Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Rattus Italiano

Some Bruno Mattei borrowed with thanks.... I've just polished off James Herbert's 1974 debut novel The Rats, and while there's no explicit association between Mattei's post-apocalyptic thriller and Herbert's novel, I very much approached the book as if it were an early 80's Italian splatter movie. I don't wish to belittle Herbert's skills as a writer, but imagining the film as an over the top Italian import acclimatized me to some of the more ludicrous parts of the novels - an infant torn to shreds in its cot, a nymphomaniac alcoholic stripped to the bone, and in one of the book's biggest set pieces, a London Underground station besieged by hordes of flesh-hungry rats. Mattei would need a considerably bigger conveyor belt for that sequence but the films of Mattei and his contemporaries are the perfect foil for Herbert's novel - neither of them apologetic about being in the Horror business. Thinking about it now, The Rats could have easily ran as a series in those early issues of 2000AD, perhaps Invasion, with rats replacing Volgans, the hard-as-nails anti-establishment Bill Savage the only thing standing in the way of the UK being reduced to a vermin-infested wasteland... Lair is next...

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