intellectual entry on this list.

2. Graveyard Shift [1990]

The only reason why this movie isn’t first is the fact we’re dealing with a hybrid creature, part-rat, and part-bat. Also featured on our movies about the bats‘ list, Graveyard Shift is an effective B horror based on a short story by none other than Stephen King. It follows a group of workers in an old textile mill infested with rats as they try to clean it up with disastrous consequences. Very visceral and with a foreboding atmosphere, the movie resembles Jaws regarding the creature. Speaking of which, it looks really gruesome and more like a rat than a bat. The sets were also awesome, authentic, and gritty.

Starring David Andrews as John Hall we will also have an opportunity to see two horror movie legends Brad Dourif and Andrew Divoff. It’s strange to see a movie of this genre focusing more on the characters and the social setting than on flashy visuals. The workers are exploited by the mill owner and there’s constant tension among them with the usual derogatory attitude towards female workers. Combined with a suspenseful atmosphere, I’d say we got the most out of this relatively low-budget movie.

1. The Rats [2002]

I know that most of the movies about rats aficionados would put some of the Willards this high up the list but I would like to bring your attention to this underrated gem from 2002. Not to be confused with a similarly titled Rats that was released one year later, this is an unashamedly entertaining B movie. It knows what it is and sets up the tone perfectly. The atmosphere is very entertaining and vibrant with pitch-perfect pacing. I mean, The Rats opens with a scene where an attractive girl is trying out revealing outfits in Garsons Department Store. Almost nude, wearing only tiny panties, she’s attacked by a rat, a sign of trouble to come. The store hires a surprisingly professional exterminator and as the romance between him and the store’s manager brews so does the rat population…

The dialogue is snappy, flowing naturally with a couple of hilarious exchanges. When you add to that lovable characters and surprising gore you get a pretty compelling movie. We get to see some original and nasty scenes featuring rat attacks. The special effects are good and believable making The Rats a thoroughly enjoyable rat extravaganza. The movie is visually appealing after all this time, a testament to the effort of everyone involved here. It’s something that all those SyFy movies tried to be and failed miserably. Just give it a chance and you’ll see what I’m talking about.