Take revenge using animals

By ouija85 | scuoladimostrithereturn | 12 Apr 2023

Year 1971, the film Willard directed by Daniel Mann is released in cinemas.

Inspired by the 1969 story Ratman's notebook by Stephen Gilbert, Willard and the mice can be defined as a pied piper in horror sauce.

Actor Bruce Davison plays Willard, a young man who in some respects resembles the Norman Bates of Psycho.

He too lives in a large house with his overprotective mother, has problems with the opposite sex and is shy and introverted.

And to make matters worse, his boss is an asshole.

During his twenty-seventh birthday party while alone in the garden of his house he gives a piece of birthday cake to a rat.

Soon more mice begin arriving at Willard's including a huge rat ,Ben, the smartest of the bunch.

And from that moment the relationship with the rats will strengthen more and more every day until he makes the decision to take revenge for the mistreatment suffered by his boss using his new friends as a tool.

I had already seen the leading actor Bruce Davison in two other good films, Frank Perry's Short Wild Days (1969) and Stuart Hagmann's Strawberries and Blood (1970), and he is still active today (among the last films in in which he starred is the 2012 Salem Witches directed by Rob Zombie) .

I would not like to dwell too much on this excellent film which, given its success at the time, gave rise to a fair number of films in which a person controls a one or a group of animals to use it as an instrument of revenge.

Very little had been circulated in Italy, no home video edition until the DVD released in 2012 for Jubal.

There is a good US DVD/Bluray Shout! Factory.

In 1972 a sequel was released, not up to the original, directed by Phil Karlson entitled Ben and in 2003 a kind of remake entitled Willard directed by Glen Morgan.

A little side note: in 1970 director Andy Milligan had directed a film about werewolves called Curse of the full moon.

The producer not satisfied with the result of the film forced Milligan to shoot other scenes in which mice appeared to take advantage of the success of Willard and the mice which came out shortly after.

Il film venne quindi rimontato con le scene aggiuntive con i topi (2 topi si chiamano Willard e Ben) e rititolato The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! in the 1972.

The first inspired filmWillard came out in 1972.

It is titled Stanley and is directed by William Grefe who in 1976 then directed another horror with animals, Mako: The Jaws of Death.

In Mako a young diver receives an amulet from a sorcerer which makes him immune to sharks and for this reason he will be able to become his friend.

Bad guys trick him into using this power for illegal trafficking, but as soon as he realizes it, he'll use the sharks to get revenge.

But let's get back to talking about Stanley.

Tim Ochopee, a Seminole Indian Vietnam veteran decides to live in a primitive cabin along the Everglades (The Everglades is a subtropical swampy region located in the southern portion of the state of Florida, specifically with parts in Monroe, Collier, Palm counties Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward) along with a horde of snakes, his only friends.

To earn some money, he sells snake venom for medical use to a local hospital.

His favorite snake is a rattlesnake named Stanley.

After some bad guys kil his father Tim decides to find the culprits and punish them using snakes.

A good bluray edition has been released by Vinegar Syndrome

Only one year later, in 1974, Snakes aka Fangs was released.

Another American film directed by Art Names (his only film as a director) in which a person uses snakes for his vengeance.

Snakey Bender is a lonely old man who collects snakes and when they piss him off he uses them to get revenge.

Unlike the previous two films, this one has a more comedy/horror register a la Motel Hell (1980 film directed by Kevin Connor) and the result is very effective.

Snakey Bender is played by Les Tremayne an actor with a very vast film curriculum among which I would like to at least mention Byron Haskin's The War of the Worlds (1953), John Sherwood's The Monolith Monsters (1957) and The Angry Red Planet (1959) by Ib Melchior.

I think that there is only one American vhs video edition of this film and nothing else

In 1975 the Chinese film She sha shou aka The killer snakes directed by Chih-Hung Kuei was released, another film in which a boy uses snakes to take revenge for the wrongs he has suffered.
Zhihong is a poor, lonely young man who lives in a squalid shack and is treated badly by everyone except one girl, Xiujuan, who has a stall in the market near where Zhihong lives.

One day he happens to find a wounded snake, leftover from a restaurant (I remember that in China there are several recipes based on snakes) and he cures it.

By doing so he will gain the sympathy of many other snakes that he will use to take revenge on all those who had treated him badly, including Xiujuan herself.

Produced by the Shaw Brothers, famous above all for their martial arts films, The killer snakes is a cruel and effective film.

It was released on DVD in at least 2 editions.

One American from Image Entertainment and one Chinese from Celestial / IVL.

In 1976 the American film Kiss of the Tarantula was released directed by Chris Munger a director who directed only one other film in 1974, Black Starlet.

Susan (played by the beautiful Suzanna Ling in her only test as an actress), a girl with a passion for spiders discovers that her uncle is her mother's lover and that the two are conspiring to kill her father who is an undertaker .

She then decides to use a tarantula to kill her mother.

Several years pass, we discover that Susan has grown up and has become a breeder of spiders.

She will take revenge on anyone who torments her or her arachnid friends, including her uncle who is attracted to her.

Assuming that I'm terrified of spiders, I consider this film successful with a morbid and unhealthy atmosphere (the fact that Susan's father is a gravedigger helps).

Let's move on to 1978 when another film with snakes used as instruments of revenge is released, namely Jennifer directed by Brice Mack.

The director has directed only a few other films and this is his only horror film.

More than anything he dealt with cartoons including the famous Fantasia of 1940.

In this case the film is a successful mix between Willard and the mice and Carrie the gaze of Satan 1976 film directed by Brian De Palma.

Jennifer Baylor (Lisa Pelikan who years later will be among the protagonists of Ghoulies) is a red-haired girl from West Virginia.

Her family is not very rich and Jennifer is lucky enough to receive a scholarship to a prestigious private school.

Here she will meet rich girls who don't look kindly on her.

Fortunately, Jennifer manages to control with her mental power of the dangerous snakes with which she will be able to teach a lesson to those who wrong him.

There is a Kino Lorber Blu-ray have been released.

We finish with Play dead from 1983 directed by Peter Wittman, a director who directed only one other film in 1984 (Ellie).

The protagonist of this film is played by the good Yvonne De Carlo who has a lot of films in her curriculum including several horror films as well as the TV series The Munsters (which began in 1964) where she played Lily Munster.

Among the horror/sci-fi films in which she has appeared, I would mention at least American Gothic (1988) by John Hough, The Invisible Force (1968) by Byron Haskin, Satan's Cheerleaders (1977) by Greydon Clark, Mirror Mirror (1990) by Marina Sargenti ( where he starred with another actress that horror fans know well, Karen Black), Nocturna (1979) by Harry Hurwitz and Ork (1988) by John Carl Buechler.

Hester Ramsey is a deranged old lady who lives alone in a large mansion with her Rottweiler.

She hates her sister who stole her husband all those years ago

She will then decide to take revenge on her, her husband and their family by using the Rottweiler as her weapon thanks to her powers that she acquired with black magic.

The Rottweiler will kill family members in the most bizarre of ways and not just by biting their throats.

There is a dvd distribuited by Troma.

Also in the film There was a little girl aka Madhouse of 1981 directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis a dog, a German shepherd, trained to commit the murders was used.

But there are plenty of films in which animals are used to kill (the first that comes to mind is the handsome Mamba from 1988 directed by Mario Orfini or even The Abominable Dr. Phibes from 1971 directed by Robert Fuest), in this article I wanted to focus exclusively on those films clearly inspired by Willard.

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