Friday, March 19, 2010
THE RATS ARE COMING, THE WEREWOLVES ARE HERE! Curse of The Mooney Family
By Steve D. Stones
Animal rights activists would certainly have a difficult time viewing this film. There is an unsettling scene of a spray painted white rat being tortured with candle wax, stabbed, then nailed to a board. I found this scene very hard to stomach. Director Andy Milligan even named two of the rats in the film Ben and Willard to cash in on the box office success of the 1972 Willard film. However, the rat scenes must have been filmed three years later, since the film officially began production in 1969. Producer William Mishkin was said to have imposed the rat subplot on the film to connect it to Willard.
Originally entitled The Curse of The Full Moon, The Rats Are Coming, The Werewolves Are Here follows at the end of a series of period piece films that Milligan directed in England. The film concerns a dying, eccentric old man and his family, the Mooneys, living in a desolate section of 19th century England. The Mooney’s harbor many dark secrets, including the fact that they are all werewolves.
The film opens with a pair of bullies beating Malcolm Mooney, played by Milligan regular Berwick Kaler. Malcolm is dowsed in gasoline, and then set on fire. The scene is shot with a kinetic sense of chaos typical of Milligan’s shooting style. Malcolm is the most dangerous of the Mooney family, and is chained to a cell day and night. Somehow he managed to get free of his chains.
The film also has a unique cameo appearance by Milligan as a local gunsmith. Diana Mooney, played by Jackie Skarvellis, the youngest daughter and, goes to buy a pistol from the gunsmith. She also asks him to melt down a crucifix and make it into several silver bullets to protect herself from her werewolf family members.
Father Mooney claims to be 180 years old and is kept alive with a series of injections. Monica, played by Hope Stansbury, is jealous of her younger sister Diana because she is married to Gerald and is a successful medical student. This is why father Mooney asks for her aide. He wants her to continue his bizarre medical experiments after his death. Diana does not share the shame mother as her older brothers and sisters, which may be another reason why Monica hates her so much. Gerald and Diana also reveal that they will be having a baby soon.
The Rats Are Coming, The Werewolves Are Here is said to be Milligan’s weakest and most uneventful films in a series of several he created in England. Although I disagree with this assessment of the film, critics may feel this way because the film runs a bit longer than any of his other films made in England, and the script is padded with much more dialogue between characters.
I recommend that you rent or buy the VideoKart DVD version of The Rats Are Coming, The Werewolves Are Here because it also contains Milligan’s Bloodthirsty Butchers. The two films make an excellent double feature on a Saturday night. Some of the library music used in the film can be heard in the 1950s TV show Rocky Jones Space Ranger and the cult classic The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Enjoy.