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Ben (1972)
Movie Review by The Gravedigger

Ben (1972) This sequel to WILLARD starts off with the ending of that movie and how Willard Stiles is killed by the rats. Detective Kirtland (Joseph Campanella) comes in and starts his investigation. He reads some of Willard's diary, about how he controlled an army of intelligent rats to do his bidding. The authorities gas Willard's old house but not before the rats escape into the sewer system of the city.Then we go to the story of a young boy (Lee Montgomery) who is dying of a heart ailment. He's cared for by his older sister (Meredith Baxter) and mother. The garage is his playroom, where he has these string puppets. This is also where he often breaks into a cheerful song. I found this kind of unsettling for some reason, even when he composes the 'Ben' song later in the movie-it's just weird and doesn't fit the rest of the movie.We're shown how the rats are looking for food and utterly destroy a local grocery store. Those same detectives show up, along with the ever present crowd of onlookers. This is another strange thing about this movie-every time there is some type of rat-related incident there's always this crowd of people standing by, silent, watching.In one scene, where a bully starts picking on the kid, Ben sends his rats to attack him. And soon after Ben shows the boy where the rat's lair is in the sewer system. The boy promises not to tell anyone.But the authorities do find out where the rats are hiding-and try to kill them by flooding them out and also with these flame throwers. These scenes of destruction-and frying rats-seem to go on forever. The movie ends on a depressing note, with the boy crying in his room about all the rats being killed and an injured Ben showing up at his window. He starts wrapping the wounds up with cloth. Both the boy and the rat are in sad shape.It's a movie worth seeing, as it's a sequel very different than the first movie, and does have its moments.
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