I’m not really afraid of rats. But while I personally tend to abide by a pretty “live and let live” code where vermin are concerned (as long as the creature in question keeps out of my apartment), New York City has an absolutely insane density of rats. It’s not as bad as in years past, but it’s a rare subway ride when I don’t see at least one varmint happily waddling over the tracks, and I cede to that. We’re in actual underground tunnels—rats are simply the wildlife with whom we must share that subterranean space.
Above ground however, they begin to become a health hazard, and while the city tends to favor the idiotic approach of lacing every garbage-filled and/or overgrown area with poison (poison that presents its own health hazards), the best way to deal with rats is to create an inhospitable environment. Mowing empty lots and removing debris would certainly fix a lot of the problem, but all of that is futile if you’re just going to throw your delicious edible garbage in the street. And that’s where David Lynch comes in.
In what is quite possibly the coolest anti-littering public service announcement ever, Lynch gives viewers a phantasmagoria of rat horror. Frederick Elmes (the cinematographer for both Wild at Heart and Night on Earth) was director of photography on this 1991 anti-rat opus, and it’s a pretty masterful little bit of messaging—the rats are mere beasts, but littering assholes, THEY are the true monsters!