Ben (1972)

   

Produced & Directed by: Phil Karlson

Written by: Gilbert Ralston

Starring:

Lee Montgomery .... Danny
.... Cliff Kirtland
Arthur O'Connell .... Bill Hatfield
Rosemary Murphy .... Beth Garrison
Meredith Baxter .... Eve Garrison
Kaz Garas .... Joe Greer
Paul Carr .... Kelly
Richard Van Vleet .... Reade

Special Appearance:

James Luisi .... Ed

Release Date: Theatrical: June 23, 1972

Rating:

 

After Willard is murdered by his own rats these rodents start to invade the small town invading stores as well as killing many people but a lonely young boy with health issues named Danny (Lee Montgomery) befriends with the leader of the rats named Ben as he helps the rats from safety but more problems start to happen elsewhere and a detective named Cliff Kirtland () gets the city locals to plan and find out the rats hideouts in the sewage system to snuff them out.

 

An impressive beginning for the film where the last one ended off involving Willard planning some rat poison and the rat Ben watching him as well as the final showdown while we spot the opening credits occuring in the film. Alot of this looked enjoyable to watch as well as the rats killing this person and then we get into the picture as it takes place right after that with the police and neighbors watching the house as well as the detectives trying to get in to investigate. Plus we have an amusing moment by little Danny wanting to still watch the outcome of it all and his Mom telling him that they need to go which draws in your attention knowing that the story is going to be on them later on in the story.
Also a perfect well focused on a situation with an officer spotting a cat going into a cellar and then clawing near some sort of a counter and then running away which adds some nice mysterious moments on what could be behind it as well as rats attacking this person which added some okay timing into all of thisbut yet not looking overly terrifying. Still nice look at rats jumping on him and killing him.
A nice heartwarming moment with little Danny entertaining himself singing and playing with his puppets along with Ben watching him as this looked totally family oriented and cute as well as him communicating with Ben and slowly giving him crumbs from his sandwich as this looked nicely focused as well.
Another moment with Danny playing the piano creating a song for Ben as well as his sister Eve and Mother Beth talking to him about this as it looked nice and peaceful. Plus it was a real creative scene while we watch on what goes on here.
then there's good energetic moments with him playing his harmonica around Ben as well as creating a rat puppet. All of this looked uplifting on a kid really enjoying himself that he has a friend for a pet.
Perfect moment on someone driving his truck and then we spot rats starting to climb on him which looked more funny than scary and too cute as well. However great terrifying reactions as well as the truck crashing and exploding which is a nice pointer in a horror story.
We spot a good dark moment on someone stocking food on shelves at a grocery store during after hours as this leaves you a deadly impression that the rats are soon going to invade this rea. It looks hilarious when they push over some cereal boxes as well as them eating through this and spotting the disatrous mess they cause at the store which looked funny too and a bit terrifying on this invasion.
A nice moment with Danny telling Ben on what is not a good thing on invading the store and causing to scare people which is something you don't always spot in a horror flick especially to the one leading it's troops as this was another perfect attention grabber.
Nice dark scenery with Danny going into a storm sewer with Ben to see where he lives as well as a near suspenseful moment on the gang of rats ready to attack this child but Ben squeaking to let them know he's okay which looked cleverly done.
Another great situation is when Danny walks outside in an alleyway we spot a bigger kid coming up to him as you get the feeling that he's gonna bully him which works well into the film and knowing Ben and his troop of rats are gonna attack this bully to protect little Danny but yet when this happens the situation doesn't look as intense as it was intended to be. However a nice written in sequence regardless.
Perfect moments with two people going down a sewage system to try and snuff out some rats with them attacking and killing one of them and the other one trying to climb up and escape and rats are crawling on him as this was a nice dark horror moment used in the story.
A nice adventureous showdown with Danny going in the sewers trying to warn the rats about what the city is planning to do in the sewage system with some surprising moments on water pouring down near him as well as his sister Eve falling in trying to find him as well as good moments on her being fearful of the rats swarming nearby. Plus suspenseful situations with flames blowing in the areas and the two of them trying to dodge these incidents. Also neat camera shots looking down with the people throwing the flames towards the rats and them scurring away as this was a real pleaser to watch.
Perfect calm moment with Danny walking back home grieving about his friend which will make you cry too along with a sort of happy moment nearing the end and a nice touching moment on what happens here making it a necessary ending for sure.
Bottom line is that this sequel to Willard has a bit more class and comes across as cute which is rare in a horror story but yet a nice perspective on a child loving a rat compared to grown ups hating this messy scavenging rodents and their understanding them more so. This would somewhat be considered almost a family type of horror flick to watch as it makes you feel sorry for these rats as well as making you understand an ill child having a hard time making friends as well.

The acting is very well performed in which we have a wonderful performance by former child actor Lee Montgomery (Danny) as a creative kid who loves to entertain himself and is curious over things in which he was well focused into these subjects and studied this role inside out. Has a great singing presence when playing with his puppets or playing the piano. Also does a nice focused job while talking to a rat in which he showed a perfect focus on these situations too. Does well reacting to be nearly sick due to his health which seemed believeable while doing this. Also was good with his sarcasm and lies when being confronted in a scene offering good energy here. Does well with his crying and grieving near the end of his performance as he draws all of this in terrifically.
(Cliff Kirtland) pulled it off quite powerfully as a detective in the film really making his presence strong like and serious whenever he tries to solve a case. Also does a good job with his discussions just pounding his part down solidly. Plus was good by acting aggressive, impatient and demanding when forcing some answers from someone in which he came across as perfectly nasty when doing this. Let's out a nice laughter after the terrifying incidents which shones on well.
Rosemary Murphy
(Beth Garrison) drew in her role well as a caring type of mother along with having a good seriouness into her part. She also reacts very well to different situations along with showing a good serious and stern behavior whenever she had to do this. Also shows a good fearful attitude too when she spots rats or other moments like this.
Meredith Baxter (Eve Garrison) was superb as her wholesome and healthy girl next door persona as well as having a perfect mellow and calmness in her speaking. She sure looked different in this flick compared to her other work in shows and proves to be a worthy character actress. Does well with her screaming and upsetting emotions too especially in a sewage system acting perfectly alarmed with the rats and other surroundings. Two thumbs up for this actress indeed.

Alot of the same strong orchestral music like you heard in Willard as we hear alot of nice clear flute playing along with deep trombone and other type of horn sounds which really stood out terrifically. Plus we hear the odd suspenseful piano playing. Some nice drum rolling the odd times too. Every type of music was incredibly powerful as composer Walter Scharf should be pleased with himself since it sounds very traditional as well as crime sounding too.

A perfect songtrack sung by the king of pop and former teen idol the late Michael Jackson which is of course the title song as it sounds perfectly peaceful during a moment near the end of the film when the character Danny is crying while walking home after the rats were snuffed out of the sewage system as it adds a nice touch and then the song pauses for a brief moment when he discovers a moment that makes him happy and the song continues while the credits are rolling as this is a perfect memorable moment for the song as well in the film. A great ballad for an ending of a movie such as this one.

Danny: [singing] Start the day, you've been asleep too long. Start the day and sing a happy song. Smile, smile at everyone you meet and dance your way down each street. Oompa oompa oompa oompa oompa oompa oompa oompa oompa oompa oom pa pa./Oompa oompa oompa oompa oompa oompa oompa oom oom oom oom pa. Start the day, it's time to rise and shine. Off we go, the world is looking fine. Get dressed up, put on your Sunday best. Tomorrow you all can rest.

Danny: [crying] You'll get well, Ben, and I'll get well. We'll get well, Ben [places Ben on a handkerchief]
Danny: We'll get well, Ben. No one's gonna hurt one of my friends. No, sir. [gets out first aid kit, grabs a cotton swab and gently rubs it against Ben's wound]
Danny: You're the only friend I have. I love you, Ben.