Solomon’s Rats

Some ideas keep coming back.  Since you can’t copyright an idea, retelling a story is always an option.  In fact, some writers suggest they’ve written nothing new—the classic ideas are out there and are ripe for rewriting.  I’m on the fence about Solomon’s declaration that there’s nothing new under the sun.  Some startlingly original stuff is out there, it seems.  In any case, a few months ago I watched Willard for the first time.  Although it’s quite dated in many respects, it was quite a big splash when it came out.  I remember being curious about it as a kid but although we were allowed to watch monster movies on TV, going to a theater to watch horror was out of the question.  That would have to wait for college.

Discussing Willard with a friend after seeing it, the idea came up that it had quite a bit in common with Disney/Pixar’s hit Ratatouille.  I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Pixar or Disney—it seems they try too hard much of the time, although they hit it out of the park with Wall-e.  Still, this connection seemed worth pursuing.  I’m not going to discuss the commonalities here since I just had an article published in Horror Homeroom about it.  The connections are pretty striking.  I would classify Willard as swarm horror.  Rats naturally follow people around because we give them many food options.  To gather from older movies, rat bites used to be a big concern.  These days we tend to think of them as a big city problem, but rats are not far from where people live.  The problem is the swarm.  Being overwhelmed, even by a fairly small animal, is terrifying.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

With the warming weather, getting out and doing repair work around the house has made finding weekend time to watch horror rare.  I’ve got a long list of movies and an even longer list of repairs.  Recently another friend has struck up a conversation (via email) about horror films.  The thing is, at my article suggests, they aren’t that far removed from mainstream fare.  Many children’s films come close.  Most movies based on anything by Roald Dahl have dark undercurrents.  More recent efforts—and here I’m thinking mostly of Pixar—seem to jump from crisis to crisis without having that underlying story old Solomon seemed to appreciate (or to have been weary of).  That’s why I find such connections worth pondering.  Even classic revenge tale can be made gentle for younger viewers.