Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


The "rats" go on the rampage

DEADLY EYES (aka The Rats/1982). Director: Robert Clouse.

This entertaining horror flick is very loosely based on British writer James Herbert's novel "The Rats," with the action being transplanted to Toronto from England. Deep in the sewers and subway lines rats the size of dogs [and played by dogs as well as puppet heads for close-ups] are breeding after ingesting some chemical or other, and getting hungrier by the minute. The main characters are teacher Paul Harris (Sam Groom), and his latest lady friend, a health inspector named Kelly Leonard (Sara Botsford). One of Kelly's employees (Scatman Crothers) tells her he's seen a really big rat, and later becomes one of their victims, along with teens, elderly people, and one unfortunate baby who's dragged out of her highchair. A stupid sub-plot has to do with a female student who develops a crush on Harris; she and her friends are boring, but most of the movie has to do with the busy rats, who stage attacks in bowling alleys, a movie theater, and finally on a train load of politicos and others accompanying the obnoxious mayor on the first ride on a new subway expansion line. While the movie is low-budget and even schlocky at times, it does work up some suspense, the actors are good, the "dogs" are effective stand-ins for big rats, and the sounds the beasties make are a little unnerving. Clouse also directed "The Pack," about killer dogs, five years earlier, and Botsford also appeared in Murder By Phone. Fans of the Herbert novel will undoubtedly be disappointed, but this is hardly as terrible as some have suggested.

Verdict: Actually pretty creepy if you're in the right mood. ***.

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