Straight out of the gate: How does a tough-looking bike gang get bested by a bunch of rats? Um, hello? They're not just any old rats, they're super intelligent rats. Okay, while that sounds like a good excuse, it's still pretty flimsy considering the fact that your so-called leader is carrying around a flamethrower. And I don't care how smart the rats may be, a flamethrower will always defeat a rat. In case it isn't obvious yet, the rat vs. flamethrower scenario I'm describing appears in Rats: Night of Terror, another frustratingly awesome film from Bruno Mattei (Private House of the SS), the master when it comes to things are...frustratingly awesome. Interesting. I've heard of things being called "awesome" before, but never "frustratingly awesome." If that's true, than it's obvious that you have never experienced a Bruno Mattei film. As with the majority of his work, the characters that populate his thinly defined realms are stupid beyond belief. And, yes, while watching them make one bad decision after another can be quite entertaining, their sheer incompetence can also be a tad–yeah, you guessed it–frustrating. However, unlike say, Hell of the Living Dead or Women's Prison Massacre (films that feature at least one character who has a brain that functions to a certain degree), the folks in Rats are idiots across the board. I'm not joking, even their so-called leader was a dolt. The only logical explanation I think of is that their headbands were tied too tight. But then again, only a handful of them were actually wearing headbands. How about this: Their stupidity stemmed from the fact that they have been drinking radioactive water their entire lives. Yeah, I like that, as it makes a hell of a lot more sense than that headband theory you were bandying about a couple of seconds ago. Actually, my tight headband theory would have held water had the leader of the bike gang (a bike gang who have two armoured cars at their disposal) at the centre of this post-apocalyptic rat tale worn a headband. But alas, he did not wear one. It's his loss, really. I mean, the headband not only keeps your hair out of your eyes (there a no beauty salons in this rat infested hellscape), but they also absorb the sweat you'll surely be sweating while wielding a flamethrower in a subterranean environment.
It has recently come to my attention that if you took away half the stupid decisions that are made throughout this idiotic entreprise, you wouldn't have much of a movie. But did it have to be this stupid? C'mon, guys. You're a bike gang. Act like one. Sure, living in the year 225 A.B. (After the Bomb) can be stressful, but three of you have beards for god's sake. Beards! And according to my eighth grade gym teacher, men with beards are tough as nails. It's true, the nails I'm a referring to are poorly produced and unreliable when the chips are down. But they're still nails.
My doubts pertaining to this bike gang's toughness were cast early on when they fail run over a couple of large lizards sunning themselves in the middle of a dirt road. Personally, I respected the fact they didn't kill the reptiles needlessly, as it showed they were compassionate. However, from the perspective of a person whose job it is to judge the toughness of bike gangs for a living, I thought their decision to not squish the lizards was a flawed one.
After a lengthy crawl explaining the backstory of this post-apocalyptic world, we meet a gang of "new primitives," surface dwellers who got tired of living underground. Travelling via motorcycle (some equipped with sidecars), dirt bikes, and armoured cars, and carrying firearms and crude melee weapons, the gang make their way to abandoned town to look for supplies. Judging by his blonde beard, his jaunty cap, the red scarf around his neck, and the woman he's riding with, a headbanded blonde named Diana (Cindy Leadbetter), it's obvious that Kurt (Ottaviano Dell'Acqua) is their leader.
Approaching the town in an overly cautious manner, Kurt signals that all is well by telling Taurus (Massimo Vanni), a dark-haired biker with a beard, to drive out of the armoured car he's been hiding in a dramatic fashion. What this was supposed to accomplish I'll never know. But dark beard nods to blonde beard, signifying that everything is okay. I wonder what dark beard knows that blonde beard doesn't? Actually, to be honest, I really don't give a shit. Anyway, Kurt gives yet another signal, instructing his gang to enter one of the buildings.
Coming across a room filled "strange boxes," the gang are excited when they discover they're filled with foodstuff. As they're opening them up, a non-bearded gang member named Duke (Henry Luciani) starts shouting "sugar" at the top of his lungs. Just as I was getting over the awkwardness of Duke's sugar fixation, Kurt decides to dump a bag of flour on Chocolate (Geretta Geretta), the gang's token black chick. No big deal, right? They're all throwing food on one another. Yeah, but when Chocolate, still covered in flour, starts to do a jig and singing the line, "I'm white," over and over again, I began to slowly back away from the television set that had the unenviable task of transmitting this masterpiece.
Luckily, a scream managed to bring me back just in time. Who, you ask, let out this particular scream? Why it was none other than the beautiful Ann-Gisel Glass, the film's reigning champion when it came to hysterical breakdowns in the Rats: Night of Terror universe. Even though Miss Glass's Myrna is dressed head to toe in leather, wore studded bracelets, and has a fierce as fuck blonde ponytail, her fragile personality nowhere near matched the badassery of her wicked ensemble.
The reason she screamed (breakdown #1) was because she came across a rotting corpse. This leads Kurt to send out search parties to look for more bodies, which they find. As they're looking, Deus (Fausto Lombardi), the gangs spiritual adviser (he looked like Peter Weller, if he was a member of Psychic TV circa 1987), comes across a computer room. Of course, Video (Gianni Franco), the groups tech expert, thinks it's a video game. When he realizes he's wrong, he whines to himself: "I never get to find a real video game." I know what you mean, Video. Wait a minute. No I don't. You're a moron, Video. And your sleeveless army shirt makes you look like a narc.
Speaking of morons, when Kurt sees the computer, he utters the line, "Computers and corpses are a bad mixture." What the fuck does that mean?
What I wouldn't do to have some babe dressed as Vampirella show up right now to tell the group that she found "strange and wonderful things" in the basement. Imagine Brinke Stevens at the 1973 San Diego Comic-Con crossed with Nana Mouskouri after botched laser eye surgery, and you'll get a pretty good idea what to expect from the gorgeous Moune Duvivier as Lilith, a large-eyed goth wearing slinky hose and a cape. She's likes sexual intercourse, sleeping bags, and manic panic. She dislikes squares, men who are uncircumcised, and, most of all, rats, especially when they sneak into her beloved sleeping bag.
As Lucifer (Jean-Christophe Brétigniere - who's naming these cocksuckers?), her on again, off again boyfriend (who looks like the bass player from Fashion), plows into her vagina with his penis in full view of at least two men with beards, Lilith must be thinking to herself: How did end up with this dweeb? My pussy should be fucking Kurt's cock, not this foppish prat in Future-Kill eyeliner. (Pratish as he may be, but I did covet his sleeveless t-shirt with the splattered paint motif.) At any rate, while Kurt and Taurus gawk at their humping, another bearded gang member named Noah (Christian Fremont) is down in the cellar eating fruit. I sure am glad they killed off one the bearded guys first, as I was having a difficult time keeping track of all the characters in this film; particularly the one's with beards.
To the surprise of no-one–okay, maybe Video was surprised, after all, his brain is ninety percent tapioca pudding–the rats begin to make their presence felt. And you know what that means? It's time for Myrna to start loosing the rest of her shit. Employing breakdowns two, three, and four in quick succession, Myrna screams and cries like a baby. However, it was breakdown #5 that impressed me the most. Actually, I wouldn't call breakdown #5 a "breakdown," as it's more of a tantrum than anything else. Kicking and screaming lines like, "Don't let them eat me!" Myrna clearly has a problem with rats.
After a brief power struggle where Duke tries to challenge Kurt's authority, Myrna does her best impression of the Hare Krishna zombie from Dawn of the Dead. In my opinion, her impression of the Hare Krishna zombie is Ann-Gisel Glass's best non-breakdown, non-tantrum moment. But don't worry breakdown fans, she has one (breakdown #6) immediately after doing her zombie impression when she sees a spider. So, yeah, add spiders to the long list of things that cause her to freak out. Losing it shortly after Deus finishes one of his metaphysical tangents (breakdown #7), Myrna decides to take a much needed rest, while Duke and Kurt begin round of two of their epic power struggle.
I like how Chocolate induces Myrna to have breakdown #8 in order to distract Duke during an intense stand off. Call me crazy, but I think the gang members are more a threat to themselves than the actual rats. Could it be that Bruno Mattei and his writing partner Claudio Fragasso were trying to point out the frailty of man? I'm go ahead and say, yes, that was exactly their intention. I mean, the rats in Rats: Night of Terror just seem to be sitting there doing what rats typically do–you know, cleaning themselves, gnawing on stuff, etc. If you think about it, most of the deaths were the result of their own stupidity. And in the grand scheme of things, that sums up humanity rather well. I know, pretty bleak, eh? Oh, and just for the record: Myrna has two more breakdowns after #8, making her total breakdown tally: 10.
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Special thanks to the fabulous Thomas Duke (nonsensical horseshit connoisseur of Cinema Gonzo fame) for making me acutely aware of this movie by employing a series of squeaking sounds that only I was able to understand.