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Of Unknown Origin


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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Weller, Jennifer Dale, Lawrence Dane, Kenneth Welsh, Louis Del Grande
  • Directors: George P. Cosmatos
  • Writers: Brian Taggert, Chauncey G. Parker III
  • Producers: Claude Héroux, Pierre David
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 5, 2003
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009NHBH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,605 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Of Unknown Origin" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An advertising executive battles a giant, intelligent rat that has invaded his townhouse.

Amazon.com

A low-rent horror flick from the early 1980s, Of Unknown Origin comes across like a grisly, live-action version of Tom and Jerry. Our inept hero is the ambitious, house-proud executive Bart Hughes (Peter Weller), who is left alone by his wife and son to complete a business proposal only to discover that he is sharing his apartment with a mischievous giant rat. Unable to trap or poison his foe, Hughes quickly descends into nightmare-haunted madness and thus the stage is set for a suspenseless battle of wits that is less cat-and-mouse than idiot-versus-rat.

Finding an angry rodent swimming in your toilet might be a pretty unpleasant prospect, but cinematically speaking it is far from terrifying. Created using jerky point-of-view shots and creature effects that range from incongruous real-life footage to button-eyed glove puppets, the rat is an unthreatening villain, despite Weller’s best efforts to react in abject horror when he finds the corners of his mail nibbled or his dry groceries spoiled. There are some unsuccessful attempts to make Hughes’ plight more immediate to the audience by references to real-life rat problems--he visits a library to research his enemy and finds some disturbing photographs of rat-attack victims and subsequently ruins a dinner party with a genuinely unsettling rant about infestation and plagues--but it is difficult to feel sorry for him when he can’t even muster the tenacity to track down a professional exterminator. By the time Weller gets caught in one of his own traps, you will probably be roo! ting for the rat anyway, and might take some pleasure from a ridiculous denouement in which, dressed in full battle-gear, he completely destroys his beloved apartment by clumsily chasing the elusive vermin with a nail-studded baseball bat. Gore Verbinski's genuinely hilarious Mousehunt did it with a lot more charm. --Paul Philpott

Customer Reviews

This movie is one of the most underated horror films that I have ever seen.
Z. Snygg
The simple premise, the unintentional quirkiness, and a good performance by Weller all add up to a fun and entertaining time.
Stanley Runk
He smashes the rat while it's hiding in a doll house which unsubtly looks exactly like Weller's house.
John's Horror Corner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 2003
Format: DVD
I saw this on video back in the 80's, mostly because Peter Weller was in it, and he was (and still is) one of my favorite actors. He plays an NYC businessman who becomes obsessed with a really big and mean rat that's invaded the dreamhouse/brownstone he's personally restored. The filmmakers definitely had aspirations beyond just making a rat movie (at one point, Weller pounds on the ceiling with a copy of "Moby Dick"), but just as a rat movie, it succeeds beautifully: Increasingly scary and gory rat action, something the new version of "Willard" pretty much forgot to include. There's also a rat expert onhand, without which no good rat movie can do without - really two, if you count Weller's character, who starts spewing rat facts at inappropriate times at the movie goes on. (One of the great bits of dialogue goes something like this: "You're thinking of [the rat] maybe 10% of the time...but he's thinking of you 100% of the time..." Because he's a RAT, and rats is rats.) What really puts the movie over, aside from some pretty effective direction, is Weller's great performance as the businessman, who slowly starts to lose his grip the more he becomes obsessed with evicting the rat from his home. I'd rank it as one of the best performances in a horror film, up there with Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly." So, if you're into rat movies, it'd be hard to top this one for your viewing pleasure.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Metzger on September 18, 2007
Format: DVD
When I was little I had a fear of rats and this movie made it even worse.It terrified me.I still watched it over and over though.Many years later I finally saw it again and it still scared me though I found out is wasn't so much about the rat but about this mans obsession with destroying it.
It starts when his wife and young son go on vacation to visit her parents.Soon after Peter starts encountering the rat.He tries to work and the rat is thumping against the ceiling.He tries setting rat poison and rat traps all to no avail.One night the rat comes out of the toilet while he was peeing.Another night after taking in a stray cat he finds it ripped up and killed.He goes to the basment and finds a nest of little rats only to be attacked.The attack scenes are pretty good and actually kind of chilling.The rat completely took over his life.One of my favorite scenes is at the business dinner when Peter starts to spew off all these random facts about rats.The final scene in which he completely destroys his house trying to kill this rat is awesome and shows just how obsessed he has become.
Overall this is a solid flick.It delivers a few nice scares,the music is eery and the setting is also cool.Peter Weller also gives a great and believable performance.Give this movie a chance and you will enjoy this.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Koppel on June 24, 2005
Format: DVD
Peter Weller is a man on his way up fast in the business world. He has personally renovated a NY brownstone and is up for an important position at work. But then two things happen. First his wife and son go off to Vermont to visit her family. Second, a very large rat moves in. What follows is a sort of modern-day retelling of THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA (complete with clips from the movie).

As Peter becomes aware of the rat and begins to try and deal with it, he slowly becomes obsessed with freeing his home of the unwanted invader. Obsession grows and Weller sinks deeper and deeper. Work begins to suffer and his secretary and boss begin to worry about him. But whatever the hardship, Weller, like the Old Man, will not let up for a moment. I found the ending of the movie to be quite satisfying with the final lines very neatly tying the whole tale up neatly.

Some may think of this as horror, some suspense, and some tragedy. There are definitely elements of all three involved but any such label would bee to simple for what this movie really is. This is not a very well-known film but it deserves more exposure.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Z. Snygg on September 14, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This movie is one of the most underated horror films that I have ever seen. Beautiful use of the long take and voyeuristic photography. It's very "Roman Polanski esque". Weller is perfect as the upscale New Yorker who becomes obsessed with a rodent invading his beautiful apartment. If you ever lived in a large city, this movie is a must see.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Liz on May 8, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
An urban "Moby Dick"! Suspenseful yet humorous with some purposely overblown rat scenes. (ONE rat, not "hordes.") The film is not a scary rat flick, (though it has some fright moments)--it's a psychological thriller about a man being drawn into obsession.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "cronos262" on August 16, 2003
Format: DVD
I'm a big horror buff. Now i have known about this one since it's theatrical release, but this little gem has managed to evade me for a viewing all these years! Thanks to DVD. I finally got to peep it out. I wasn't expecting much. But when the credits rolled I felt all warm and fuzzy for laying out the dough on this title!
Most the other reviewers here applaud Weller's performance. And I must say it's maybe even the strongest one I've seen from him.
He plays the family guy, whose wife (Shannon Tweed in her screen debut) takes the kid and goes off to vacation at her parent's. Weller's character can not go because he's trying to get a deal through at work that could give him a big promotion. Soon after his wife and kid leave, a pretty big damned rat infiltrates Weller's brownstone abode which he has obsessively renovated painstakingly by hand. Basically Weller is a neat freak! And when the rat begins to vandalize the house as rodent's do... He begins to go nutty and obsessive on how to get rid of it... And soon it's a battle of life and death over which one will be king of the castle!
While others associate this film to the likes of Ben and mayhaps even Food of the Gods. I found this film to be rather original! Probably mostly in part to superior characterizations which make the tale work damn good.
The ladies will most likely freak out on this one though. Let's just say the big rat get's quite brazen at times trying to take over the house as his territory! If you think you get it bad enough to keep the seat down! Well then... Don't let 'em see this one!
I think it's a pretty safe bet that well rounded horror afficandos will be pleased with purchasing this one. All others should try to give it the ole' rental first.
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