Director/Screenplay/Photography – Andy Milligan, Producer – William Mishkin, Makeup – Walter Moody. Production Company – Constitution Film.
Hope Stansbury (Monica Mooney), Jackie Skarvelis (Diane Mooney), Ian Innes (Gerald), Joan Ogden (Phoebe Mooney), Noel Collins (Mortimer Mooney), Douglas Phair (Pa Mooney), Berwick Kaler (Malcolm Mooney), Chris Shore (Mr McHarbor), Andy Milligan (Gunsmith)
Diane returns to the Mooney family estate in England, bringing with her husband Gerald whom she has married while she was away in Scotland. This causes some upset among the family, especially to the father of the house from whom Diane also tries to hide the fact that she is pregnant. The Mooneys are engaged in strange goings-on, including Phoebe who tortures her imbecilic brother Malcolm and brings home a collection of rats. All of them await with trepidation the coming turn of the full moon.
The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! is one of the films of Andy Milligan (1929-91). Milligan was the sort of director to whom the term grindhouse was coined to describe. A gay man, Milligan hit onto filmmaking in the 1960s and turned out twenty-seven films, all of which are noted for their utter impoverishment and near total technical incompetence. Milligan frequently ventured into the horror genre and turned out titles such as The Naked Witch (1967), The Ghastly Ones (1968), Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970), The Body Beneath (1970), Guru the Mad Monk (1970), Torture Dungeon (1970), The Man with Two Heads (1972), Blood (1974), Legacy of Blood (1978), Carnage (1984), Monstrosity (1987) and The Weirdo (1989). Milligan can be seen here in a small role as the gunsmith that Jackie Skarvelis asks to make silver bullets.
The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! came out of a venture Milligan made to England in 1969, a period in which he shot four other films. The thing that should be noted about The Rats Are Coming! is that it started out as a standard werewolf story. The film remained on a shelf for three years whereupon producer William Mishkin released it with what must be one of the great exploitation titles of all time. Mishkin took inspiration from the then hit success of the killer rat film Willard (1971) and had Milligan shoot additional rat scenes for the film – some ten or so minutes that were filmed back in Milligan’s home in a Staten Island mansion in which Joan Ogden tortures rats and then buys a pack of them from a strange man in the town. In pointed reference to Willard, one of the rats is even named Ben.
However, the moment that The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! opens, it telescopes down from a great exploitation title to the near unwatchable. The camerawork – Andy Milligan shot all of his films on 16mm – is shoddy and utterly amateurish, while the sound recording frequently renders the dialogue as all but inaudible. Milligan lacks almost anything that even vaguely approaches directorial style – almost all of the film consists of a group of people sitting around a big house pretending to be Victorians with the camera pointed in their direction. Milligan has little idea how to cut up a scene dramatically and most of the film is static medium and wide angles. The Victorian period is not very convincingly conveyed as we can see modern electric light switches on the walls in the rooms.
The plot is set up so that it is supposed to be a big surprise about what the family fear is about to happen – but surely the very title has clued us in that we are watching a werewolf film. The rest of the show is the tedious family squabbles going on in the house, which mostly consists of talking scenes with little action or drama. There are occasionally some mildly perverse scenes with Joan Ogden whipping and tormenting the backward Berwick Kaler and of she torturing and killing rats. Even the title seems a big letdown as there are hardly any rat scenes, while the werewolves only emerge in the last few minutes.