Back in school, there was one kid who I measured myself against and whom I needed to beat in order to keep my self-respect. In most subjects this was no problem, I was easily better in Maths and English but I really struggled in PE. Sure I could outsprint him, but he was a much better cricketer and football player. Despite my almost all round dominance, it bugged me more than anything that in the great game of leather on willow he was head and shoulders above me, and, no matter how I tried, he murdered my bowling and got me out anytime we played. Darren was my nemesis, my natural enemy, and it seemed to me that if I couldn't overpower him on the cricketing field, all my other victories were meaningless.
Ratman is about the natural enemy of swimwear models - the genetically spliced rodent ape. Dogs terrorize cats, cats terrorize mice, and Bond has his Blofeld, similarly swimwear models have an innate fear of two foot tall monkey rodents. Ratman attempts to put this ancient rivalry on the same footing as Spielberg did with the battle between sharks and topless babes, and to create blood-curding horror as gorgeous pouting monobrow lovely Eva Grimaldi is stalked by the menace of Weng Weng-a-like Nelson de la Rosa sporting pointy teeth and a lack of conditioner.
The whole shocking affair begins when an English nutjob scientist, situated in the middle of some tropical jungle in his laboratory/garage, finally strikes gold in his efforts to create a new form of life. Soon his hybrid offspring has outgrown the waste paper bin he seems to live in, and it has taken a liking to creeping up on unsuspecting women and chewing on their faces. Soon, the nearby village is emptied by the nocturnal ramblings of the ravenous ratboy, and our Dr Frankenstein tries every night with his sartorially challenged assistant to recapture the toothsome terror.
Meanwhile, senator's daughter and impromptu shower addict Eva Grimaldi is modeling her derriére off nearby, tripping over the corpses of nibbled locals whilst striking more poses than David Cameron on a PR binge. Her sensible sister is summoned to this tropical paradise when the incompetent police wrongly identify another gnawed carcass as her sibling, and she meets holidaying writer David Warbeck, who is soon cracking the case of the bimbo and the test tube terror by applying his literary imagination. It all builds up to a shuddering climax where the dim damsel opens the refrigerator door of danger, and miniscule mayhem is unleashed on her potential rescuers.
From the pens of the same writers who gave Fulci some of his best zombie moments, gave Bava his jet black Bay of Blood and collaborated with Argento on his unusually sweet Cat O'Nine Tails, Ratman is the Ferrero Rocher of guilty pleasures with its sweet nuttiness spoiling us. We stumble from location to location with little narrative, and the only sort of logic is the faulty kind as the cast fail to bother the police with the trifling matter of a few dead bodies, and gorgeous pouting models keep the camera happy so that you won't notice another plot-hole. Still, the hoakiness works a charm and any film which gives the world the spectacle of a very small man rising from within a toilet bowl to claim another victim is a film that refuses to waste your time.
Eva Grimaldi is simple eye candy and David Warbeck reprises his tongue in cheek charm despite poor dialogue and a lack of action. Director Carnimeo, sometimes referred to as Antony Ascott, made much more competent films like the excellent giallo The Case of the Bloody Iris, and several entries in the Sartana series, but here he realises that nonsense, a bit of gore, and a lot of flesh will make up for weak production and a half assed script. Ratman is brilliantly entertaining and wears its shoddiness proudly, it even leaves the door open for a sequel as the mini monster gets through customs and is let loose on airborne passengers heading our way. Now Ratboys on a plane, there's high concept...
Clearly the materials for Shameless' transfer are far from first rate. The English dub is presented throughout with an apology for the quality of some of the soundtrack, but the decision to keep David Warbeck's own voice seems the right one to my mind. The transfer overall is probably the poorest of those that Shameless have presented, with a great deal of softness, lack of detail and much evidence of combing, and saw-toothing. Big screens will be quite merciless to the disc, but balanced against this must be the rareness of the film on English friendly DVD. The audio is a little dull in places and, as is usual with Italian exploitation, the synching of mouths to the English dub is quite erratic.
The disc begins with the trailers for the other Shameless releases which are included here - Frightened Woman, Manhattan Baby, My Dear Killer, Night Train Murders, Black Cat and Baba Yaga. There is a trailer for the main feature as the remaining extra and the package comes in the usual yellow box with reversible sleeve bearing the wholly appropriate legend "The critter from the shitter".
Not a great visual presentation, but this is a whole lot of fun. Those who love bad monster movies will open their heart to Ratman.