Night of the Lepus

Director: William F. Claxton

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

One of the goofiest excuses for a horror film was ne of the goofiest excuses for a horror film was Night of the Lepus (1972) about giant killer rabbits.

Rabbits photographed close-up to look big as they "rampage" in long slow lopes, or inside miniature sets, or loping through a village of dollhouses. The FX are so bad that during a bluescreen scene you can see right through the rabbits.

Night of the LepusThe bun-buns always look so darned friendly. Smear a little cherry syrup on their muzzles, photograph them washing their faces, ooo, shivers.

For anyone who happened to have an unreasoning fear of rabbits, this would be the ultimate in terror. For anyone else, it's our cue for a Bad Movie Night Party.

It's almost impossible to believe it had a "literary" origin in The Year of the Angry Rabbit (1964) by Austrian novelist Russell Braddon (1921-1995). The novel was a political satire about government corruption & ineptitude disguised as near-future science fiction, & set in Australia where the introduction of rabbits as an alien species really has caused a great deal of trouble.

The film by comparison seems only accidentally funny & is set neither in Australia nor the future, nor does it wryly lampoon anything. We're completely supposed to be afraid of bunnies.

Conceivably some earlier draft of the screenplay did want to be funny & the director didn't get it so made the movie to be serious, as now & then there's a one-liner delivered in a pokerfaced manner that'll crack you up. And when the rabbits rip open a Mac truck early in the story, note what they were after, then ask yourself if that's really evidence of flesh-eating murderousness.

Amazingly it has a good cast -- Stuart Whitman & Janet Leigh as married scientifists, Rory Calhoun as a rabbit-hatin' farmer, DeForest Kelly as a college professor out in a field fighting bunnies with dynamite. Since none of them are bothering to try to act, we can only wonder how they all came to be so desparate for work that this would do.

Most inept movies are bad & quickly forgotten & leave one regretting the wasted time. This one will stick with you, like witnessing a train wreck, more entertainingly ridiculous than most of the many giant animal & nature-attack films that proliferated at the time.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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