Of Unknown Origin (1983)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

When a banking executive tries to outsmart an enormous and seriously pesky rat, it is a case of a battle of wits between two unarmed opponents in this tedious rodent horror treatise on the multiple dangers of rats. Bert Hughes (Peter Weller) is home alone in his Manhattan apartment, trying to work out a major change in his trust company when a noisy rat starts scratching around his periphery, and he becomes obsessed with exterminating it. By the time Hughes is through, his whole apartment is nearly exterminated -- and his friends are keeping their distance due to his rat-mania. (In the middle of a business dinner he brings up the topic of rats served as "stringy chicken" in an Asian country.) Rats may be Of Unknown Origin, but more than their questionable hygiene and genealogy is needed to frighten viewers.
Art House & International , Horror
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Home Video


Peter Weller
as Bart Hughes
Shannon Tweed
as Meg Hughes
Jennifer Dale
as Lorrie Wells
Lawrence Z. Dane
as Eliot Riverton
Kenneth Welsh
as James Hall
Keith Knight
as Salesman
James Tapp
as Meg's Father
Earl Pennington
as Thompson
Bronwen Mantel
as Florence
Monik Nantel
as Secretary
Jacklin Webb
as News Vendor
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Of Unknown Origin

All Critics (4)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

It's ultimately clear that Of Unknown Origin might've worked as a half hour short yet is simply unable to sustain an 88 minute running time...

Full Review… | July 2, 2012
Reel Film Reviews

No excerpt available.

August 6, 2005

Pretty typical tale of how rats will occasionally go nuts and start devouring humans. Peter Weller brings some gravity to the ratty affair.

April 2, 2005

An intelligent overlooked horror film about writer's block.

January 14, 2005
KFOR Channel 4 News

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | September 9, 2003

Audience Reviews for Of Unknown Origin

Killer animal movies have been a staple of the horror genre almost since the genre began, but "Of Unknown Origin" offers up its own unique twist on that theme with star Peter Weller going mano a mano with a giant killer rat. In that respect, it's almost the "Die Hard" of killer rate movies with some better-than-average writing for a movie of this nature. Weller is the glue that holds it all together, giving yet another one of his trademark quirky performances. His slow descent into madness is a lot of fun to watch as the battle intensifies, but the built-up is admittedly sluggish and filled with a lot of unnecessary plot developments. George P. Cosmatos is something of a hack director and you can't help but think a more skilled filmmaker could have made this something even better. Still, the special effects are quite good, and credit must be given to the film for generating a lot of genuine suspense without much blood or gore. The rat is quite convincing and definitely revolting when it needs to be. Also a lot of fun is the final showdown as Weller systematically destroys the home he so lovingly created as his descent comes full circle, but you certainly feel like things are wrapped up too abruptly. Despite a few minor complaints, "Of Unknown Origin" is a clever cat and mouse thriller in the truest sense of the words, a smart horror film that doesn't quite fit into the genre, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. It has its own distinctive style, with a flair all its own but at the same time lacking a real punch to take it to the top.

Timothy Sanders
Timothy Sanders

Of Unknown Origin is a rather simple story that could either be interpreted as stress and yuppiedom driving a man to insanity or a straight up man versus monster/rodent movie. It's mildly entertaining and offers Peter Weller essentially putting on a one man show as he destroys his apartment looking for the titular vermin.

Rodney Eckrich
Rodney Eckrich

It's Peter Weller vs a Rat in what's basically an urban Moby Dick.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

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