James Herbert’s “The Rats” is one of the all time great horror novels, featuring grisly scenes where mutant black rats en masse attack humans trapped in confined spaces. Nothing is spared in describing how people meet their fate at the hand of The Rats – people are eaten alive, eyes eaten, tongues devoured, testicles ripped off – and they die in agony.
Even if anyone survives, a single rat bite ensures that the victim will contract an acute form of Weil’s disease that causes their skin to be stretched so tight over their skeletons it rips to pieces, causing yet another agonising form of death.
To teenagers like me, the novel was notorious for its sex scenes, including the immortal line “You couldn’t fuck a polo mint with that!”
Copies were passed around, ending up well thumbed and dog eared especially around the “crucial” sections.
There were follow ups – “Lair” which was equally gory and sex filled, featured the typical horror trope of “cheating wife gets eaten horribly” and a priest being consumed after finding the rats digging up the graves in his churchyard. Then there was “Domain” in which the mutant rats terrorised the London survivors of a nuclear holocaust and added radiation sickness and rabies to the already churning mass of four legged slaughter.
There is a fourth graphic novel apparently, but I’ve never seen it.
The success of the novels makes you wonder why no-one has ever had a go at making a film. Well they have – it’s just that they were awful. With modern CGI it might be possible to have convincing killer mutant rats, but painting gerbils black just doesn’t cut it!
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 06.11.18