HTF REVIEW: Junior/Rodentz

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Michael Elliott, Aug 2, 2003.

  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

    Jul 11, 2003
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    Real Name:
    Michael Elliott


    Studio: Artisan
    Year: 2003/2001
    Rated: R (both films)
    Film Length: 92/91 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Standard (4:3) (both films)
    Subtitles: English, Spanish/Spanish

    Even if you’re a casual horror fan you should know a few simple rules about the genre and how certain horror films get made. One, if a horror film makes money then a sequel is bound to follow. Two, if a horror film becomes a surprise hit then countless rip off’s are going to follow at the rate of two per year. With VHS taking off in the 1980’s producers were rushing around trying to get teenage boys to rent their movies full of gore and nudity. This trend continues in 2003 with the direct-to-DVD releases of Junior and Rodentz.

    Junior aka Engine Trouble

    Sandra and Rebecca are out driving in the country when they stumble upon a broken down gas station. The women stop in to use the bathroom and get a drink but they can tell something isn’t quite right with this place. They head on down the road and within minutes their car breaks down. Being in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight, Sandra decides to walk back to the station while Rebecca waits at the car.

    Time passes and Sandra isn’t back but thankfully the mechanic from the gas station drives by and offers to help Rebecca. They go back to the station but Rebecca can’t find her friend so she drives off to look for her. Pretty soon she is being stalked by a crazed madman who is a mix between Leatherface and Hannibal Lector. For the next eighty-minutes Rebecca runs around screaming and crying but in the end she’s able to turn into a ninja and starts to kick ass.

    Junior is a film from Belgium, which is also known as Engine Trouble. You can call the film whatever you want but this is without a doubt one of the worst horror films I’ve ever seen and trust me I’ve seen a whole lot. The film has the budget of around five bucks but the director doesn’t even try to appease horror fans. The one gore effect is so incredibly bad that you’ll be rolling your eyes. I understand with a low budget you can have good effects but if memory serves me it doesn’t take a special effect for some hot woman to remove her cloths.

    Horror films are aimed mostly at men and they usually at least give us gore and nudity no matter how stupid the plots are. This film here is too stupid to deliver either and the story is so incredibly stupid that there’s really nothing here to keep the viewer interested. The film tries to be like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but fails even worse than an earlier rip off called Pieces. There’s one moment however, which horror fans can give credit to Ed Wood. During one scene Rebecca is hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. However, we get the sound effect a good three seconds before she’s actually hit.

    V/A/E---The film is shown full frame (1.33:1), which appears to be the correct aspect ratio. With this type of low budget filmmaking it’s hard to judge the video quality. The colors are all faded and there are a few speckles but this is probably due to how the film was shot. The sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 and is pretty weak. A Surround 2.0 track is also included and is the better option. The 5.1 track appears to be the same except with sound effects switched around in the center speaker. Extras include a trailer and a photo gallery.

    Rodentz aka Altered Species

    Professor Irwin (Guy Vieg) is about to become the most famous person in the word due to his new chemical, which will cure cancer and be able to eat away any tumors inside a human body. However, first he must experiment on rats to get the lowdown on any possible side effects. These experiments weren’t politically correct so the University cut off his funds forcing the Professor to move to an abandoned warehouse where he now works with Walter (Allen Lee Haff).

    Walter, being somewhat dimwitted, accidentally spills some of the chemicals down the drain, which infects all the rats living in the basement. Even worse is that he gives an overdose to one of the lab rats, which soon eats its way out of the cage and ends up growing over three hundred pounds. These poor creatures are tired of being experimented on so they decide to seek revenge and kill anyone that comes along. Thankfully Walter’s friends stop by to pay a visit so the rats have more to eat on.

    Another rule in the horror genre is that if a film is bad enough it can sneak into the “so bad it’s good” range. Well, Rodentz is a prime example because every single aspect of the film is incredibly bad yet I managed to stay somewhat entertained throughout the ninety-minute running time. The acting is so incredibly bad that at some points you can view the actors looking off screen to view title cards. Another problem is that the two scientists are so stupid that I doubt they could sharpen a pencil let alone find a cure for cancer.

    With everything being bad there has to be something that makes this film worth watching. For starters we are greeted with all sorts of gory, if unconvincing death scenes, which range from arms being ripped off to faces being eaten through. There’s also a nice scene with an eye being ripped out of a head. The director is also smart enough to know when the story is getting really stupid so he throws in a sex tease, which eventually pays off in some nudity. Gore and nudity are two important characters to this type of horror film and the director delivers. The best “bad’ moment is the CGI, which is so incredibly bad. The rat’s teeth are five times too big for their mouths and the three hundred pound rat is clearly just a man in a Halloween outfit. The thing looks more like beaver than anything else.

    Rodentz is bad in every level but thankfully it’s bad enough to be somewhat entertaining. I wouldn’t recommend this to any casual horror fan but those out there who have seen every killer rat film might want to go on and check this one out. Those who are new to the killer rat genre should start off with The Killer Shrews, which is a classic B film that features dogs dressed up as killer rats.

    V/A/E---The film is shown full frame, which appears to be the correct ratio. This film never received a theatrical release so it was probably shot directly for video. The picture quality is pretty decent considering the size of the budget and conditions the film was shot under. Several scenes are full of dirt but this is never too distracting. The colors are good throughout however. The sound is Dolby Digital Stereo and is decent as well. Although you won’t use this to show off your speaker set, the sound effects are wonderfully mixed here showing off all the rat attacks and whatever other strange noises are coming out. The only extra is an audio commentary by the director, which is pretty boring. He spends most of the time telling jokes that aren’t funny.

    OVERALL---It’s Halloween time so horror fans expect many direct-to-DVD releases. Artisan presents a rip off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and one of Willard. Both films are truly horrid but at least Rodentz has some funny moments due to the worthless CGI effects. Neither disc is anything to write home about but the quality is good for what they are.

    Release Date: August 19, 2003
  2. Shane Burton

    Shane Burton Extra

    Mar 12, 2002
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    I've been looking for some good demo material
    for my 119" screen and 6.1 system...these two
    sound perfect. There was no mention of the LFE
    track..will these movies stress my SVS too


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