Monday, October 20, 2014

Willard (1971)

Director: Daniel Man

Writers: Gilbert Ralston, Stephen Gilbert

Composer: Alex North

Starring: Bruce Davison, Sondra Locke, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Borgnine, Michael Dante, Jody Gilbert, Williams Hansen, John Myhers, J. Pat O'Malley, Joan Shawlee

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Where your nightmares end...WILLARD begins.

Plot: A social misfit, Willard is made fun of by his co-workers, and squeezed out of the company started by his deceased father by his boss. His only friends are a couple of rats he raised at home, Ben and Socrates. (And their increasing number of friends) However, when one of them is killed at work, he goes on a rampage using his rats to attack those who have been tormenting him.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nope.

I've been wanting to see this for probably more than thirty years.  Worth the wait?  Nope.  It's not all that interesting except that I've seen the remake, WILLARD (2003), and it's neat to compare.  The remake is better.  The original isn't compelling, it's too leisurely paced and the payoff is minimal.  The actors do a good job (and what a great cast, too) but they don't go far enough and I'm talking mostly about Davison (Willard) and Borgnine (Mr. Martin).  This is where the remake got it right.  In the '71 film Willard isn't sympathetic enough and Martin isn't harsh enough.  I would really liked to have seen Borgnine a fierce and brutal man which he's certainly capable of.  He's too jolly and soft on Willard to make it believable and Willard doesn't seem as mentally screwed up as you'd think he would be to be pushed over the edge to do what he does.  It actually gives me more of an appreciation for the 2003 flick.  I was, though, taken aback that Alex North wrote the score.  He's one of my top favorite film composers and I completely forgot that this one was in his catalog.  It's pretty impressive that this picture had a guy like that writing the music. It makes sense, though, that he and the director worked on a few pictures together.  Even though I didn't dig this flick as much as I'd hoped, I'll still check out the sequel, BEN (1972).  And by the way, where the hell are these films on DVD?  The only way you can find them is on VHS.  It's a shame.

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