The double whammy of Willard (1971) and Ben (1972) sees a killer rat and his pack wreck havoc on suburbia. The films might not ring a bell in the 21st Century (some might remember Glen Morgan’s 2003 remake of Willard) but there’s much to be enjoyed in these glorious blu-ray releases from Second Sight Films.
Bruce Davison is Willard, the put upon titular character who befriends a rat named Ben. His boss, played by Ernest Borgnine makes his life miserable, but soon he gets his revenge by using his rodent friends to raise hell. The sequel, Ben is much more of a horror film, and this time Willard‘s favourite pet causes even more problems under the not very watchful eye of Lee Montgomery’s bullied loner.
Both Willard and Ben are interesting character studies wrapped-up in a creature-horror feature. Bruce Davison impresses in Willard, a Norman Bates-y type character who is bullied by a bullish Borgnine. Sondra Locke is also affective as hs love interest and the film really works because of the smaller moments. Ben builds on the horror motifs, picking up as a direct continuation of its predecessor. It puts more focus on the rats, but it’s also an enjoyable early 1970s horror, just before the slasher flick took the genre onto a darker, bloodier plain.
Both Willard and Ben are wonderfully remastered, scoring points with TV Spots and trailers, as well as new interviews and audio commentaries from Bruce Davison and Lee Montgomery. Perfect stuff.