In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rattus Rattus

A relatively untapped horror subgenre is the killer/giant rat movie. I would imagine the easy explanation is that the money and time involved in making such a picture doesn’t really lend itself to the concept of low budget filmmaking. Slap a mask on someone and have them chase around nubile young vixens and you have a slasher flick. A zombie effort can be made with some blood and fake contacts. However, bringing believable rats – giant or otherwise - to the screen requires a bit more moxie. Continuing with Rat Week here at The Horror Section, is a special vermin themed Coverbox Wednesday.

This is the one playing at Trash Palace this Friday.

That last one wasn’t at my store, but has a story attached to it. Before Major Video became my video retailer of choice and eventual place of employment, my town had a Jumbo Video. Jumbo had a whole bunch of things going for it. There was free popcorn to eat while you browsed, a huge wide-open layout and the odd format of paying when you returned a movie, not when you took it out. Much to everyone’s surprise I’m sure, is that the real selling point for me was the horror section. Though not as tucked away as some porn sections are, it was nestled in a separate room. It had two large archways leading into it and the exterior walls were painted to look like a castle, complete with painted skulls. It was pretty awesome. This section had a great selection of off-the-wall titles, including the above Rats: Night Of Terror. I don’t think I’ve seen it since my initial viewing, but it will always stick with me. It had that intangible quality that a lot of those moldy old Euro-trash titles from the eighties have. That declaration of “we have no money, but we’re going to make sure you remember us!” If I had to put a tag on it, I’d say it’s half Road Warrior, half Return Of The Living Dead - but with rats instead of zombies. I think Anchor Bay have actually released a cleaned up DVD, so I might just have to take a trip to 225 A.B. Though, you always have to be careful with revisiting crusty movies like that from your childhood. Sometimes the memory is better than the reality. I’m pretty sure a second viewing of Night Of A Thousand Cats (another Jumbo title) would not likely be as entertaining as it was when my Dad and I watched it circa 1988.

Finding local video stores that carried movies like these was a big deal for me in my formative years. I grew up in a suburb outside of Toronto; so the thirty-minute drive it took to get downtown might as well have been a million miles when I was a kid. I didn’t have access to places like Queen and the legendary Suspect until I was well into my twenties. That’s why when I discovered them; it was like finding the Lost City of Atlantis. I was now able to actually see the movies that I’d been hearing samples of in Skinny Puppy tunes for years.

Oops. I went down a memory lane tangent again. Sorry if that was all gibberish. For the minute few of you who were actually feelin’ that, I’m sure you’re smiling on the inside right now.


Anonymous said...

OMG...f*cking gawd!! How are there so many movies about rats?? ICK!!!

Thanks for the Unknown Origin mention....I hope you enjoyed it!

Are you going to write about Mulberry Street by any chance? ;)

Jay Clarke said...

haha.... Yeah, I'm trying to fit Mulberry in somewhere... I should mention it, considering it's the only modern rat movie that I know of. Apart from that TV Movie with Madchen Amick, of course.