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Dial Rat for Terror

Overview

When their lavish home is invaded by a violent and unstable black criminal, a high-living white Beverly Hills couple is forced to confront their worst nightmares in filmmaker Larry Cohen's satirical black comedy. Famous car dealer Bill Andrew Duggan and his wife, Bernadette Joyce Van Patten, go through the motions of their mundane day-to-day existence while coasting on a fragile web of lies and tentative affection. When Bill discovers a rat in the filter of his pool, he is frozen with fear until Bone Yaphet Kotto...
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Overview

When their lavish home is invaded by a violent and unstable black criminal, a high-living white Beverly Hills couple is forced to confront their worst nightmares in filmmaker Larry Cohen's satirical black comedy. Famous car dealer Bill Andrew Duggan and his wife, Bernadette Joyce Van Patten, go through the motions of their mundane day-to-day existence while coasting on a fragile web of lies and tentative affection. When Bill discovers a rat in the filter of his pool, he is frozen with fear until Bone Yaphet Kotto mysteriously appears and removes the threatening vermin. Their gratitude is short-lived when Bone forces his way into their posh home with the intention of raping Bernadette and making off with a tidy sum. However, when he discovers some questionable discrepancies with their financial records, Bill is forced to make a trip to the bank to make a withdrawal while Bone and Bernadette await his return -- but Bone warns that he will not hesitate to kill Bernadette if Bill doesn't return in due time. Their transparent fa├žade forever shattered, captor and captive form an unusual bond while Bone's meal ticket opts for an ominous change of plan that he believes will rid him of excess baggage while also drawing a substantial profit.
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
"A Bad Day in Beverly Hills," is the subtitle to Bone a.k.a. Housewife, a brilliant, edgy 1972 satire from independent writer/director Larry Cohen It's Alive. The story covers one harrowing day when a thief named Bone Yaphet Kotto invades the Beverly Hills home of a used car salesman, Bill Andrew Duggan, and his wife, Bernadette Joyce Van Patten. Despite this rather straightforward setup, Bone is not a thriller. Rather, it uses a juxtaposition of stereotypes to expose issues of racism and consumerism, brilliantly diffusing the tension into extended scenes of character self-exploration. It's all nicely off-kilter: A potential rape is averted when Bernadette ends up mixing an array of Polynesian cocktails for her captor, while Bill abandons his hostage wife and ends up wandering through a supermarket with a green-stamp-collecting shoplifter. Strong dialogue and acting makes this unusual material work, and an eclectic musical score with some heavy funk and jazz overtones by Gil Melle give Bone a distinctly offbeat, unmistakably '70s feel. Ultimately, Bone comes off as a tripped-out cross between Cape Fear and The Graduate -- a darkly comic but ultimately fierce indictment of American middle-class hypocrisy, captured in one white man's metaphorical nervous breakdown.
All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
As relevant now as when it was released in 1972, director Larry Cohen's satirical take on race relations still seems years ahead of its time when viewed today. It's easy to see why a film like Bone struck such a sensitive chord, and though the film would eventually receive distribution under the title Housewife (accompanied by an cheap exploitational advertising campaign), it's likely that the DVD release from Blue Underground is the first time the film has seen the light of day in many parts of the world. Bone is indeed a difficult film, and many may find a satirical black comedy that takes on one of the most sensitive issues in American social history a difficult pill to swallow. Despite its confrontational nature, such blatant social commentary in film remains a rare feat in cinema, and Cohen's masterful handling of the material has rarely been matched in the 30-plus-years since the film's release. Though performances are solid across the board, Yaphet Kotto's turn as the volatile eponymous character is unforgettable; he effortlessly epitomizes white America's fear of the black man in a virtually flawless performance. The vacant and fearful existence of the plastic white upper crust is likewise personified to mannequin-like detail by Andrew Duggan, who sugarcoats his painful existence with spiteful lies and selfish betrayal of those closest to him. His icy revelation regarding his devotion to his family in contrast to his lifelong dedication to turning a profit confirms the gravest fears of capitalist excess. Likewise, Joyce Van Patten's delusional, self-absorbed denouement rings horrifyingly true in an age where the black man often serves as a generic scapegoat for horrific crimes committed by white suburban soccer moms.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/5/2000
  • UPC: 738329036737
  • Original Release: 1972
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kino Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jeannie Berlin
Andrew Duggan Bill
Yaphet Kotto Bone
Joyce Van Patten Bernadette
Casey King
Brett Somers
Jimmy Lee
Technical Credits
Larry Cohen Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Rick Baker Special Effects
George Folsey Jr. Cinematographer, Editor
Gil Melle Score Composer
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