In honor of the release of my novella, RATTUS NEW YORKUS, I decided to share a list of 10 horror movies centered around those disease-bearing rodents. If rats make you squeamish, this makes a great double dare to watch a few of these selected horrors.
Now, in no particular order, here are 10 flicks straight from the sewer. Click the movie poster to watch the trailer and see which one ‘squeaks’ your interest.
I named one of my hamsters Ben, and he was appropriately mean as hell. With a theme song performed by young Michael Jackson, this was my first foray into rat horror films. A young boy befriends old Ben, who just happens to be the ringleader for a horde of menacing rats. I always tell people, this is the rat movie to start with.
9. THE FOOD OF THE GODS
This is my favorite because it’s a Bert I. Gordon joint. That man is my hero. When the animals on a pacific northwest island start slurping up some white goo, they get, well, they didn’t call him Mr. B.I.G. for nothing. I saw this in the theater when it first came out and buy it on every new format.
I’m not gonna lie. This one is not so great. Also known as Altered Species, its the common rat trope of a chemical getting exposed to rats and making them…well…rattier. If this came out now, it would be in Red Box with a bitching cover image and nothing else.
7. OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN
You know, I had forgotten all about this until now, and I don’t know why, considering how much I liked it back in the 80s. It stars Peter Weller (Robocop), a man possessed with figuring out what unseen terror us lurking in his home. Is he out of his mind, or is there something furry and lethal stalking him? Pure 80s goodness.
6. THE RATS ARE COMING! THE WEREWOLVES ARE HERE!
This wins, hands down, for best title. Not sure how easy it will be to find this early 70s shlock (ahem) classic that’s more about werewolves than rats. If you like watching loonies do bad things to rats, this might be for you.
5. THE KILLER SHREWS
I have to tell ya, the giant shrews in this 50s scifi romp are kinda icky. They made my skin crawl when I first saw it many moons ago. Yes, I know a shrew isn’t technically a rat, but watch this one and tell me if it makes a difference. You know it’s worth a watch when it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
4. DEADLY EYES
I fell in love with this VHS cover back in the day. I rented it quite a few times over the years. Now, it’s not the greatest, but there is some fun to be had here. We’ve got rats as big as dogs invading homes and an entire city. I’d love to see this movie remade with a The Meg sized budget.
3. RATS – NIGHT OF TERROR
Ok, this is an Italian horror movie, and we all know how I feel about that. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it. I will give it props for being a post-apocalypse rat horror flick. And there is a pretty cool twist in the end.
2. GRAVEYARD SHIFT
Maybe not the best Stephen King adaptation, but it’s still fun to watch. And how about that movie poster, huh? There’s tons of rats in the old textile mill, and a little somethin’-somethin’ extra. I actually dig this movie and have to remember to watch it during this year’s Horrortober.
Whether you watch the original (co-starring Elsa Lanchester, the Bride of Frankenstein) or the remake with the supremely odd Crispin Glover, you can’t go wrong. The lesson here is, beware of dudes who have a posse of rats as their only friends. Considered a classic for a damn good reason.
And there you have it, 10 movies with high ick factors starring armies of furry beasts. Once you’ve seen them all and want more, don’t forget to check out Rattus New Yorkus and find out what happens when you take a blowtorch to thousands of rats in Grand Central Station.
Growing up in the 70s, I was exposed to dozens of horror films from the 50s and 60s that centered around man’s environment getting revenge on the beasts who dared tamper with or destroy the world around them. Those movies, along with Universal’s monster movies, were my ‘starter-horror’. They’re what made me what I am today. Not sure if I should thank them or sue anyone left alive who made them.
Guest blogger Spencer Mitchell loves the Eco-Horror sub genre as much as I do. So this week, I’m jumping in the back seat and letting Spencer take the wheel. Take it away, #1 Hellion!
Many popular films and novels feature conflicts involving man vs. man or man vs. beast. But what happens when humans face conflict with the world around them? The world is indifferent to the suffering of humans, but that doesn’t mean the fates of the two are not intertwined. So here are five of the scariest movies that show what happens when we don’t respect the power of planet Earth and the end of the world comes for us.
The idea of nature rebelling against humankind is not a new one. In 1954, just as the world was in full terror due to the Cold War and the rise of nuclear technology, the horror movie Them! provided quite the scare. This movie was one of many “big bug” films that focused on nuclear testing gone awry to create humongous, radioactive creatures. Though it is remembered as little more than a classic black-and-white B-movie today, Them! certainly shocked audiences with its frank portrayal of what could happen to the natural world in the event of an atomic incident. (Hunter’s note, Them! is one of my all time favorite movies.)
In 1976, tiny creatures went rogue once more in the sci-fi thriller The Food of the Gods, loosely based on an H.G. Wells novel. This time, the abnormal growth in animals is due to a miraculous “food” that bubbles up from the earth to provide sustenance for rats, wasps, and worms. This substance (a result of man-made waste) ends up making the animals grow larger than humans, disturbing the gentle balance between man and nature. Though the film was financially successful, it is widely forgotten today – which is actually rather unfortunate since the theme of ecology striking back against industry remains prevalent in our modern world.
In the 2004 action movie The Day After Tomorrow, Manhattan is thrust into a climate-change-induced Ice Age, leaving millions stranded in a polar prison. Though the film dramatizes the effects of global warming, it definitely serves as a potent worst-case scenario. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), drastic climate change is in our imminent future whether we like it or not, forecasting “a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.” This will eventually cause changes in precipitation patterns, droughts, the melting of ice caps, and even stronger hurricanes.
When a horror master decides to take on the subject of man versus nature, you know the result will be a chilling portrayal of what can happen when the world fights back. M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening involves a mysterious plant-based neurotoxin that drives those exposed to it to commit suicide. This film may include more fantasy elements than others, but the message is clear – when science messes with the natural world, the natural world has ways of defending itself and seeking retaliation.
Found-footage horror films have always served to bring the viewer in closer to the subject and make it feel more realistic. This is even more chilling when the subject is a deadly waterborne epidemic that hits a small Massachusetts town during a local festival. In 2012’s The Bay, hundreds of townspeople succumb to a flesh-eating, stomach-turning illness caused by unsafe waste disposal that was covered up by the local government. The entire event is captured on film by a young reporter and presented as a mockumentary. It’s a chilling horror film, but it also shows how far some people are willing to go to deny the effect humans have had on nature.
Though many of these films were made to entertain and frighten viewers, they are not created in vain. They show what could happen to our world if we keep disturbing nature’s delicate balance…and what will happen if we don’t make the changes soon.