Of Unknown Origin (1983).


The best rat movie ever. Period. End of discussion.” — John Waters.

OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN is playing in New York City tonight. New York is the city in which the film is set, but if you’ve seen the film, you know it looks pretty Canada for New York. But I’m not holding up OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN as one of the greatest New York movies ever. I am holding it up, tall as a torch, as one of the greatest rat movies ever. Probably THE greatest. John Waters says so. Who the hell would I be to argue?

Like John Waters appears to be (something that doubles the love I have for him and his work), I am a connoisseur of the strange sub-genre of horror films that is the rat movie. Giant rats, killer rats, swarms of rats — maybe it’s the New Yorker in me, but I can’t get enough. It isn’t as if there are too many of them to go around, but luckily when a rat movie does arrive, there are usually plenty of rats inside the movie at least.

OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN is different. There’s only one rat in this one, and he’s a complete bastard. It takes Robocop (Peter Weller) to bring him down, and at a monumental existential cost.

There’s so much more I want to write about this movie but it’s playing super-soon so consider this space a place-holder, and in the meantime there’s still time to run up to Lincoln Center, which is presumably as vermin-free as it gets in this town, and see what John Waters and I agree is a stone classic of its genre.


Tickets and directions here. 










— JON ABRAMS (@jonnyabomb)




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