Directed by Jeff Leroy
Cast: Tasha Tacosa, Ford Austin, Eric Flenner, Randal Malone
Shriek Show / Region 1 / Not Rated / 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital Stereo / 107 minutes
Disc Extras: Original Trailers / Outtakes / Hollywood Premiere / Alternate Opening and Ending Scenes
I dub Rat Scratch Fever the ultimate b-horror movie! This is the real deal, folks. Cheese of epic proportions! Gory set pieces by the pound! Indie energy! Stop motion effects! Rat Scratch Fever delivers the goods, bar none.
The special effects are the true star of Rat Scratch Fever. Real rats are visually blown up to look like giant rats. Dummy rats are used as cannon fodder. Old-school computer animation and unconvincing green screens are constantly used. Remote control cars, toy tanks, military vehicles that look like G.I. Joe toys, and city sets are thrown at you with the aplomb of a director who thinks they’re making a big-budget movie. The movie’s a parade of old-school effects right out of the book of Brett Piper on acid. That’s what gives Rat Scratch Fever its true charm.
The plot is easy: Astronauts from the “future” arrive to study a far away planet full of rats and are immediately attacked. Only one delectable female escapes back to earth. A special section of the military, headed by the strangest robot guy I’ve ever seen named Dr. Steel, try to infiltrate this woman who is carrying the rat threat in her body. The woman’s husband tries to help her escape in one piece. Many cowboys and indians-type chase scenes later, the story takes us to the craziest rat war climax in cinematic history.
That said, there are some criticisms, which mostly have to do with the running time. Considering the film is almost two hours when it should have been eighty minutes, some of the fight scenes come off as repetitive. Most horror movies also have a hard time sustaining their second acts, this film being no exception. The second act focuses on the romantic element between the heroine and her husband, which wasn’t all that compelling. Don’t take this as a reason not to see the film. These are minor gripes. What I’ve seen here makes me proud to be a mega fan of B-movie cinema.
Shriek Show’s “Fresh Meat” package is rounded out nicely by an inclusion of fun extras. I enjoyed the outtake reel involving the low-budget special effects and the challenges they gave the filmmakers pulling them off. There’s also a feature involving opening night of Rat Scratch Fever at a local theatre, that’s a fun peek at the ambitious low-budget filmmaker and his amicable cast. The image and audio quality of the film is of a good standard considering this is no budget cinema. Highly recommended, B-movie fans. You must see Rat Scratch Fever!