Of Unknown Origin


1h 28m 1983
Of Unknown Origin

Brief Synopsis

An up-and-coming businessman is tormented by rats in his brownstone.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Release Date
1983
Production Company
Film House Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m

Synopsis

An up-and-coming businessman is tormented by rats in his brownstone.

Crew

Claude Alarie

Bestboy

Mable Arial

Accountant Assistant

David Bailery

Production Assistant

Peter Benison

Camera Operator

Tina Boden

Art Direction Coordinator

Peter Borowsky

Sculptor

France Boudreau

Script Supervisor

Chantal Bowen

Assistant Editor

Deirdre Bowen

Casting

Geoff Bowie

Production Assistant

Maurice Boyer

Production Assistant

Michel Boyer

Production Assistant

Claude Brasseur

Electrician

Rosina Bucci

Casting Assistant

Serge Bureau

Set Decorator

Peter Burgess

Sound Effects Editor

Terry Burke

Foley

Patricia Cahill

Other

Brian Campbell

Production Assistant

Richard Carriere

Production Assistant

Jacques Chamberland

Property Master

Marc Charlebois

Electrician

Don Cohen

Sound

Paul Coombe

Sound Rerecording

Tom Coulter

Set Dresser

Jean Courteau

Electrician

Louis Craig

Special Effects

Frank D'amico

Production Assistant

Ginette D'amico

Casting

Violette Daneau

Set Dresser

Gary Daprato

Sound Editor Assistant

Pierre David

Executive Producer

Jean-maurice Deernsted

Grip

Marc Deernsted

Key Grip

Teresa Deluca

Assistant Editor

Michael Devine

Construction Crew

Frank Digiacomo

Construction Crew

Michele Dion

Makeup

Robert Ditchburn

Production Assistant

Peter Dowker

Sculptor

Laurie Drew

Wardrobe

Robert Dunn

Animal Trainer

Stephan Dupuis

Special Makeup Effects

Linda Ekdahl

Production Assistant

Chantal Ethier

Makeup

Gilles Fortier

Electrician

Jacques Fortier

Gaffer

Jean-vincent Fournier

Props Assistant

David Franco

Music Supervisor

John Fretz

1st Assistant Director

Louise Gagne

Wardrobe

Denis Gingras

Other

Jacques Godbout

Special Effects

Paul Gravel

Other

Paul-andre Guerin

Costume Designer

Pierre Guevremont

Production Accountant

Denis Hamel

Set Dresser

Claude Heroux

Producer

Roger Heroux

Production Supervisor

Leslie Hodgson

Sound Editor Supervisor

Mike Hoogenboom

Sound Rerecording

Paul Hotte

Production Assistant

Kerry Kohler

Sound Editor Assistant

Nicholas Koppen

Production Assistant

Serge Ladouceur

Camera Operator

Serge Laforest

Construction Crew

Larry Lamont

Construction Crew

P Karen Langshaw

Sculptor

Nathalie Laporte

Accountant Assistant

Abraham Lee

Set Dresser

Gilles Leonard

Production Accountant

Richard Lewzey

Sound Recording Engineer

Jean Lysight

Stunts

Glen Macpherson

Other

Marilyn Majerczyk

Production Assistant

Serge Major

Other

Michael Martin

Production Assistant

Rose Marie Mcsherry

Art Direction

Martin Menard

Hairstyles

Piroska Mihalka

Stills

Patti Morein

Other

Monik Nantel

Assistant Executive Producer

Constant Natale

Hairstyles

Lawrence Nesis

Producer

Jak Oliver

Construction Crew

Francois Ouimet

Unit Manager

Chauncey G Parker Iii

Source Material (From Novel)

Christine Pelletier

Other

Hazel Pethis-cote

Wardrobe

Jean-francois Pouliot

Other

Anne Pritchard

Production Designer

Marc Rainville

Construction Crew

Frank Ruszczynski

2nd Assistant Director

Michael Sarao

Assistant Director

Chris Severn

Color Timer

Barbara Shrier

Set Dresser

Roberto Silvi

Editor

Marie-patricia St-laurent

Stunts

Alban Streeter

Dialogue Editor

Haydn Streeter

Sound Editor Assistant

Brian Taggert

Screenwriter

Jean-baptiste Tard

Set Dresser

Pierre Tessier

Production Assistant

Harold Thrasher

Construction Coordinator

Maurice Tremblay

Set Dresser

Jean Trudeau

Electrician

Bob Tschanz

Animal Handling Supervisor

Rene Verzier

Director Of Photography

Rene Verzier

Camera Operator

Normand Viau

Electrician

Ken Wannberg

Music

Bill Wiggins

Post-Production Supervisor

Al Woodbury

Original Music

Eric Zimmer

Boom Operator

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Release Date
1983
Production Company
Film House Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m

Articles

Of Unknown Origin


For over a decade after the success of Willard (1971), Hollywood still couldn't get enough of movies about rampaging rats both large and small. 1982 saw the odd James Herbert adaptation Deadly Eyes (with dachshunds stepping in as stunt rats for a few scenes), and even the family-friendly animated film The Secret of N.I.M.H. (1982) couldn't resist throwing in some traumatic moments among its mostly but not entirely friendly rat cast. Then came 1983, when moviegoers were confronted with another pair of rat-themed films: Nightmares, a four-story horror anthology originally intended as a pilot cobbled together from unused tales for the canceled (and wildly underrated) TV series Darkroom, and the most high-profile studio rat horror film of its day, Of Unknown Origin.

First announced to the trades as a production in progress on October 16, 1982, the film is based on a paperback novel by Chauncey G. Parker III whose rights were snapped up in February of 1981 by Canadian company Filmplan International via producers Pierre David, Victor Solnicki, and Claude Héroux. Those names should sound familiar to any '80s sci-fi or horror fan as they were three of the biggest movers and shakers from the Canadian tax shelter era and its immediate aftermath that resulted in a barrage of notable genre films like The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), and Visiting Hours (1982). Ultimately Solnicki departed by the time the film went before the cameras, with Héroux serving as producer and Pierre David as executive producer.

One fan of the source novel was director George P. Cosmatos, an Italian-born filmmaker who studied under Otto Preminger and made a name for himself with ambitious "Euro pudding" productions like Massacre in Rome (1973), The Cassandra Crossing (1976), and Escape to Athena (1979). The move to North America with this film would be fortuitous as his ability to work efficiently and on time led to a pair of Sylvester Stallone vehicles, the spectacularly successful Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and the hyperbolic cult favorite, Cobra (1986). Cosmatos took the initiative with this project when he tracked down the Canadian rights holders and offered his services, which were quickly accepted. "We've tried to create terror where terror belongs," Cosmatos noted in the film's press materials, "but without those torrents of blood on the screen. Instead of that you imply, you keep twisting and turning the mind."

Principal photography began in December of 1982 in Montreal as a co-production with Warner Bros, who has held rights to the film in the United States ever since. Cast in the lead role as embattled Bart Hughes is Peter Weller, an up-and-coming actor who made his Broadway debut in Sticks and Bones (which he also took to London) with additional theater roles in Summer Brave, The Wool Gatherers, and Full Circle. Weller made his feature debut in Butch & Sundance: The Early Days (1979) and quickly moved on to roles in Shoot the Moon (1982) and Just Tell Me What You Want (1980). His performance here demonstrated his ability to carry a film as the leading man, which was enough to earn him the title role in the financially unsuccessful but now hugely popular The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) as well as his most famous role to date, officer Alex Murphy, better known as RoboCop (1987). He and Cosmatos would also team up for another horror film with a more nautical and action-oriented twist, Leviathan (1989).

Presumably because it didn't fall into the then-popular slasher wave of the early '80s and had enough professional gloss to pass as a mainstream thriller, Warner Bros. did its best to camouflage the subject matter of Of Unknown Origin and never used the word "rat" in any of its promotional material. Initially billed as a "suspense drama" and then in the press kit classified quite amusingly as "a suspense thriller that charts the course of one man's victory over obsession," it was also described as "a kind of allegory of the 1980s - about our elegant goals and our primeval rage to survive." Much more direct was The Hollywood Reporter, who counted themselves among the film's several critical admirers: "Those who have a hankering for a good rat film will find one in Of Unknown Origin... This presentation is a sharp psychological horror story whose antagonist just happens to be a large, fang-toothed rodent." How could anyone resist that?

By Nathaniel Thompson
Of Unknown Origin

Of Unknown Origin

For over a decade after the success of Willard (1971), Hollywood still couldn't get enough of movies about rampaging rats both large and small. 1982 saw the odd James Herbert adaptation Deadly Eyes (with dachshunds stepping in as stunt rats for a few scenes), and even the family-friendly animated film The Secret of N.I.M.H. (1982) couldn't resist throwing in some traumatic moments among its mostly but not entirely friendly rat cast. Then came 1983, when moviegoers were confronted with another pair of rat-themed films: Nightmares, a four-story horror anthology originally intended as a pilot cobbled together from unused tales for the canceled (and wildly underrated) TV series Darkroom, and the most high-profile studio rat horror film of its day, Of Unknown Origin. First announced to the trades as a production in progress on October 16, 1982, the film is based on a paperback novel by Chauncey G. Parker III whose rights were snapped up in February of 1981 by Canadian company Filmplan International via producers Pierre David, Victor Solnicki, and Claude Héroux. Those names should sound familiar to any '80s sci-fi or horror fan as they were three of the biggest movers and shakers from the Canadian tax shelter era and its immediate aftermath that resulted in a barrage of notable genre films like The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), and Visiting Hours (1982). Ultimately Solnicki departed by the time the film went before the cameras, with Héroux serving as producer and Pierre David as executive producer. One fan of the source novel was director George P. Cosmatos, an Italian-born filmmaker who studied under Otto Preminger and made a name for himself with ambitious "Euro pudding" productions like Massacre in Rome (1973), The Cassandra Crossing (1976), and Escape to Athena (1979). The move to North America with this film would be fortuitous as his ability to work efficiently and on time led to a pair of Sylvester Stallone vehicles, the spectacularly successful Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and the hyperbolic cult favorite, Cobra (1986). Cosmatos took the initiative with this project when he tracked down the Canadian rights holders and offered his services, which were quickly accepted. "We've tried to create terror where terror belongs," Cosmatos noted in the film's press materials, "but without those torrents of blood on the screen. Instead of that you imply, you keep twisting and turning the mind." Principal photography began in December of 1982 in Montreal as a co-production with Warner Bros, who has held rights to the film in the United States ever since. Cast in the lead role as embattled Bart Hughes is Peter Weller, an up-and-coming actor who made his Broadway debut in Sticks and Bones (which he also took to London) with additional theater roles in Summer Brave, The Wool Gatherers, and Full Circle. Weller made his feature debut in Butch & Sundance: The Early Days (1979) and quickly moved on to roles in Shoot the Moon (1982) and Just Tell Me What You Want (1980). His performance here demonstrated his ability to carry a film as the leading man, which was enough to earn him the title role in the financially unsuccessful but now hugely popular The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) as well as his most famous role to date, officer Alex Murphy, better known as RoboCop (1987). He and Cosmatos would also team up for another horror film with a more nautical and action-oriented twist, Leviathan (1989). Presumably because it didn't fall into the then-popular slasher wave of the early '80s and had enough professional gloss to pass as a mainstream thriller, Warner Bros. did its best to camouflage the subject matter of Of Unknown Origin and never used the word "rat" in any of its promotional material. Initially billed as a "suspense drama" and then in the press kit classified quite amusingly as "a suspense thriller that charts the course of one man's victory over obsession," it was also described as "a kind of allegory of the 1980s - about our elegant goals and our primeval rage to survive." Much more direct was The Hollywood Reporter, who counted themselves among the film's several critical admirers: "Those who have a hankering for a good rat film will find one in Of Unknown Origin... This presentation is a sharp psychological horror story whose antagonist just happens to be a large, fang-toothed rodent." How could anyone resist that? By Nathaniel Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1983

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1983