Released in a strange time for horror movies in the early '70s, Willard and Ben belong to that animals-gone-wild subgenre that brought us other cheesy classics like Night of the Lepus and Frogs. These two "attack rats" movies from 1971 and 1972 were the ideal drive-in delights, and they still retain a certain nostalgic innocence for me, since they were some of the first trailers I ever saw on TV as a nerdy young child. I still get the chills every time I see the young Bruce Davison commanding his pack of gnawing rats to "tear him up!"
Now thanks to the cinephiles at Scream Factory, Willard and Ben are both making their Blu-ray and DVD premieres on May 16, 2017, whiskers and all, featuring sparkling new 4K digital scans, brand-new bonus material, audio commentary and interview with Bruce Davison, new audio commentary and interview with actor Lee Montgomery, theatrical trailers, TV spots, still galleries, radio spots and more.
Check out the trailers for both of these minor classics coming to home video below and the King of Pop singing "Ben" at the 1973 Academy Awards, which is probably the only Oscar-nominated tune in history written about an intelligent killer rat.
In Willard, Willard Stiles (Bruce Davison) is a young man with a big problem. He lives alone in a crumbling house with his ailing mother (Elsa Lanchester). His boss, Al Martin (Ernest Borgnine) is a vulgar, cruel man who stole his business from Willard’s father and is now working Willard to death at his factory job. Lonely, depressed and isolated, Willard is on the verge of a breakdown when he makes a new friend: Ben, one of the many rats who inhabit his dilapidated home. Not only can Willard communicate with the rodent, but he can actually command him to do his bidding. Using Ben and his furry friends as instruments of retaliation, Willard commands his pets to carry out his vengeance…
In Ben, detective sergeant Cliff Kirtland (Joseph Campanella) investigates the horrifying murder of Willard Stiles by a band of rats, he discovers that the rats are now an organized army, and he must destroy the murderous rodents before it is too late. But the rats, led by Ben, the only survivor of the Willard attack, take to the challenge with full force and little fear.
(Via Coming Soon)