This Italian slasher movie sucks, but is notable for the title
character, an undersized mutant played by Nelson de la Rosa, a.k.a. the
World’s Smallest Man.
The Dominican born Nelson de la Rosa, credited as the
world’s smallest human by the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records, died
in 2006 (at age 38). He was an avid Red Sox groupie, circus performer
and sometime actor. Films he appeared in include the 1996 ISLAND OF DR.
MOREAU and the 1988 RAT MAN (a.k.a. QELLA VILLA IN FONDO AL PARCO, EL
HOMBRE RATA, TERROR HOUSE).
The exploitation movie veterans David Warbeck and Janet
Argen also appear in the film, one of the final entries in the Italian
slasher cycle of the eighties. After sitting through it you’ll
understand why the cycle didn’t last!
In a secluded laboratory a mad scientist, looking to
win a Nobel prize, impregnates a monkey with rat sperm and so creates a
grotesque humanoid creature with sharp claws and fangs. The scientist
keeps the malevolent “Rat Man” in a cage, but it inevitably gets
loose...and proceeds to terrorize the tropical island where the
scientist’s laboratory is located.
The Rat Man’s first stop is a beachside photo shoot
with a bunch of busty models. It kills one of them, alerting an
upstanding woman named Terry, who has a model sister who happens to be
in the area. The victim is not actually related to Terry, and the police
investigation of the crime is less than satisfactory. Thus Terry stays
on--and hooks up with Fred, a journalist who’s also interested in the
More murders follow, of course, with the Rat Man
emerging from a refrigerator, a box and even a toilet to do its nasty
work. Eventually Terry and Fred track the creature to the laboratory
where it was conceived, and appear to kill it...but in the final scenes
it hides in a suitcase to terrorize airline passengers.
Those wanting gore or suspense won’t find much of
either here. Instead we get a dull account totally lacking in energy.
Missed opportunities abound; Nelson de la Rosa’s Rat Man, being the
resourceful critter he is, would at the very least seem to offer all
manner of possibilities for creative kills. All we get, alas, are a few
surprisingly bloodless murders (the lighting is too dark to make out
much), some gratuitous nudity (courtesy of Eva Grimaldi, who like de la
Rosa could have used more screen time) and long stretches of dullness.
Even the final airline attack, which should have provided a
rousing climactic kill-a-thon, occurs entirely offscreen.
But Nelson de la Rosa makes for an extremely striking
and horrific monster. The casting may be exploitive, but it works--the
Rat Man is so perfectly realized that if I didn’t know better I’d swear
it was a special effect.