Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: RATMAN (1988)

Ratman, Directed By Giuliano Carnimeo (or Anthony Ascot), Starring David Warbeck (1988).
Review By Webberly Rattenkraft

For obvious reasons, I find myself irresistibly drawn to any movie that sounds like it's going to be about a rat who fights crime, and even though I probably should have guessed from the cover that this wasn't going to be one of those, I bought myself a copy of Ratman from the bootleg DVD guy down by the pier. Or is it Rat Man? IMDb says the latter1, but the awkward kerning of the on-screen title makes it unclear. I personally am going to go with Ratman, because that's obviously much cooler. You don't know if "Rat Man" is just some freaky guy with buck teeth or what, sounds like maybe he lives in the sewer or something? "Ratman," though, sounds like he will definitely kick your ass. "Rat-Man" could go either way, depending on the typeface.

New Zealand's own half witted scruffy looking nerf herder
So, if Ratman isn't about a mutant rat who either fights or commits crime, why should anyone bother watching it? First of all, it stars David Warbeck, the man who would have been Harrison Ford if Harrison Ford had been from New Zealand and never quite gotten his big Hollywood break. Wry, dry, and suave, he's the thinking man's action hero, if the thinking man was drunk enough to watch Ratman. Second, Ratman is played by Nelson de la Rosa—you might remember him best as Marlon Brando's tiny pal in the 1996 Dr. Moreau remake—who at 2’4” stood a full five inches shorter than Weng Weng, Creepy KOFY Movie Time's favorite Filipino martial artist and action hero.

Brando getting upstaged by Nelson
Mr. de la Rosa thus holds the coveted title of World's Shortest Actor2. Thirdly... well, look, making even a shitty movie is a lot of hard work, and if you went to all the trouble to make a movie, you'd want people to watch yours, right? So it's just common courtesy.
It's not all mimosas and happy endings, though. Be warned that the title is as grotesque a case of false advertising as you're likely to see outside a late-night infomercial. Rather than being some sort of rat/human hybrid, the title character is in fact a cross between a rat and a monkey, a fearsome creature with vicious claws and sharp fangs dripping with venom. The more scientifically-minded among you might find yourselves wondering how a rat/monkey hybrid would end up being poisonous. I'll let the movie's mad scientist explain, in his own words: "I don't know where the poison comes from." Beats me how he expects to win a Nobel Prize3 with a lackadaisical attitude like that. In my fan fiction Ratman reboot, there's a subplot where one of his assistants spikes the gene mix with DNA from the venomous platypus, leading to a climactic confrontation where the A-Team (it's a crossover fan fic) lures Ratman into a trap baited with Vegemite, but if you want to know more, you'll have to read the book.

Don't get me wrong, I personally approve of any attempt to boost rats' overall bad-assitude—as Einstein said, if rats weighed 20 kilos, they would doubtless rule the world—but I'm really not sure why you'd want to add monkey DNA into the mix. Monkeys are notoriously unreliable: flighty, insincere, and prone to poo-flinging. As if determined to confirm all the worst monkey stereotypes, Ratman breaks out of his lab cage almost as soon as the movie starts and spends the bulk of his screen time running around killing anyone he bumps into. I am very confused as to Ratman's motivations here. Why is he serially killing people for no apparent personal gain or purpose? Is he just an asshole? If he wants to truly wreak havoc on human society, he should be infiltrating it to destroy it from within, not just knocking off the low-hanging fruit (said fruit in this case being a bevy of fashion models4 and their photographer, with the occasional henchman5 to round out the menu).

Let me pop that pimple for you madam!

 This would be a great place for a segue into a more detailed plot summary, but why should I? If you want to impress your friends around the campfire with your detailed knowledge of the intricacies of Ratman 's nuanced plot, you can bite the bullet and watch the movie yourself. Why should I suffer alone? Suffice it to say that models get stalked and killed, David Warbeck is squinty and handsome, the mad scientist gets his comeuppance, and in the end Ratman is randomly loaded onto an airplane and wreaks havoc over the freeze-frame ending. This was an obvious set-up for Ratman on a Plane, a sequel which never materialized for reasons both unknown in the particulars and obvious in general. Still, it would've been epic. You think Ratman is a vicious, venomous murder machine on the ground? Wait'll you see him cranky because his goddamn ears won't pop.

1. Fun Fact: The original Italian title is Quella villa in fondo al parco , or "The House at the End of the Park," because sometimes hoping moviegoers will misremember the title of The Last House on the Left  is a studio's only chance of selling any tickets.
2. Weng Weng, at 2’9”, holds the title of Shortest Leading Man. And yet... is not the ratman in a movie called Ratman  automatically the leading man? I'm not saying Weng Weng fans and Nelson de la Rosa fans should form up into cults and wage a covert war against each other through subterfuge and sabotage, but it would be a pretty good idea.
3. The joke's on him, because Fun Fact: The Nobel Prize for Randomly Crossbreeding Things was discontinued in 1963 after a flock of piranhapigeons (Pygolumba latviensis) devoured their creators on stage at the presentation ceremony.
4. Trying to figure out a way to get the hot babes in your screenplay into the danger zone? Make them all fashion models and you can send them on assignment anywhere you want (see Horror of the ZombiesDawn of the Mummy, and so forth. This also works for girl bands).
5. Fun Fact: "Inadequate specimen containment" has made Henching Monthly 's yearly list of top five henchman complaints every year since 1932.

Don't forget to check out one of the best Horror host shows to come along since Ghoulardi, Zacherley or Bob Wilkins, Creepy Kofy Movie Time! Check them out here
Thanks Web (who is also a human rat hybrid) for the great review!

Here's Webberly in his natural habitat

Theater Of Guts tribute
 to Nelson De La Rosa as Mousey
in the Trailers That Smell edit of RatMan

1 comment:

  1. God-shmod, I want my monkey-ratman.

    Terrific article, Webberly! I will actually try to catch this one now.


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