Of Unknown Origin (1983)

July 5, 2009 - 3:56am | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: 80's, George P. Cosmatos, Jennifer Dale, Kenneth Welsh, killer rats, Lawrence Dane, Louis Del Grande, of unknown origin, Peter Weller, Shannon Tweed, underrated

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George P. Cosmatos
Peter Weller, Jennifer Dale, Lawrence Dane, Kenneth Welsh, Louis Del Grande, Shannon Tweed

Of Unknown Origin is probably one of the best and least known man-versus-beast (or more specifically vermin) flicks out there. Peter Weller combined with an oversized nuisance of a rat is just pure gold, in my opinion. I remember blind-renting this film growing up and really enjoying it. It was rare that I'd come across a movie that I'd actually like at the time, and I recently felt the urge to revisit the film to see if it still holds up to my expectations. And yes, it does; maybe even more-so now than when I first saw it.

Directed by George P. Cosmatos (who'd later go on to direct films like Rambo 2, Cobra, and Tombstone) we're delivered a truly unique horror film that's creative, intelligent, and shows how even a perfectly sane and wealthy business man can lose his cool if driven to the brink by a minute creature such as a rat. Unlike a lot of other man-against-beast films, we're shown many scenes through the rat's perspective, from crawling between cracks in the walls, to getting a "over the shoulder" look at what hes got his eyes on. This direction essentially makes the rat itself a character and gives us more reason to hate it just as much as Peter Weller.

So the movie follows a wealthy business man who stays behind to work on a project that could earn his promotion, while his wife and son visit family out of state. Unbeknownst to him, he's not alone in his newly renovated New York townhouse, because he now has a hairy little roomie that'll stop at nothing to ruin the man's life. That's essentially what it seems to be like as the film plays out -- the rat constantly outsmarting the man, making it a duel of wills and wit, as the man goes to the brink of insanity in trying to be rid of this infestation. After the poison, traps, and exterminators have failed, he finally decides to put on his rat-killin' outfit and busts out his bat full of nails to take out the foul creature.

The movie never has a dull moment and even proves to be an interesting film full of factoids on these vermin. Although we're given supporting roles from the wife (Shannon Tweed) and co-workers, the movie is pretty much just the man and the rat, since towards the end he spends the rest of his time trying to dispose of the thing. This is a flick that relies more on facts and brilliant story-telling than a high body count and gore.

In my opinion one of the best and more underrated man-versus-beast flicks available right now. A battle of wills and wits, the movie focuses more developing characters (such as the man's descent into insanity) than blood, and uses a real-life every-day creature to give us an almost plausible situation. Give this film a check.

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FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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