Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ratman (1988)

What will those mad scientists think of next? Well, this film's mad scientist is all for winning the Nobel price (seems to be quite easy these days anyhow) by creating a hybrid between rat and monkey.

One day Mousey (Nelson de la Rosa) - as the mad scientist calls his creation - escapes from his cage and starts to teleport around the tropical island he was born on, killing young women and the occasional man left and right without anyone caring or noticing or trying to find out how he can cover incredible distances on two very short legs in no time at all.

Some time later the American Terry (Janet Agren) arrives on the island to identify the dead body of her sister Marlis (Eva Grimaldi). In front of the airport, she meets the mystery writer Fred Williams (David Warbeck) who will at once become inseperable from her and tag along everywhere, even to the morgue. There, Terry learns that the local police isn't good for much. The dead body she is supposed to look at isn't her sister at all! It turns out that Marlis is on a photoshoot with the photographer Mark (Werner Pochath) somewhere in the jungle and just hasn't returned by now.

This doesn't hinder the cops from showing Terry another dead body a little later, for no reason I could comprehend.

While Terry and Fred are looking at corpses and trotting through town with no particular ambition for doing anything worth watching, Marylin and her photographer friend delight us with a weird photoshoot scene before they find more dead bodies and witness another murder. They flee to the home of the mad scientist. Will this turn out to be A Very Bad Idea?

When you take a look at "the world's smallest actor" Nelson de la Rosa in his Ratman (and no, I don't know what makes a rat/monkey hybrid a ratman) get-up, you might very well think to yourself that this is going to be a rather creepy piece of cinema. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. While Nelson really looks the part, the film never bothers to make much use of that fact.

In truth, there's just not much happening at all - there are some murders, some cheesy photo shoot scenes and our "heroes" traipsing around finding some corpses, then flying back home, and that's it for excitement.

I have to admit I was hoping for something a little better from the last film Giuliano Carnimeo directed. Carnimeo isn't one of the big Italian genre names, but he has some fine, entertaining movies like Exterminators of the Year 3000 or The Case of the Bloody Iris in his filmography, so I had certain expectations of, not exactly quality, but entertainment value.

Ratman completely wastes the excellent duo of Warbeck and Agren and doesn't allow them to do anything of interest besides walking around. It's such a shame.

On the film's plus side are the insane ravings of the mad scientist, the scene where Mousey climbs out of a toilet and the insane ending I am now going to spoil: Mousey hides in the dead Marlis' handbag (not without killing a police clerk without anyone noticing) which is taken by Terry without a look inside or a comment on the weight of the thing, then goes through customs without a problem and causes a freeze frame shot of a plane with screams on the soundtrack. Take that City of the Living Dead's ending!

Now, you could argue that the toilet scene and the movie's ending alone are enough to make it mandatory watching for the friend of cheap Italian crap, and I certainly wouldn't contradict you, yet I still can't help but feel disappointed about the misuse of Warbeck and Agren and the terrible feeling of meh the rest of the film left me with.

Of course, when someone will ask me in a few months what I think about Ratman (this sort of question comes up all the time, doesn't it?), I'll only remember that Agren and Warbeck are in it, the way Nelson looks, the toilet and the freeze frame plane, and call the film completely awesome.


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