Thursday, May 11, 2017

Night of the Lepus (1972)

Night of the Lepus (1972): adapted by Don Holliday and Gene R. Kearney from Russell Braddon's The Year of the Angry Rabbit; starring Stuart Whitman (Dr. Roy Bennett), Janet Leigh (Gerry Bennett), Rory Calhoun (Cole Hillman), and Deforest Kelley (Dr. Elgin Clark): This legendarily bad horror movie of the 1970's is indeed wonderfully bad. What makes it fun rather than unwatchable is that the cast is totally invested in everything that's going on. They're old pros. 

Indeed, they really are old pros -- this movie's cast is middle-aged and older in a way one almost never sees any more. The men are all grizzled and pleasantly homely. Janet Leigh is middle-aged and looks it. Everyone can act except the awful little girl who actually sets the environmental disaster in motion. She is terrible, though the film-makers do her no favours by having her yell "Mommy!" about a thousand times over the course of the movie.

Based on a novel with the improbable title The Year of the Angry Rabbit, Night of the Lepus involves man tampering with nature and accidentally creating giant, omnivorous, ultra-violent rabbits that soon rampage across the American Southwest. 

This is an actual shot from the movie of the giant rabbits in a restaurant.

With today''s CGI, this would be a hard sell. The movie resorts to a guy in an unconvincing rabbit suit for scenes involving people getting mauled. The rest of the rabbit effects involve slow-motion shots of rabbits running through miniature sets and close-ups of rabbits with what appears to be ketchup on their mouths. 

Fine moments abound as the rabbit horde imperils life as we know it. I'll leave you to the joy of discovering them yourself. Note that movie posters of the time didn't show the rabbits, suggesting that someone at the studio realized what a stinker they had on their hands. Do you know what isn't menacing? A still shot of rabbits sitting on a mound of dirt while sinister music plays. It just isn't. Recommended as a bad movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment