Way back in the year 2015, a nuclear war laid waste to the world, and now, in the year denoted 225 A.B., meaning "After the Bomb", society is divided into those who live below the ground and those who live above, braving the harsh environment and never the twain shall meet. A gang of these survivors who live on the surface, led by Kurt (Ottaviano Dell'Acqua), ride into a ghost town on their motorbikes to do some investigating, and stumble upon what looks like a research station. More importantly there is uncontaminated food there, which they are all delighted to find. But what happened to the previous tenants of the place?
Well, the title might offer a clue. What starts as a Mad Max 2 clone turns in the first five minutes to what could have been a straightforward revenge of nature horror, but for many Rats: Night of Terror plays pretty well as an unintentional comedy. Funnily enough, 1984 must have been the year for post-apocalyptic rat attacks, because James Herbert had produced the second sequel to his best of all rat attack novels, The Rats, in 1984 as well. Called Domain, it featured a group of survivors fighting for life against hordes of ravenous rodents, much like this film does.
Rats - Notte di terrore, as it was known in its native Italy, was a far less effective story of doom than Mr Herbert's work, and this was chiefly down to the lack of menace on the part of the titular villains. It's all very well rendering the small furry creatures as terrorising beasts on the page, but put them on screen and you'll find that they're somewhat less than terrifying no matter how many of them the stagehands wrangle towards the cast. We see early on the gang finding gnawed bodies to show us what the film's rats are capable of, but when they actually arrive they look as if they'd be happier with a lump of cheese.
And I suppose you could say a lump of cheese is what they get, only of the cinematic variety. Initially the bikers are very pleased to secure food and purified water, and one of them, the imaginatively-named Video, manages to get the computer running in the hope that it's a video game of the kind he has always wanted to play. It's not, but it does mention after a few pages of BASIC that some kind of termination of the previous occupants of this base has been carried out. Regardless of this ominous development, they still opt to stay the night.
That would be the Night of Terror, then. And as the rats begin to gather their forces, you cannot deny the film is amusing almost despite itself, wondering how the cast acheived the straight faces and frequent impassioned yelling required to sell the drama to us in the audience. At least they are doing their best, because the ratty co-stars obviously couldn't give a toss as they sit about looking bored, or worse, are thrown in bucketfuls over the latest character to meet their demise. As if painfully aware that none of this is remotely thrilling, the filmmakers created a rat conveyor belt where rubber rodents roll towards the screen: the effect, needless to say, is risible. As if this wasn't ridiculous enough, stick around for the twist ending where we discover which is best, humans or rats? The answer may lie somewhere in between... Music by Luigi Ceccarelli.