Blu-ray Review: Of Unknown Origin
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Of Unknown Origin
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Screenwriter: Brian Taggert
Cast: Peter Weller, Shannon Tweed, Jennifer Dale, Lawrence Dane, Kenneth Welsh, Louis Del Grande, Maury Chaykin
Distributor: Scream Factory
Rated R | 89 Minutes
Release Date: May 22, 2018

“If it can’t scare them to death, it will find another way.”

Directed by George P. Cosmatos (Rambo: First Blood Part II, Cobra, and Tombstone) and written by Brian Taggert (V: The Final Battle, Poltergeist III), 1983’s Of Unknown Origin is based on the novel, The Visitor, by Chauncey G. Parker III. The film stars Peter Weller (RoboCop), Shannon Tweed (Hot Dog… The Movie, Meatballs III: Summer Job), and a giant, man-eating rat.

Bart Hughes (Weller) is a Wall Street executive caught up in the rat race of corporate America. While his wife (Tweed) and young son (Leif Anderson) leave for a vacation, Bart stays behind to work on a project that should earn him a promotion. Alone in his newly renovated Manhattan brownstone, Bart discovers that he isn’t alone at all, but rather an unwilling host to an unwanted houseguest.

A giant rat has taken up residence in the brownstone and begins to do its own unique form of renovating – by chewing and clawing its way through every wire and wall in the place. Bart becomes obsessed with putting an end to his pest problem and descends into madness while trying to kill the creature. But as Ash, the android from Alien would say, “Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.” The rat lures the mild-mannered businessman on an unwitting path to self-destruction, leading to a foundation-shaking showdown with Bart’s sanity and survival at stake.

Man, what a wild ride Of Unknown Origin is. Previously, I only knew of Cosmatos’ intense thriller by name – I had no idea it was a killer rat movie, ala Willard, Deadly Eyes, Rats: Night of Terror, and everyone’s favorite, Ratatouille. This film has everything you could want from a motion picture: an incredibly satisfying mix of Jaws, Aliens, and Predator, with RoboCop himself going all Ripley on a big-ass, super-smart rodent. It’s the ultimate battle of man vs. beast, and regardless of who wins, it’s the audience who is the decisive winner.

Thank God for Scream Factory, who resurrects hidden gems and forgotten genre films and gives them new life. Without this new high-definition release of Cosmatos’ film, I may have never experienced the joy – dare I say, the jubilation – of watching Buckaroo Bonzai don a miner’s headlamp, cleats, and protective gear while fighting a Schnauzer-sized rat with a homemade morning star. It’s the stuff dreams (and a few nightmares, I suppose) are made of. If you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve got to pick up a copy right now and bear testimony to its brilliance.

Lucky for you, Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray is a definitive release that makes Of Unknown Origin an easy blind buy. The disc comes with a 1080p widescreen presentation (1.85:1 aspect ratio) with a brand new transfer – a 2K scan from the interpositive, bolstered by a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Also included are several newly produced featurettes, including The Origins Of Unknown Origin – an interview with executive producer Pierre David, That Rat Movie – an interview with screenwriter Brian Taggert, and an interview with Louis Del Grande titled, Hey, Weren’t You In Scanners?

There’s also a previously released audio commentary with Cosmatos and Weller as well as your standard assortment of theatrical trailers and still galleries. The only thing missing that I wish this release had is a deep-dive on the special effects and creature design – I’d love to hear more behind-the-scenes stories about a totally committed Weller trying to convincingly fight a giant animatronic rat puppet, but maybe that’s just me. Still, this is a must-own for anyone who loves movies, but especially for that particular breed of cinephile who’s always looking for the next bonkers viewing experience. Of Unknown Origin delivers on the dizzying high of seeing something truly outrageous for the first time. I can’t wait to watch it again.

Scream Factory’s Of Unknown Origin Blu-ray is now available at Amazon. For more reviews of Scream Factory releases, click here.


Clip: Unknown Guest

Clip: Louis Del Grande Discusses Acting with Peter Weller

Cover Art

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