Graveyard Rats: As a sign of civilization, funerary rites are a key indicator that we value the collective over our gains. Dead bodies are not all the same. Rats will eat them up after they’ve been buried. Grave robbers may also profane the final resting places of deceased people to find jewelry to sell. Vincenzo Natali ( Cube and Splice) is based on a short story by Henry Kuttner. “Graveyard Rats,” a documentary about a grave robber, follows him as he digs for treasure and discovers more than he expected. This episode of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities asks whether rats are the actual pest.
“Graveyard Rats” takes us to Salem in the early 20th century. It still recalls the witch purge of Minister Cotton Mather that revealed an underground network with tunnels and Black Churches where devil worshippers went. Masson ( David Hewlett) will soon uncover its dark secrets. At the same time, Salem’s satanic history is deep under the city. It all happened because of an evil swarm, a card game gone wrong, and the deadly greed in his heart.
Masson vs. Graveyard Rats
The episode opens with two grave robbers, Ish Morris and Alexander Eling, digging up a new body to find buried treasure. Masson, the grave keeper, catches them red-handed and holds a gun in one of his hands. We find out that Masson isn’t so innocent after the criminals leave. He then retrieves the jewelry the grave robbers stole and proceeds to remove the exposed gold tooth from the dead body. Masson is bitten by a rat and loses his tooth. This is a subtle sign that the gravediggers have been fighting the vermin for a while.
Masson took the jewelry he had recovered to Hans Overfist ( Nabeel El Khafif). Masson’s items are not enough to cover a playing card debt. Masson’s gambling addiction causes him to owe money, and Hans informs him that he has only one week to pay the debt with blood. Masson attempts to explain that rats steal bodies from dead people, preventing him from finding as many treasures as he used to. Hans gets tired of hearing excuses and emphasizes how Masson will be a corpse if it is not paid for soon.
Masson wants to make money, so he visits the morgue. Dooley, the coroner’s assistant, receives him. Dooley is in a long-term deal with Masson. Dooley informs the gravedigger when people are buried with valuable items. After Dooley has gifted him a flask containing a mysterious drug called The Devil’s Elixir, Masson is allowed to inspect all the bodies currently in existence. Masson might be doomed if it seems that everybody belongs to poor people. He finds a man with gold teeth who has found a way to save his soul.
Masson cannot play dentist with the corpse until the coroner ( Dean Buchanan ) returns to the mortuary with the deceased’s family for identification. Masson is hidden behind a shelf as the family talks about funeral arrangements. Masson discovers that the family plans to bury the man with all his precious medals and a saber that King George gifted him, which Masson describes as priceless. Masson can now pay off his debt and earn more money. Masson prays to God that he will guide him to the right place and time to retrieve his saber. Masson’s prayers are interrupted by a vision of rats falling from a ceiling. This sign is something he decides to ignore.
Masson visits the grave of the deceased man the day following the funeral. He also plays a part in the burial and rushes back into the cemetery once the sun goes down. Masson is unable to find the body in time. Masson opens the coffin and sees the rats pulling the cadaver out of the ground. They steal Masson’s prize. Masson decides that he must get his precious saber back. He crawls through the hole to pursue his rodent enemies. This quick decision leads him to a maze made of dirt and rabid animals.
Masson crawls through tunnels to chase the rats. He presses against walls to keep from falling through the holes in the ground. Masson attempts to grab a piece of wood from the ground, but the ceiling falls on him and closes the path to safety. Masson gathers strength and resolves to fight to escape the terrible situation. Masson can’t believe how many prayers he makes, but the situation keeps getting worse as a swarm attack of rats on him. Masson shoots his foot and uses his pistol to chase the creature away. Masson finally hits one furry creature, drawing the attention of Queen Rat ( Kurt Cart), a massive rodent with a large body and pustules.
Masson shoots the creature, but the Queen Rat rips his arms open. He crawls as fast and furiously as possible to avoid a bloody death. Masson, crawling through the tunnels quickly, falls through a hole and lands on a pile full of human bones. Masson stands in a room part of one of the Black Churches. He can see a frightening statue of a demon with sharp fangs. The stolen bodies’ bones make it seem like rats live in the church.
Masson was surprised to discover that all the corpses’ valuable items in their graves could still be found among the bones. This includes the rich man’s sword. Masson takes the treasure and grabs the saber. Masson then turns his attention to the golden necklace hanging around a mummy-like corpse. It is as if it were worshiping the statue of the demon. Masson is too greedy to be prudent. However, he is surprised to find that the devil worshiper appears to be able to retrieve the jewelry from Masson’s body as soon as he takes the necklace off. Masson, realizing he can’t fight the undead monster, takes refuge in another tunnel and climbs slowly upwards while the zombie chases him.
Masson finds himself in a cave with loose rocks at the ceiling. Masson tries to make the rocks fall to block the zombie’s path. Masson is not a fortunate man, though, as the Queen Rat decides that she wants to join the party through a different tunnel. Masson makes one last stand in the small room and, against all odds, drops a boulder over the Queen Rat. This kills the creature and traps the zombie. While he lost the saber, there is still enough treasure to pay off his debt. Masson is saved when he sees the light at the end of a tunnel that just opened because of the cave-in.
Masson thanks God for protecting him and vows to be a good man once he has escaped the tunnels. Masson is not yet free from the graveyard rats, especially since he killed their queen. Masson exerts all his strength climbing through the tunnel to search for the sun and lighting the path with his flashlight. Masson does not wait for the day to come when he finds himself inside a coffin. He saw the light from his flashlight reflecting on the epitaph metal plaque inside the coffin. Masson is left with no choice but to fight the graveyard rats.
The episode ends exactly as it began, with the two grave robbers digging out a corpse. To their surprise, they discover Masson’s corpse when they open the coffin. If anyone was still unsure about the horrible death of the gravedigger, Masson’s body was opened by the graveyard rats who ate his guts.