Thursday, March 11, 2010

Forgotten 80's gem:Of Unknown Origin

From 1983 and I believe this debuted on the old-old sci-fi channel,all I remember is watching this on VHS as a kid with my best friend and for some reason this movie always scared the crap out of me. I always thought there was a rat in my basement or under my bed and to this day and this is true I always put the toilet seat down when I'm done.
This stars Peter Weller as Bart Hughes, a successful NYC business man with a chance for a big promotion only to be sidetracked and eventually obsessed with a rat that has made Bart's NYC brownstone which he personally renovated himself his own personal playground as he chews through wires,shreds up pillows,Bart's work and anything else it can.With his wife and kid away visiting her parents Bart completely unravels and wages a one on one war with this rat.The rat constantly outsmarts Bart,doesn't fall for the traps and doesn't take the poison.The rat almost takes his private part off as he comes up from the toilet one night,slips into his bed,attacks Bart numerous times,including one time in the boiler room,kills his poor cat and makes Bart start to lose his mind.These attacks are all quite vicious and the way they are done really make the film quite scary.All this time Bart is completey distracted from work and coworkers begin to think something is off with him.Some other funny part include him talking with a neighborhood rat expert and my personal favorite at the business dinner when Bart starts randomly spewing out rat facts one after another(how Rats can eat through lead and concrete,how a rat can wriggle through a hole the size of a quarter and so on) Some of the shots in this movie are done really well,they never show too much of the rat itself,they show his slimey feet,his big teeth and its beedy eyes and also upon further viewing I discovered a few scenes where Bart is walking around and you see the rats tail slowly slide out of the picture.They also use POV shots from the rat itself which is a nice little touch.Being back in the 80's,they use real footage of a rat at different angles and what not,no cgi or anything.The photography in the brownstone is done amazingly well and the music itself is very eery and unsettling.The rat also has a terrifying shriek which is diplayed numerous times throughout the film. The conclusion of this film features Bart decked out in a helmet,with a flashlight attached to it,wielding homemade bat with nails and traps stuck to it,and wearing shinpads and cleats as he completey destroys his home in a battle against the rat.
What made this fim work so well besides the scares and photography was Weller's performance.He really nails it as a successful business man who becomes almost a completely different person.Weller is very quirky but likable and has a great knack at subtle humor(ex:"You never said anything about rubber gloves, you boneheaded fart,"Watch and weep, you furry fucker" and "Keep it up.Just keep it up. I've got friends in Jersey".He also was very believable and I even started to feel for this poor guy. The film also introduced us to Shannon Tweed,and man she was even more the looker back then,my jaw dropped seeing her so young and hot in this as compared to her later softcore days where she still looked good.
A modern day Moby Dick with bite!Is it horror?in my book it is,though it had humorous parts and lines it is still quite creepy and graphic.Better than Gnaw or the remake of Williard or even food of the gods,better need to check out this 80's gem.
Random real rat facts
-Rats transmit Murine typhus fever
-Rats often chew electrical cables
26% of all electric cable breaks and 18% of all phone cable disruptions are caused by rats
-Rats can fall 20 feet without being injured
-25% of all fires of unknown origin are rat-caused
-Rats multiply so quickly that in 18 months, two rats could have over a million descendants
-Male and female rats may have sex twenty times a day
-Rats destroy an estimated 1/3 of the world’s food supply each year

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