Rat lovers bash new Hollywood film
By Associated Press, 3/19/03
FERNDALE, Mich. -- Rat lovers say the furry creatures often get a bad rap, and Hollywood isn't helping things.
Pet rats are intelligent and loyal, owners and breeders say. But they fear those virtues are being obscured by "Willard," the new remake of a 1971 horror film about a young man who trains an army of killer rats.
"The funny thing is, I've had mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and I've been nipped by all of them. I've never been bitten by a rat," said Pat Hunt of B'wana Don's Pet Center in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale.
Rats often serve as classroom pets because they get along with children and they're smart enough to be trained. They're nothing like the bloodthirsty beasts portrayed in "Willard," said Christine Reed, manager of a pet store that caters to rat owners.
"Professionally speaking and as a pet owner of rats, I can say this movie is generating people wanting rats for the wrong reason," Reed said.
Kesha Greenwood, 20, of Detroit saw "Willard" last weekend and said the movie did nothing to improve her view of rats.
"Rats. Rabies," she said. "Rats as pets? That's just not right."
A few rat fans have embraced "Willard." A group called the Rat Fan Club staged a look-alike contest for rats resembling the stars of the movie.