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Willard (Bluray/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray]
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(May 16, 2017)
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Willard Stiles (Bruce Davison, Insidious: Chapter 4) is a young man with a big problem. He lives alone in a crumbling house with his ailing mother (Elsa Lanchester, Arnold, Bride of Frankenstein). His boss, Al Martin (Ernest Borgnine, Escape from New York) is a vulgar, cruel man who stole his business from Willards father and is now working Willard to death at his factory job.
Lonely, depressed and isolated, Willard is on the verge of a breakdown when he makes a new friend: Ben, one of the many rats who inhabit his dilapidated home. Not only can Willard communicate with the rodent, but he can actually command him to do his bidding. Using Ben and his furry friends as instruments of retaliation, Willard commands his pets to carry out his vengeance…
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Top Customer Reviews
Rat-themed movies too often go for pure gore or totally silly stories. "Willard" does neither.
Bruce Davison, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Borgnine and Sondra Locke give good performances as one might expect from actors of their competence and standing.
The rats, trained by Moe and Nora Di Sesso, are not exaggerated nor are they computer-generated. They are the domestic variety of course, and any viewers who have pet rats will find Socrates, Ben and their many friends and family far more adorable than frightening.
Unlike too many "horror" movies with rats or other animals, this movie is under-stated rather than trying to be "in-your-face". To all appearances Willard is a normal, reasonably good-looking young man who has found himself in a frustrating and angering situation. Everything else on the surface seems normal as well. His mother is both dependent and whiny, but not weird. The house that plays an important part in the story is huge, old and somewhat decrepit, but it is not haunted or filled with outrageous decor. The other characters are also within the bounds of normal, even the somewhat overbearing neighbor Charlotte who tries to befriend Willard.
Willard, pretty much friendless, feckless and believing himself to be a failure, nevertheless finds success in training the rats that show up on his property. Except for his feelings for Socrates he is, however, often ambivalent about the rest of the rats and especially about Ben. Why this is we never exactly find out, but his ambivalence towards Ben is the fateful turn that leads to the climax of the story. I shan't dwell on the details of the story since I am assuming that most people interested in the movie are already familiar with them.
It is good to find a DVD version of this classic movie and I am hoping that eventually a more clear "remastered" version will become available.
It was a bargain to find this dvd even existing. For anyone out there who remembers and loves this movie like I do, hopefully its sequel, Ben, will be out on DVD soon. For those interested in books, Willard was based on the novel Ratman's Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert. It may be a trifle expensive to find a very good hardcopy of this one, but it is well worth it.
Compared to the sequel, Ben, which was like a made for TV movie. Highly recommend Willard.
Sandra Locke was great. This was before she married Clint Eastwood. Elsa Lanchester was Academy Award winning material!
That old house was way cool.
Crispin Glover was extremely creepy in the remake. This is the best of the bunch. A slice of history.
DVD quality: 1 star
My two star rating is given because this DVD was obviously a direct VHS tape transfer. After exhaustive research trying to find any DVD release I took a chance on this foreign production and was disappointed but not totally surprised. It was very difficult watching this movie. I hope at one point the production company will release a DVD with quality DVD. Its anyones guess why this movie is not being released in DVD region 1/ NTSC quality???
Joe D./ Annapolis MD