Review: ‘Willard’

Neat little horror tale, shrewdly organized from Stephen Gilbert's novel, Ratman's Notebooks, capitalizes on human repugnance for rodents as Bruce Davison unleashes his trained rats on obstacles. Some good jump moments and at least two stomach-churning murders committed by the rats with tight direction of Daniel Mann develop pic into sound nail-chewer.

Neat little horror tale, shrewdly organized from Stephen Gilbert’s novel, Ratman’s Notebooks, capitalizes on human repugnance for rodents as Bruce Davison unleashes his trained rats on obstacles. Some good jump moments and at least two stomach-churning murders committed by the rats with tight direction of Daniel Mann develop pic into sound nail-chewer.

Davison, working for wheeler-dealer Ernest Borgnine, who took foundry over from Davison’s dead father, lives with invalid, unrelenting mother Elsa Lanchester. Their old mansion gone to seed, loner Davison makes friends with resident rats, who learn to obey his commands. Davison, after death of his mother, killing of one of chief rats at Borgnine’s hands, and receipt of pink slip from Borgnine, begins to fight back.

Davison supplies nicely controlled characterization as he fiddles with his rats, puts up with his mother and her friends and finally loses patience. Borgnine is first rate as he confronts subordinates. Lanchester is highly credible as the demanding mama.

Willard

Production

BCO. Director Daniel Mann; Producer Mort Briskin; Screenplay Gilbert A. Ralston; Camera Robert B. Hauser; Editor Warren Low; Music Alex North; Art Director Howard Hollander

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1971. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Bruce Davison Ernest Borgnine Elsa Lanchester Sondra Locke Michael Dante Jody Gilbert
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