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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Rodentz (2003)

"You little bastards think you can outsmart me?"
- Douglas (Robert Broughton)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: August 26, 2003

Stars: Allen Lee Haff, Leah Rowan
Other Stars: Guy Vieg, David Bradley, Richard Peterson, Alexandra Townsend, Derek Hoffman. Robert Broughton
Director: Miles Feldman

Manufacturer: DirectorSite
MPAA Rating: R for violence/gore and some sexuality
Run Time: 01h:30m:27s
Release Date: August 19, 2003
UPC: 012236142744
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- D+C-B- C

DVD Review

One of the things I have learned after watching countless "mutated animal" films is that one should never pour glowing green experimental liquid down a drain, especially in a building with a noticeable rat problem. That's the premise of this tired retread of the "attacking rats" school of filmmaking, from writer/director Miles Feldman, in which lab assistant Walter (Allen Lee Haff) dumps a beaker full of green goo down the drain, on the heels of his accidently releasing a crateful of rats earmarked to be destroyed. A brilliant career move like this obviously doesn't sit well with his cranky boss Professor Irwin (Guy Vieg)

In an attempt to give Rodentz a bit of an edge, Feldman introduces the concept of not just a pack of really hungry rats gone bonkers from some errant medical goo, but the presence of some sort of mutated six-foot-tall super rat, who acts as their leader. We're given a red POV when we're supposed to be seeing through the eyes of the big fella, and though this is a low-rent effect, it works much better than any actual appearances by the giant rat, where it looks like a man wearing a lumpy Muppet costume. There are plenty of shots of rats scurrying along pipes, but most of the attack sequences feature actors careening around wildly with what appear to be stuffed rats attached to their chests.

A film like this needs food for the rats, and that comes in the convenient form of a cat, a janitor, Professor Irwin, and a handful of Walter's annoying friends who stop by the lab on the very same night the hungry rodents are on the prowl. With the exception of Walter's gal-pal Alicia (Leah Rowan), the others practically have the words "rat food" carved in their foreheads, and there isn't much to do but wait until each of them gets overrun by rats and eaten. As the cast dwindles, Rodentz builds to an inevitable confrontation between Walter and the big master rat, complete with a mass of goofy explosions.

Generally I'm a big fan of low-budget horror, and I've been known to wallow happily in all sorts of Z-grade cinematic slop. Feldman's Rodentz, however, never seems comes across as all that threatening to make it as a horror film, even with a six-foot rat hiding in the shadows, and none of the characters are charismatic enough to warrant generating even the tiniest bit of emotion.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: For a low-budget film, the 1.33:1 full-frame transfer isn't too shabby. Colors are bright, and black levels are pretty respectable throughout. A bit of dirt and grain show up in a few establishing shots, but overall a rather nice-looking transfer for this straight-to-DVD outing.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The middle-of-the-road 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo track is about what you would expect, a clear simple audio presentation lacking any real depth, but offering some moderate imaging across the front channels. Dialogue is understandable, and the presentation is more than suitable for the material.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Miles Feldman, Peter Dressel
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only supplement here is a fairly dry full-length commentary track from writer/director Miles Feldman and producer Peter Dressel that sounds like the participants were sitting too far from the mikes. As for content, they discuss working with rats and their version of animal wrangling, and spend most of the track identifying establishing shots and explaining what was shot where, which makes for not particularly entertaining listening.

The disc is cut into 18 chapters, and includes Spanish subtitles.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

The whole "scientifically altered rats" genre has been done better, and even the inclusion of a hungry six-footer can't make this one tolerable.

 


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