Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rare Forgotten Sequel Flix: Ben (1972)

How often is a Song more famous than the Movie it came from?  'My Heart Will Go On' was quite big, but is still mostly-known as 'That Song From Titanic.  The same could be said about 'I Don't Want to Miss A Thing' or 'I Will Always Love You,' which were both huge, movie songs.  However, today's case is an example of an award-winning Hit Song with a Film...that has no major DVD release.  Wow.  Just wow.  Today's Film is Ben, the 1972 Sequel to Willard.  It is so connected that the beginning of the Film is actually the End of the other Film.  Is that foreshadowing other similar cases like the 3-year Plane Ride from Rush Hour 2?  No.  I just like talking about how silly that idea was, that's all.  In the aftermath of Willard's death, Ben and company flee to the Streets.  He finds a new friend in a young, sick boy and makes plans to keep his large family/army taken care of.  As panic grows and deaths pile up, what will become of them?  Come for the rat attacks, but stay for the schmaltzy-Acting.  To find out whether this is a one-song Film, read on...
The Film begins with the last five minutes of Willard, leading right into the Police showing up outside (with a small crowd of onlookers).  Forget about the would-be-Love-Interest though.

The Police scour everywhere, looking for the Rats connected to Willard's crimes, but they hide well.
Some of them are eventually found (leading to one dead Cop) and they seek new refuge.  Ben finds a young boy to befriend him.  He has heart issues and lives a sheltered, lonely life- perfect patsy.

He also runs his own Puppet Show in the Garage.  Hopefully, he didn't make them like this.
While the Police continue to search for the Rats (like they are C.H.U.D. or something!), the little guys raid a Super Market.  I wonder if Kellogg wanted their products shown here or if it was unpaid?
Ben and the boy become close, even as outside tensions mount.  When a boy picks on our hero, Ben sicks a small army on him to send him running.
This kid is really committed to Ben and company too, even going down to the Sewer when that becomes their new home.
The jig is up eventually when some Rats stay over for the night.  The Police question him and it is actually kind of funny to see a pre-teen acting like Kevin Spacey from The Usual Suspects.  Weird, but funny.
The kid refuses to give up on helping Ben, which puts him in some danger.  Especially when the Police...
...are using flamethrowers and blasting Shotguns down there!

I haven't seen this much of a disproportionate response since the end of Brainiac (watch it- it's free).
Ben manages to escape and retreats back to the kid's Garage.  The sad kid attempts to patch the Rat up as the Michael Jackson Song plays...and the Film ends.  Nice and inconclusive.  The End.
Furry vengeance!  This is as much an interesting counterpoint to Willard as it is a Sequel.  In the Original, a man lashes out at those that have wronged him by using the Rats as his tools.  In this Film, Ben seeks to just lead 'his people' and keeps running into people against him.  There is no parallel to Willard in this Film, which is nice.  The kid is the closest thing, but he never falls into that territory.  He seems happy when the Rats help chase off the bully, but he doesn't actually call them.  Ben acts on his behalf, which is what he only does this one time.  It would be interesting to see the roles fully-reversed (with the Rats using the human) though.  You could argue that this one goes a bit too far in the opposite direction, with the humans being very aggressive towards the Rats due to recent events.  It is somewhat understandable (since Willard's diary was found), I suppose.  By the way, I don't recall Willard writing a Diary in that Film.  Was that just added to help explain the Plot or did I just miss it?  Fun Fact: Meredith Baxter (not Birney anymore) plays the kid's Sister.  There is a good amount of Rat action, although there are a few 'Um, how did that kill you?' moments tossed in there.  One of my favorites is when the Rats just kind of appear in the Passenger Seat of a Truck Driver, who sideswipes a car...that just blows up in flame (see below).  As a bonus, we see the Cops investigating the Scene...and the Cars are fine.  Movie Magic!  Ben is a good Movie and definitely deserves better than a 240p Resolution Version on [Name Redacted].  If you get a chance, check it out.
Next up, let's jump out of Horror for a moment.  Inspired by Marvel's success, Japan turned a Kid's Show into a big-budget epic!  Stay tuned...

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