Willard (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

Willard (1971)




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This film is based on the novel Ratman's Notebooks, by Stephen Gilbert. Bruce Davison is Willard Stiles, a 27-year-old mama's boy whose repressions are bottled up inside and come to the fore in his nervous nail-biting. As one character describes Willard, "Willard is basically an extrovert, but it's all inside." Willard and his possessive invalid mother, Henrietta (Elsa Lanchester), live in thrall to Al Martin (Ernest Borgnine), the man who took over a foundry business after the death of Willard's father. Willard inwardly seethes but mostly stays in his run-down mansion with his mother, making friends with the rats that infest the place -- he even names them, Ben and Socrates. However, when Henrietta dies, things change. Al, in a rage, kills one of Willard's pet rats. Not only that, but Al also fires Willard from his job at the foundry. Losing his patience, Willard meets with his rat friends to exact his revenge for a lifetime of humiliation and neurosis.more
Rating: PG
Genre: Horror
Directed By:
Written By: Gilbert A. Ralston


Bruce Davison
as Willard Stiles
Ernest Borgnine
as Al Martin
Elsa Lanchester
as Henrietta Stiles
Jo Gilbert
as Charlotte Stassen
Jody Gilbert
as Charlotte Stassen
Joan Shawlee
as Alice Rickles
William Hansen
as Mr. Barskin
J. Pat O'Malley
as Jonathan Farley
John Myhers
as Mr. Carlson
Helen Spring
as Mrs. Becker
Pauline Drake
as Ida Stassen
Almira Sessions
as Carrie Smith
Alan Baxter
as Walter T. Spencer
Sherry Presnell
as Mrs. Spencer
Lola Kendrick
as Mrs. Martin
Robert Golden
as Motorcycle Rider
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Willard

Critic Reviews for Willard

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Really little more than a crudely directed revenge thriller.

Full Review… | April 9, 2007

A killer classic with teeth!

June 11, 2005

It's a cult classic with claws.

Full Review… | January 12, 2005

Audience Reviews for Willard

Willard is an interesting horror tale about a social misfit who has a hard time and his only friends are rats. This is an eerie little horror yarn that is quite creepy, especially if you hate rats. The performances here are very good, and the lead actor who plays the title character, Bruce Davison is terrific and he gives the character a certain menacing charm that keeps you involved. Daniel Mann's direction is immaculate, and he crafts something unique and quite cheesy at the same name. However it works with effective results. The film has a dark atmosphere that is almost melancholic and helpless, which sets your distractions away from the cheesy notion of attacking rats. Aside from that, there are some impressive names like Ernest Borgnine. Willard is an entertaining picture that is sure to thrill horror fans and it boasts a well plotted story with a great cast and awesome direction. If you love old horror films that are somewhat forgotten, then give Willard a shot. This is a skin crawling affair that will certainly make you feel uncomfortable. This is a highly entertaining film that delivers s the thrills and chills. Willard has its imperfections, but due to a strong cast and well written script, this is a standout horror film that offers up a memorable and tense viewing experience. I really loved the film, and if you want a film that will give you the willies, then Willard is such a film. This is among the finest horror films of the 1970's and it is quite different as well. This is a film that deserves to be rediscovered and it really brings a tense, chilling atmosphere to the viewer. If you hate rats, then this will certainly make you feel uncomfortable from the first frame onwards. However it is a must see for sheer terror and great acting.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

A pretty good cast, but the movie isn't very scary at all, in fact it's kind of funny at times. I liked it anyway.

Aj V

Super Reviewer


For some reason I've always had a thing for Bruce Davison. No idea why. That's probably why I liked this movie years ago. Don't even know if I could sit through it now...I shudder just thinking about all the mice running around everywhere. YIKES!

Cindy I

Super Reviewer

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