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Willard and Ben

Updated on April 19, 2015

The Movie: "Willard"

"Willard" is a horror movie made in 1971, about a young man who is twenty seven years old, and is still living with his cranky and decrepit mother in a big mansion. The young man's name is Willard Stiles. Willard is strange, meek, and a social misfit, and he has an odd affinity for rats. He has his twenty seventh-birthday party, where he is so embarrassed that he decides to leave to go sit outside to get away from the party. Outside he sees a rat and gives it some of his birthday cake. His mother scolds him for leaving the party, and she complains about the house falling apart. The following morning, Willard goes outside and feeds another rat--this rat has babies. Willard, then imitates the rat's squeak. His mother tells him that he needs to kill the rats, but Willard refuses to do so. Willard Stiles is played by Bruce Davison. "Willard" is based on the novel, "Ratman's Notebooks", by Stephen Gilbert. The film was nominated for an Edgar Award for best picture. When the film opened it had good reviews and high box office returns. The film included Elsa Lanchester in one of her last performances, and Sondra Locke in one of her first. Ernest Borgnine played Mr. Martin (Willard's boss at work).

Willard's Boss: Mr. Martin

Willard doesn't get along with his boss, Mr. Martin, at work. Mr. Martin scolds Willard quite often for being inept. Willard returns home after work, and traps a rat family in a tall rock in the center of a pond using a wooden plank and food. He turns the water on, and then, takes the plank away, and fills the pond up with water, so that it will reach up to where the rats are, but then, he feels so bad for the rats that he puts the plank back. He goes and turns the water off to save the rats from drowning.

Later on, Willard's mother asks him if he killed the rats? Willard lies and tells her that he did. He plays with a rat that he names "Queenie." Willard starts teaching rats how to read words like: food and empty. He sees a white rat and takes an instant liking to it, so he names it: "Socrates", after the great thinker's wisdom. Willard sees a gigantic rat standing out among all of the other numerous rats, so he names the rat: "Ben."

Meanwhile, Willard get nagged by his boss Mr. Martin, at work. Mr. Martin refuses to give Willard a raise, etc...Mr. Martin urges Willard to sell the big house that he and his mother live in. Mr. Martin took the business over when Willard's father died, and it is where he and Willard work. Later on, Willard sneaks up to Mr. Martin's party with a suitcase full of rats. Willard opens the suitcase to let the rats out, so that the rats can get into the food and ruin the party. The rats obey Willard's commands, and the guests at the party are all running and screaming, while Willard is hiding behind a bush laughing at the whole scene.

Willard's Mother Dies

The next day Willard's mother dies, so that he is left to live alone. Willard get pressured by the banks to give up the house. Willard decides to take his two favorite rats: Socrates ad Ben, to work with him to the office, where he sets them on some shelves, and tells them to be good. One of Willard's friends at work gives him a cat named Chloe. Chloe is constantly clawing at the suitcase where Socrates and Ben are hiding. Willard gives the cat Chloe to someone he doesn't even know and he drives away in his car.

By now, the rat population is getting way too big, and Willard realizes that he can't afford to feed the rats much longer, so he steals money from his boss, Mr. Martin. Willard gets angry at Ben. He places Ben outside of his bedroom, but Ben keeps coming back in the bedroom. The next day Willard goes to work and takes Socrates and Ben with him. This time the rats are spotted by a worker, and the boss, Mr. Martin, bludgeons one of the rats (Socrates) to death. Willard is devastated by the death of Socrates: his favorite rat, Willard seeks revenge against Mr. Martin.

Willard Trains HIs Rats to Kill

Willard trains his rats to follow his commands, then goes to confront Mr. Martin, then orders his rats to kill Mr. Martin. Willard then leaves to go home, leaving Ben behind to abandon him. When Willard is at home, he begins sealing up all of the holes, so that the rats can't enter the house. He puts as many rats as he can in cages and in the pond to drown them.

Willard has dinner with a girl he likes, but is interrupted by Ben, who is staring right at him. He sees all of the rats running up the stairs from the basement. The girl is told to leave. After she leaves, he locks the door and confronts Ben. Willard, then begins mixing rat poison, but Ben can read and loudly squeaks and alerts the other rats. Willard, in an act of desperation, tries to hit the rat with a broom, but he misses. Willard runs up the stairs, and the rats come up after him. Willard stands terrified in the room, then, the rats chew through the door and tear Willard to pieces, killing him. There is a close up of Ben at the end of the movie.


"Ben" is the 1972 horror film, which is a sequel to "Willard." A lonely boy named Danny Garrison has a heart condition, and he befriends a rat named Ben (from the movie: Willard). Ben is the leader of the rats that are trained, they are telepathic and the rats are from the first movie: Willard. Ben becomes Danny's best friend, protects him from bullies and keeps his spirits up, because of Danny's heart condition.

Things take a downward turn as all of Ben's rats become violent and dangerous, which results in deaths. The police use flame throwers to destroy the rats, but Ben survives and makes his way back to Danny, who tends to the Ben's wounds, not wanting to lose his best friend. The movie "Ben" is known for its sentimental theme song by Michael Jackson, titled: Ben.

Ben, Last Scene

Facts About Rats

Rats are omnivores, they have bad vision, are colorblind. Rats have a fine sense of smell and use their whiskers for touch.

Rats can chew through concrete (uncured), metal and wood. Rats are affectionate, intelligent, and friendly animals according to sources that can be found on the Internet on the subject of rats. Rats are not very good at being omnivores. Rats are social animals that love to play and cuddle with other rats. Rats develop deep bonds with their rat pack. When a member of the rat pack get sick, the other members of the pack will care for it. A rat that is alone is an unhealthy rat as it will quickly become depressed and anxious; leading to anxiety.

According to some facts about rats, chocolate won't hurt them like it would a dog, and rats enjoy eating chocolate. Rats can get very sick from cedar and pine oil.

Willard and Ben


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    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Thanks, I am not really a big fan of rats, either, but I thought the movies were scary. Rats have a bad reputation and I would be scared of them. I have two cats, so hopefully no mice or rats will ever come through. I found some info on rats that's the positive aspect on them, but I would never have one as a pet. I like cats.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I am not a big fan of rats so any horror movie about them has me heading in the opposite direction. Having said that, nice job on the hub.