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Willard (1971)

GP | | Horror | 30 July 1971 (USA)
A social misfit uses his only friends, his pet rats, to exact revenge on his tormentors.


Daniel Mann


Gilbert Ralston (screenplay) (as Gilbert A. Ralston), Stephen Gilbert (novel)
2 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Bruce Davison ... Willard Stiles
Sondra Locke ... Joan
Elsa Lanchester ... Henrietta Stiles
Michael Dante ... Brandt
Jody Gilbert ... Charlotte Stassen
William Hansen William Hansen ... Barskin
John Myhers John Myhers ... Carlson
J. Pat O'Malley ... Jonathan Farley
Joan Shawlee ... Alice
Almira Sessions ... Carrie Smith
Pauline Drake Pauline Drake ... Ida Stassen
Helen Spring Helen Spring ... Mrs. Becker
Alan Baxter ... Spencer
Sherry Presnell Sherry Presnell ... Mrs. Spencer
Ernest Borgnine ... Martin


A social misfit, Willard is made fun of by his co-workers, and squeezed out of the company started by his deceased father by his boss. His only friends are a couple of rats he raised at home, Ben and Socrates. (And their increasing number of friends) However, when one of them is killed at work, he goes on a rampage using his rats to attack those who have been tormenting him. Written by Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This is Willard and his friend Ben. Ben will do anything for Willard. See more »




GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

30 July 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ratman's Notebooks See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The final film appearance of Almira Sessions. See more »


When Willard goes to the sink to add water to the poison, you can see the rat wranglers shadow as he reaches to remove Ben from the center island. See more »


[last lines]
Willard Stiles: [screaming] I was good to you, Ben!
See more »


Featured in The Horror Show (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

Acting Saves the Day!
18 March 2003 | by MichaelnloriSee all my reviews

This film was a huge hit in the summer of 1971,mostly through a smart, savvy advertising campaign that played up the horrific elements of the film. I will admit that as a young man I enjoyed the film, but seeing it today I find it deeply flawed. In the hands of a Brian DePalma or John Carpenter this could have been great stuff-Daniel Manns'direction is so pedestrian that it dulls the senses; there is no sense of atmosphere at all. Another minus is, the usually reliable, Alex Norths' musical score is terrible! Luckily the actors come through with flying colors. The cast is composed of some old time character actors,(J.Pat O'Malley etc.), colorful veterans (Elsa Lanchester,Ernest Borgnine) and 2 terrific newcomers(Sondra Locke and Bruce Davison). The cast saves this movie. Borgnine can always be counted on to deliver a good performance and he delivers here. Sondra Locke is very good as Williards' lone friend (aside from the rats) and Bruce Davison is terrific as Willard. He has all the nervous tics of Anthony Perkins in "Pyscho" and yet has a strange, almost likable air about him the earns our symphathy-a great performance that, in my opinion, saves the film. The story is about how Willard, a frustrated, immature, mother dominated young man, comes to find a meaning in his life caring for the rats that infest his old broken down home. Naturally the rat multiply and Willard soon finds himself leading an army of the critters, that do his bidding. At first its' small mischief(ruining the bosses party) and then later much more malignant deeds. The whole story leads where you expect it to but its fun watching Davisons' character grow as the film goes on. On the whole you can do worse with your time, but watch "Willard" just for a terrific debut performance by a fine actor.

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