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Film / Rats: Night of Terror

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Rats: Night of Terror (Italian: Rats - Notte di terrore) is a 1984 Italian post-apocalyptic exploitation horror film directed by Bruno Mattei (Hell of the Living Dead, Zombi 3D) and Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2) and starring Ottaviano Dell'Acqua, Geretta Geretta, and Massimo Vanni.

Two centuries after a nuclear holocaust, the survivors are divided between those who live in comfortable underground cities and the "New Primitives" who live in the sunlight. A group of 11 of these people come across a mysterious, abandoned city. Despite the presence of numerous horribly mutilated corpses, the adventurers decide to settle in town after discovering a large amount of food, a greenhouse with various fruit trees and a reservoir of drinking water. The following night hundreds and hundreds of hungry genetically mutated rats are ready to attack them one by one.

Absolutely no relation to the novel by James Herbert.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • After the End: The story takes place in the year 2240, 225 years after a catastrophic nuclear war destroys much of civilization and reduces the surviving population to the status of scavengers.
  • The Alcoholic: Lucifer finds a bar in the city and starts desperately looking for booze, and winds up totally snockered when the rats come for him.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: The rats are smart enough to bite through the bikers' tires to keep them from getting away. They also seem to know how to team up and attack (or set traps) as a group.
  • Anti-Hero: Various shades among the characters. Lucifer seems to be the darkest, as some within the group fully believe him capable of murder.
  • The Apunkalypse: The team members are all dressed in 1980s punk and new wave attire.
  • Bald Mystic: Deus, portrayed by Fausto Lombardi, is bald with a religious symbol on his forehead, and seems to be the most spiritual of the team.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted. Chocolate is one of the only two characters who survives.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Zigzagged. There's a lot of blood, but some of the most gory scenes (Lilith's death, for example), are remarkably clean.
  • Carry a Big Stick: The gang has at least two spiked maces at their disposal.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: It seems the last surviving protagonists have been rescued at the last moment by other people who survived the nuclear holocaust. Then one removes his gas-mask revealing they're Rat People.
  • Due to the Dead: The gang take the corpses they find in the town and set them ablaze, with even the comic relief members watching solemnly as they burn. Deus even says a few words, though he's the only one who understands them.
  • Dramatic Irony: Upon seeing Lilith's corpse, the leader of the group figures Lucifer murdered her. The audience knows that a rat ate through her sleeping bag and burrowed its way, uh, into her.
    • Entertainingly Wrong: Even after seeing said rat crawl out of her mouth, they still seem to think Lucifer did the actual killing, though.
  • Driven to Suicide: Diana (the one with the feathered hair and spiky headband), slashes her wrists during her Heroic BSoD after being attacked by rats.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The film was marketed in Germany as a sequel to Escape 2000.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: After the group is forced to leave Taurus (the Chuck Norris lookalike) behind, they seem to encounter him later in the movie. He's facing away from them, and when he's turned around, his face has been bitten to shreds.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Kurt decides to make a safe room, and the gang sets to boarding up all the entrances...but somehow completely miss/forget a giant open window. Yeah, they come to regret it.
  • Flat Character: None of the team members get much in the way of characterization.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Kurt refuses to believe the rats are actually intelligent, in spite of being the victim of a number of traps and advanced tactics.
  • Gasoline Lasts Forever: The gang finds a working flamethrower and several working motorcycles in the city.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Lilith has a rat burrow up her nether regions, which subsequently re-emerges from her mouth.
    • Kurt racks Duke when he nearly gets him, Video (the one with the blond 'fro) and Deus killed by refusing to let them into the saferoom.
  • The Heart: Chocolate (the Token Minority), is the most compassionate and emotional member of the team and tries her best to smooth over conflicts.
  • Hope Spot: Towards the end of the movie, the rats seem to be docile and Diana awakens from her coma and starts walking. Naturally, it's a trap and Diana eventually slashes her wrists.
  • It Can Think: Rats are relatively intelligent, but these rats do several things that no normal rats could pull off, so we're left to infer that maybe the radiation had some kind of effect on their intelligence that increased it, as they are seen setting traps to trick the idiotic bunch of protagonists. This MIGHT slightly explain the rat men in the ending, but it still reeks of Ass Pull. But then again, this IS a Bruno Mattei film...
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: When the group decides to sleep in a room full of beds, Lucifer and Lilith pick one and go to town right in front of their friends, who either complain or try to ignore them. It's also surprisingly graphic sex even with them covered by a blanket and there is zero lead in, so it's a borderline Big-Lipped Alligator Moment. Eventually, they're convinced to take it outside.
  • Man on Fire: After one of their group runs afoul of a swarm of rats, Kurt turns his flamethrower on the guy. Probably not the kind of help he was pleading for.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: For absolutely no reason at all, there is a tarantula in the bar. It never shows up again and doesn't affect anything around it; it's completely gratuitous and was probably done to just up the creep factor, as if thousands of man-eating rats was not enough.
  • More Dakka:
    • Kurt's favored weapon is a five-barreled shotgun.
    • Duke, after turning on Kurt, somehow finds himself a tank broken down in the middle of the street and tries to apply its machine gun to the group. Unfortunately, it either jams or runs out of ammo after one burst.
  • The Mutiny: After the rats bite through the bikers' tires, Duke (the one who dresses like a half-baked Napoleonic War general), rises up against Kurt, claiming that the securing the bikes properly was the first thing he should've thought of, and also blames the deaths among the group on him. He can't rally the others to his side, and ultimately backs down from dueling Kurt, though he remains resentful and eventually backstabs him.
  • Number Two: Deus seems to be second-in-command within the group, after Kurt.
  • Official Couple: There seem to be a few among the gang.
    • Lucifer and Lilith.
    • Kurt completely falls to pieces after Diana kills herself.
    • Chocolate embraces Video quite a bit.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Video indulges in this while booting up a power grid.
  • Rat Men: The twist is that the other survivors are a race of humanoid rats.
  • The Rat That Walks: Taurus gets infested with rats and becomes one of these as a method the rats use to trick the gang.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: After the End, a band of survivors discover a city with a water purifier, fresh growing food, and even some amenities. Naturally there's a catch. Thousands of bitey little catches, actually. Several large ones, as well, depending on the Rat People's disposition.
  • Screaming Woman: All the female characters at some point.
  • Swarm of Rats: The titular rats tend to attack in this manner, which makes things worse.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: The rats appear to be in pretty good health, at least the ones who haven't been pre-killed to swell the ranks. Several of them are multicolored or white, as well.
  • Token Minority: Chocolate is the team's sole person of colour.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Deus appears to hew to moral and spiritual beliefs the others don't recognize.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Literally everyone in the group does something stupid at one point or another that gets them killed. It's painfully obvious they didn't have the budget to have actual action scenes, so the characters simply do incredibly dumb things and get bumped off one at a time. The most obvious thing, of course, is that they could have simply left the building when the rats were first discovered. The excuse that their motorcycle tires were chewed out is weak-sauce at best and they could have simply left on foot, but they insist on staying and it gets all but two of them killed as a result.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: No one's very fond of the giant swarm of rats, but Myrna completely wigs out in their presence to the point of joining Duke when he promises to save her from the rats.
  • World of Ham: Subtle acting is not this film's strong suit.