Blu-ray Review: WILLARD (2003)

WILLARD was written and directed by Glen Morgan and stars Crispin Glover, R. Lee Ermey, Laura Harring, Ashlyn Gere, William S. Taylor and Jackie Burroughs.

Desperate for companionship, the repressed Willard (Crispin Glover) befriends a group of rats that inhabit his late father’s deteriorating mansion. In these furry creatures, Willard finds temporary refuge from daily abuse at the hands of his bedridden mother (Jackie Burroughs) and his father’s old partner, Frank (R. Lee Ermey). Soon it becomes clear that the brood of rodents is ready and willing to exact a vicious, deadly revenge on anyone who dares to bully their sensitive new master.

This 2003 remake takes the same path as the original and follows Willard Styles, a lonely and miserable young man who’s left trapped caring for his sickly mother while working a dead-end job for the verbally absusive Mr. Martin who stole the company from his deceased father. By the way, the only reference to Willard’s father is by a painting of Bruce Davison who played the character in the original 1971 classic. Willard disovers that he has a unique bond with the rats that dwell in his old gothic home and this new friendship oddly becomes an escape from reality for this troubled man. There’s also Ben, a much larger rat that stands out from the rest of the pack in more ways than one.

Willard hates his job because of the continuous abuse he takes from Mr. Martin but he does meet Cathryn at work who shows him some kindness because she feels sorry for what he’s dealing with. What happens is, Willard’s mother dies and instead of getting any kind of sympathy or kindness from his sinister boss, he gets bullied even more and this drives Willard into a fury of madness that allows him to not only get his revenge on the ones that’ve hurt him over the years but the sweetest deal of it all is that he finally gets payback against Mr. Martin who finally gets a brutal dose of karma he so rightfully deserves. Willard has been driven to madness with his vengeance but in the end even he has to pay for what he’s done.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. Willard has been give a new 2K scan from the original film elements. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, this 2003 remake for Willard is a highly underrated gem that’s just as good as the 1971 original (review HERE) because it not only pays homage to that creepy cool classic but it’s a near perfect beast of its own. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t do well at the box office when it was released back in 2003 and that’s a shame because its a well executed, character driven thriller with a brilliant performance by Crispin Glover, who always delivers no matter what the role is, as well as the legendary R. Lee Ermey who sadly passed away last year. Maybe it’s because a lot of people don’t like rats? Anyway, Glen Morgan is mostly known as a producer and writer with his partner James Wong so he only directed two feature films (the Black Christmas remake) and a few episodes of “The X-Files” but he’s a great storyteller and this one here proves it. This updated version of Willard wasn’t able to find its audience when it first released but there’s definitely a fandom that has grown over the years and thankfully we’re getting this impressive 2K upgrade because the movie deserves it and it’s packed with extras. Willard (2003) joins the previously released original and its 1972 sequel Ben when it makes its Blu-ray debut on February 26th.

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 100 Minutes

Rated: PG-13

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English

Special Features: Good Stuff! There’s hours of extras that include two new audio commentaries, vintage audio commentary, two new interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, two documentaries, twelve deleted/alternate scenes, a music video, theatrical trailer and nine TV spots.

  • NEW Audio Commentary with writer/director Glen Morgan and director of photography Robert McLachlan
  • NEW Audio Commentary with animal trainers Mark Harden and David Allsberry of Animals for Hollywood
  • NEW The Road to Willard – an interview with writer/director Glen Morgan (1:19:48)
  • NEW Destination Willard – an interview with director of photography Robert McLachlan (45:53)
  • NEW The Rat Trainer’s Notebook – behind-the-scenes footage from Animals for Hollywood (11:18)
  • Audio Commentary with writer/director Glen Morgan, producer James Wong, actors Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey
  • The Year of the Rat – a documentary on the making of WILLARD (1:13:13)
  • Rat People: Friends or Foes? – A Real Rat Documentary (18:41)
  • Deleted/Alternate Scenes with optional commentary (25:57)
  • Music Video BEN by Crispin Hellion Glover with optional commentary (03:00)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage and interviews from the electronic press kit (29:45)
  • Theatrical Trailer (02:03)
  • TV Spots (03:46)
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