JERSEY RETRO

“Willard” (1971) was a surprise hit about a nebbishy young man whose only friends are … rats. The sequel, “Ben” (1972), yielded a Michael Jackson song.

Ever wonder why there were so many movies about animals attacking humans in the 1970s? Like, “Frogs” and “Night of the Lepus” and “The Food of the Gods” and “Stanley” and “Empire of the Ants” and “The Swarm” and “The Bees” and “Grizzly” and “Ssssssss”?

The movie to thank — or blame — makes its Blu-ray/DVD debut this week, along with its sequel: “Willard” (1971) and “Ben” (1972).

Yes, there was a precedent in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (1963). But the film that, in earnest, kick-started the so-called “animal revenge” genre of the ’70s was Daniel Mann’s “Willard,” a surprise low-budget hit about a nebbishy young man whose only friends are … rats.

A fresh look via new HD transfers reveals “Willard” is not just a movie exploiting our fear of skittering rodents. It’s a black comedy — practically a parody of Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960) — with droll, macabre turns by some veteran character actors.

Setup: Willard Stiles (Bruce Davison) works at a drab office under sadistic boss Martin (Ernest Borgnine), and lives with his ailing, nitpicking …read more

Source:: New Jersey Real -Time Entertainment

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