Willard (1971) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: Daniel Mann
Starring: Bruce Davison, Elsa Lanchester, Sondra Locke
Rated: PG/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available From Scream Factory
Willard Stiles (Bruce Davison, Insidious: Chapter 4) is a young man with a big problem. He lives alone in a crumbling house with his ailing mother (Elsa Lanchester, Arnold, Bride of Frankenstein). His boss, Al Martin (Ernest Borgnine, Escape from New York) 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 the film Willard, we are with a rather strange guy of the same name who works for a company that was stolen from his dead father by the man who now runs it. He lives in a big house with his mother who is also a weird one with some very questionable friends. With everything seeming rather in the dumps for the guy he befriends the rats in the backyard that his mother wanted him to kill, one of them is named Ben and would become the leader of this rat group that lets’s Willard tell them what to do, to a point, simply because he feeds them. Things happen and we watch as Willard is pushed more and more to a point. These things happen even with him catching the eye of a new girl who’s working where he works. When things reach the boiling point things do seem to be over about as soon as they start and while this is a character film, you can’t help but feel our boy in question is about as by the numbers as one can be. So, if I am, to be honest with you folks, Willard isn’t all that awesome of a horror film or a drama. The acting might be a bit exaggerated and all over the place but that still doesn’t mean it has any performances to save it.
In a rare case, this might be one time where the remake is better than the original. The rat, Ben, might be the most compelling character we have on the screen here and that could also be perhaps why the sequel to this movie is named after the rat than anyone else in that movie. I admit I’m a bit hit and miss with early 70’s horror films and this was a case where the movie really just seemed to miss me by a mile when it comes to things I enjoy. We have a slow pace, no real blood to mention outside of the death of a rat, and I don’t think any character is really likable or has any real motivation outside Ben the rat. I will say that the movie at least has a much better transfer than you’d probably expect and that part of the release was at least very nice to look at. So, if you already dig this movie you will probably enjoy this release with the transfer and the interview in the extras, but outside of that this movie wasn’t much to write home about overall in my opinion.
– NEW 4K Scan Of The Original camera Negative
– NEW Audio Commentary With Actor Bruce Davison
– NEW Interview With Actor Bruce Davison
– Theatrical Trailer
– TV Spot
– Radio Spots
– Still Gallery
Quality of Transfer: 100%