HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
Honeymoon
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
   
 
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
   
 
  Of Unknown Origin Surviving the Rat Race
Year: 1983
Director: George Pan Cosmatos
Stars: Peter Weller, Jennifer Dale, Lawrence Dane, Kenneth Welsh, Louis Del Grande, Shannon Tweed, Keith Knight, Maury Chaykin, Leif Anderson, Jimmy Tapp, Gaye Garfinkle, Earl Pennington, Jacklin Webb, Bronwen Mantel, Monik Nantel
Genre: Horror, Comedy, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bart Hughes (Peter Weller), a mild-mannered, high-flying executive involved in corporate mergers and acquisitions sees his beautiful wife Meg (Shannon Tweed) and young son Peter (Leif Anderson) off on holiday. He stays behind at their costly, luxurious brownstone apartment in New York to work on an important project that could earn him a promotion. While work is stressful enough back home Bart finds himself distracted by a rat lurking in the walls. The increasingly destructive rodent wreaks havoc with the furniture, chews through wires and proves alarmingly resistant to Bart's best efforts to remove it. Eventually, to Bart's horror, he discovers the rat is unusually large, abnormally intelligent and seemingly bent on making his life a living nightmare. With Bart increasingly unhinged things boil down to a savage battle between man and beast.

A decidedly offbeat monster movie, Of Unknown Origin eschews the straightforward killer rodent antics of Willard (1971) and Deadly Eyes (1982) and heads down a more rewarding, ambiguous, darkly satirical route. Adapting the novel written by the grandly-named Chauncey G. Parker III, screenwriter Brian Taggert implies certain allegorical parallels between the man versus rodent battle at the Hughes household and the wider, equally destructive 'rat race' occurring in the world at large in the 1980s. As addressed in the hilarious dinner party scene where Bart gets carried away discussing the effects rats have on the global economy to the disgust of his fellow guests, people are so preoccupied with work and money they fail to notice society is being torn apart. Under immense pressure to score bigger deals, advance to the next rung, earn more money and buy more expensive toys for his fancy home, Bart begins to crack. With impressive skill and subtlety, George Pan Cosmatos charts the hero's slow descent into madness through disorientating sound effects (the growing cacophony of mid-town traffic, the squelch of a knife through a chicken dinner), vivid, scary dream sequences (including a memorable shock moment with future DTV erotic thriller staple Shannon Tweed) and, most notably, a grounded, nuanced turn from future Robocop (1987) Peter Weller. Weller's quirky, endearing performance leaves Bart Hughes far more sympathetic than most yuppie-in-peril characters in Eighties cinema.

Throughout the film, despite icky glimpses of the sweaty, snarling rodent we are never entirely sure whether the malevolent creature is real or the product of Bart's fevered imagination. Aside from a few witty encounters with a wisecracking exterminator (Louis Del Grande), Bart never mentions his rat problem to anyone at the office. Even when Bart's concerned secretary (Jennifer Dale) ventures inside his rat-infested basement Cosmatos maintains an effective, unsettling aura of ambiguity. The lack of any clear-cut explanation for the rat's unusual intelligence and savage grudge against Bart may prove frustrating or ridiculous to some but does not hinder the film from being a compelling suspense piece. Cosmatos creates a palpable sense of unease and otherworldiness with his prowling low-angle rat-cam, teasing use of reflective surfaces and gross-out puppet effects (the odd shot of a real rat proves less effective and too cute), staging at least one common nightmare scenario when the rodent bursts out of a toilet. The film is well paced with sleek photography and an ominous score by Kenneth Wannberg. Still, as a study of paranoia and delusion Of Unknown Origin pulls a few punches concluding on a satisfyingly ambiguous note that it still upbeat enough for the mainstream crowd. One imagines a more nuanced filmmaker like say David Cronenberg would have expanded the psychological dimensions and social satire whereas Cosmatos concentrates on cranking up the suspense and mayhem much like his more widely known action films: e.g. Rambo: First Blood, Part 2 (1985), Escape to Athena (1979), Cobra (1986). He and Weller later re-teamed for the far less substantial underwater monster romp Leviathan (1989).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2110 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: