Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Genus: Rattus
Notable appearances: Dracula
Phantom of the Opera

Rats are disgusting little varmints. They are dirty, rodent scavengers who carry all manner of communicable diseases. Some may regard rats as wingless bats, which are equally foul, but this is something of a misnomer, since the two are not truly related to one another, despite how their names rhyme.

Rats tend to thrive in dark, enclosed places where it is warm. As such, they can frequently be found nesting in sewers, subway channels and other such avenues while they conspire and scheme to take over the world.

One who is tasked with tracking down and capturing the miserable little cretins are called Rat catchers - a thankless job to be sure, but one they every catcher seems to take great pride in.

In fiction[edit | edit source]

Rats feature prominently in gothic literature. In Gaston Leroux's 1909 serial The Phantom of the Opera, rats were frequently found in abundance in the sewers beneath Paris. They have also appeared in nearly every film adaptation of Leroux's book that has ever been produced.

Likewise, rats also feature prominently in vampire lore. In the 1922 film Nosferatu by F.W. Murnau, hordes of rats can be seen on the ship that Dracula travels aboard. In the 1931 film adaptation of Dracula, the character of Renfield describes how the eponymous Count possesses the ability to summon hordes of rats to do his bidding.

American gothic author H. P. Lovecraft wrote a short story in 1923 called The Rats in the Walls in which the narrator, a member of the Delapore family was slowly driven insane by the sounds of walls scratching and chittering inside the walls of his family's ancestral estate.

Rats made a sneaky little behind-the-scenes appearance in Dracula's Daughter, released in 1936 by Universal Pictures. A prison guard named Albert at the Whitby Jail in North Yorkshire believed he heard scary noises coming from the cell that contained the bodies of Count Dracula and Renfield. When a fellow constable went to investigate, he saw the burrows of rats skittering about beneath the dirt.

There are several rats found at 55 Hillcrest in the 1987 film Hellraiser. Frank Cotton, after coming back to life, takes pleasure in torturing and killing them. He pins one rat against the wall with a nail, and skins another rat before the eyes of Julia Cotton, who is in the midst of having sex with her husband, Larry.

In the film's sequel, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, J.P. Monroe reaches inside of a hole in the Pillar of Souls and feels something biting him. He pulls his hand out and there is a rat attached to it. He shakes it loose, but the presence of blood awakens Pinhead, whose essence was trapped inside the pillar.

In the novel and film adaptation of Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire, neophyte New Orleans vampire Louis sustains himself by drinking the blood of rats instead of humans. His mentor, Lestat, finds the practice disgusting, but admits that it can be useful if one is stuck aboard an ocean voyage for an extended period of time and resources are low. According to Lestat, the blood of a rat grows cold very quickly and provides very little nourishment. [1]

While dining on rats may not be the preferred diet of vampires, alien/human hybrids such as Sil and her offspring from the Species film series have no reservations against chowing down on some sewer varmint.

In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series, a miscast magic spell accidentally turned high school student Amy Madison into a rat. She remained in this condition for quite some time until up-and-coming witch Willow Rosenberg used her powers to turn her back to normal.

In the appropriately-named 2003 Tibor Takács horror film Killer Rats, Doctor William Winslow conducts experiments at the mysterious Brookdale Institute on rats, forcing their evolution into that of a breed of super-intelligent, powerful killers.

On Penny Dreadful, Dorian Gray took Ethan Chandler to see an illegal sporting event in which spectators could place wagers on how many rats a dog could kill within a certain time limit. The dog that Gray bet on won the competition by killing ninety-seven rats in less than six minutes. [2]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • People who horde their belongings are sometimes referred to as pack rats.
  • A "rat" can also be used as an adjective to describe an untrustworthy person.

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Hellraiser logo.jpg
This article relates to the Hellraiser film franchise.
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This article relates to the Willard film franchise.
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