Willard (1971)


Directed by:
Written by:Gilbert Ralston
Stephen Gilbert (Novel)


Bruce Davison .... Willard Stiles
Sondra Locke .... Joan
Ernest Borgnine .... Al Martin
.... Henrietta Stiles

Michael Dante .... Brandt
J. Pat O'Malley .... Jonathan Farley
Jody Gilbert .... Charlotte Stassen
Joan Shawlee .... Alice Rickles

Release Date: Theatrical: June 18, 1971




A social misfit named Willard Stiles (Bruce Davison) is constantly made fun of at his work mainly by his boss Al Martin (Ernest Borgnine) and doesn't have it great at home with his dying mother Henrietta (Elsa Lanchester) who nags at him to get rid of their rat problem at their home in which he likes to keep as pets and trains them new things.
After his Mom passes on he brings these rodents into his home and keeps them in the cellar where they breed and names the head rat Ben as he takes him to work in his suitcase as well as pulling harmless pranks on his boss and co-workers at night which seems to be harmless pranks but then one of the rats he brings to work is killed by Al and Willard seeks revenge by training Ben and the others to kill him.
However, Ben is out of control later on and won't even listen to Willard anymore which may cause his safety as well.


We have some nice moments in the film with Willard being bullied by his boss Al Martin in which the discussions looked good and strong here as well as him coming home to his birthday surprise and him not being happy which looked a bit disturbing and realisitic on the disappointing situations here. However there's some good moments with him feeding the rats in his backyard which looked well concentrated.
Some strong discussions between Willard as well as his mother Henrietta showing the odd dysfunctional moments which seems to draw your attention here into the story which seems to help out with the plot knowing on what can happen later on.
Also some great shots on Willard training some rats to walk on a board to a rock thats rising with water which makes you cringe and wondering if he will let them drown which looked well concentrated here as well as him helping them back up as it looked cute on them running up the plank to safety at a time. ALmost had a family type of vibe to all this.
Also some good close up shots on Henrietta ringing her bell sick in bed towards Willard which looked energised showing a nagging mother to her son as well as making you wonder if he will sick the rats on her for revenge while doing this since this scene gives you that impression big time.
We have a moment with Al talking to Willard in his office trying to act cheerful and sarcastic as well as Willard disturbed by all of this as this also makes you watch carefully wondering if he will break into his grouchy mode again for when he replies to him negatively. This moment looked well done here.
We also have a mysterious moment with a character named Charlotte Stassen about to tell Willard the bad news on his mother in which this gives you a deep sinking feeling that she has passed away as well as his nasty reactions towards her in which this looked perfectly dysfunctional to watch as well.
Also we spot a bizarre moment with Charlotte and Al as the wake in WIllard's home eating the food which looked perfectly twisted on how all of this was set out almost unraveling what will become of the horror later on.
We have some clever shots and moments with Willard training his rats into calling to them on what box he made to go into for when he calls food which seemed to work in well with the tale. Also a nice carefully done scene with Willard calling one of his rats Ben which was a nice drawing card to the ssotry on how he focuses on the rat here.
Things seems a little bland though when Al has a party and Willard gets the rats to invade the food that;s there and people freaking out which doesn't look intense enough and a bit silly to watch as well.
Also a good still and silent moment when Willard goes to someone's home and trains the rats on what to do when they chew through a wall as this almost starts up the terror here.
There's even a good romantic situation between Willard and Joan when he gives him a cat for his new home but at the same time it makes you feel uneasy as to what might happen next if he brings the feline home to those rats which makes you watch and to see if this cat will be okay. Plus some good funny moments when the cat tries to claw at Willard's suitcase in the backseat of his car since Ben is in there. It can offer some chuckles for sure.
Plus some cute moments in the cellar when we spot baby rats being bred as well as Willard trying to talk to all the rats on them forming more and more which looked a bit twisted when he acts crazy about it all.
A funny argumentive scene with Willard towards Ben poking a stick at the rat and him fighting with it as this leaves an impression that this rodent might evenutally turn on him especially when he gets sneaky about things later on.
We have a moment when the nasty Al tries to kill one of Willard's rats with a stick which is a pretty white one when found in the workplace as this definetely doesn't look nice to watch and disturbing too making you feel like crying. Also a perfect dark close up shot on Ben which is convincing enough that this rat wants revenge for killing one of his family members which is another good pointer for the horror story here.
Things start to look incredibly impressive when Willard and his rats pay an unexpected visit to Al in which the story offers the horror big time here which was about time to consider this flick a horror film for sure as things tried to look intense when he commands the rats to attack him but for this day and age it looks a bit dated. However, I can see on how intense it would look back in the days.
Also some disturbing moments with Willard drowning some rats leftover at his home in a cage as this makes the moments look truly sad.
Also a perfect moment with Willard panicking towards Joan and trying to get her out of the home after discovering the other rats found their way back without her trying to notice which for sure makes you cringe on things turning sour on him while trying to have a love life with her. Definetely looked good and natural by what we spot here.
Also some perfect moments between Willard and Ben as there's a nice challenge between them along with a clever moment on the rat trying to call the other rats after spotting a box of rat poison adding more the the horror story here and what is to unravel while we continue to watch here and automatically opening a door to a sequel while we watch on what happens before the closing credits.
Bottom line is that this story is very slow and alot of the times pretty bland stuff but can be fun if you're in the mood for a cheesy drive-in b-flick as this became a cult classic inspiring a sequel as well as a remake too. Sometimes when you continue to watch you wonder when the horror will get into this as it seemed to look awfully silly for the most part and a bit too cute than scary as well.

The acting is not too badly done in which lead actor Bruce Davison (Willard Stiles) seemed to live up to his social misfit role by choking out his words and having a stiff and distrubed attitude as this shines off in a fair fashion. Also does well by acting insecure in alot of the spots as well as doing a great job by showing some enthusiasm while talking to the rats and training them which looked realistic with this type of attitude. Shows off some good energy when he laughs while preparing a prank acting like a kid as this comes off nicely. Also shows some good hyped energy when acting aggressive and intense with this choked out words along with showing a good nervousness when getting stern with one of the rats. Plus during the end of his performance does a nice job acting scared choking out his sentences as well as having a perfec tintense type of fearsome attitude too.
Sondra Locke
(Joan) had the nice pretty girl next door looks as well as having a nice mellow soft spoken attitude too. Plus made her part believably likeable too within what she does. Shows off a good romantic type of characteristics too and studied this role inside out a great deal becoming a good key role to the story here. She was one of the best in the cast here.
Ernest Borgnine (Al Martin) looked very young in his role compared to what he often spot him in and proved his role worthy by playing a scumbag and sleazy businessman as he shows off a perfect obnoxious personality and coming across as believeably closed minded too. He for sure reminds you as one of those types you had to deal with in a job you absolutely hated.
(Henrietta Stiles
) was good with her high pitched speaking and does well with her energy while acting like a nagging type of sick woman in which she was another good one to come off as someone whom is slowly dying and believeably needy too. Had the right looks for this too and shows off some good adrenaline within everything that she does here. I found that she grabbed my attention a great deal within most of the cast members that were mentioned.
Jody Gilbert (Charlotte Stassen) was someone who also grabbed your attention but she wasn't the greatest out of the whole cast might I add. She comes across as someone whom is a sort of head case and not to be trusted as well as trying to hide her greedy behavior. Yet when she tries to get emotional she comes across as incredibly wooden. I'm sorry I don't have much compliments on her talents here.

A great natural strong composing by Alex North in which we have alot of peaceful family oriented style violin and trombone playing for when the character helps out the rats as well as training them which adds the nice heartwarming feel to everything in a Disney type fashion. Also some good flute and clarinet playing too. Plus we have a rotation of music for the greedy situations taking place at the wake after the funeral which sounded greatly unpleasant. Also nice low sounds and quiverring violin music as well as fast drum tapping when the near terrors start to occur as well offering a perfect versatality here. We hear some great strong trombone playing as well for the closing credits which seemed very necessary after what we all spotted in the storyline.

Willard Stiles: Tear him up!