Willard made animal attack movies popular again. Leading to several copy cats. I never would’ve known about Willard if not for my mom’s recommendation. Based on the Stephen Gilbert novel Ratman’s Notebooks, Willard is about a social outcast who is constantly pushed around by the people in his life. Willard’s only friends are the rats that he trains into his own personal army. I don’t have a fear of rats, but hundreds of rats crawling around would freak me out.

I assumed Willard would be entirely about rat attacks, but that isn’t the case at all. Willard is more of a character study with slow building horror. A young Bruce Davison is pathetic, but not entirely hopeless. The Bride of Frankenstein herself Elsa Lanchester plays Willard’s overbearing sick mother that he lives with. Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine is Willard’s manipulative boss who took over his father’s company and Oscar nominee Sondra Locke is the only woman who shows him kindness.

Willard faces possible foreclosure on his house and other problems that the rats can solve. His most beloved companion is white rat Socrates, but his most loyal friend is Ben. Ben is a black rat who genuinely looks sinister thanks to several well-trained rats in the movie. So many people deserve Willard’s wrath, but only his boss gets swarmed by rats. When Willard turns on the rats, he feels their wrath as well. Willard is slower than I expected, but the rats are worth the build up.


Willard talks to Socrates and Ben

Followed by: Ben

5 thoughts on “Ratman

  1. The late 60’s to I’m guessing the late 80’s were full of Nature Gone Mad or Eco-Horror films, some good and some bad. Willard is caught somewhere in the middle as it’s not really pure Horror, more of a brooding supernatural character study as you said, but at the same time audiences are seeing the rats get a genuine taste of bloodlust, carnage, and violence, and are probably wondering how long it’ll be before they turn on their master. Davison’s last line of ‘Ben! I was good to you!’ sums up Willard’s whole situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I very much enjoyed this film Willard which as you say is an excellent character study.

    I also enjoyed its sequel Ben where the rat Ben befriends a young boy with asthma named Danny.

    Danny is not as mentally and emotionally disturbed as Willard.

    Ben was also the first film where I heard the Michael Jackson song Ben.

    Ben is actually my favourite song sung by Michael Jackson.

    Liked by 1 person

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