Night of the Lepus

Year of Release: 1972
Genre:  Horror / Sci-Fi / Thriller
IMDB Rating: 3.9 / 10
Level of Awful: High

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Modern, low-budget filming techniques make it possible for any fool out there with a video camera, half a dozen friends, an axe and a topless female to make a horror movie. Now while I celebrate this achievement by watching and absorbing as much crap as I can, there’s a different kind of joy to be found in the simplicity of a 70s cheese-fest. And Night of the Lepus is definitely a cheese-fest, and most definitely not one of Janet Leigh’s (best known from the shower scene in Psycho and as the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis) better moments. She has openly admitted to trying to forget as much as she could about making this movie, and I don’t blame her. Most of the rabbits that were in this movie would deny having had anything to do with it.

Our movie begins on an educational note, informing the audience of the dangers rabbits pose to farmers and the destruction they inflict on food crops. We are then informed that this destruction threatens the very existence of the human race and every other animal on the planet. This minor education in the dangers of rabbits takes us to Cole Hillman’s farm, where thousands of rabbits are making their way through his crops and threatening mankind’s existence as shown in the educational video. Now Hillman is a good man and believes in respecting the balance of nature and doesn’t want to poison the rabbits so instead he calls in Roy and Gerry Bennett, a husband and wife team of scientists to genetically alter the rabbits so that they can either no longer breed or the offspring are born with horrible birth defects.

Sadly, as most b-horrors teach us, genetic experiments of this kind never go according to plan. This is especially true when the Bennett’s daughter Amanda  decides to swap one of the control rabbits around with the one of the experimental rabbits. The problem is that Amanda’s father had no idea what the serum he injected the rabbit with would do to it, but because a friend sent it to him he thought he’d try it out. How badly can this kind of thing go wrong anyway? In the meantime Amanda, in that sneaky way that only little girls can do, convinces her parents to let her keep the experimental rabbit. They agree, not stopping to think that their little girl would willingly disobey by swapping around an innocent little bunny with Satan’s own furry little pet.

Unfortunately this highly experimental rabbit is set free by one of Amanda’s friends and, once underground, begins to mutate and grow to the size of a horse. Even more unfortunate is the fact that, once the rabbit gets to this size and begins to infect other rabbits, they begin to develop a taste for human flesh (although, in a pinch, an actual horse or cow will do the trick). It is now up to the Bennetts, Cole Hillman, their friend Elgin Clark and Sheriff Cole to stop the rabbits before they have a chance to migrate into the ‘major’ towns (population +- 200) and ‘eat’ the inhabitants (when being ‘eaten’ the victims have a can of rose-red paint thrown on them).

While this is the actual plot-line of the movie the majority of its 88 minute running time is taken up by the crew placing the rabbits on what are clearly miniature sets to emphasise how big the rabbits have become. Also, while the movie is called Night of the Lepus, taking into account the time required for genetic experimentation, time for infection to spread as well as the birth of newly infected rabbits, this movie should in fact be renamed to Fortnight of the Lepus, even if it feels like an eternity is passing you by before anything actually happens in the movie itself.

THINGS I’VE LEARNED:

  • Animal rights REALLY weren’t a big deal in the 70s.
  • Giant bunnies roar like lions.
  • When running, giant bunnies make the same noise as air bubbles under water.
  • Causing debilitating birth defects in newborn rabbits is more humane that poisoning them.
  • Giant bunnies move in slow motion.
  • Giant bunnies will leap off mountains to catch their prey by surprise at the bottom.
  • People question nothing when they are told that man-eating rabbits are approaching town and the National Guard needs to use them as bait to catch the rabbits.
  • Children should not be punished for unleashing man-eating genetic experiments on the general public.

 

Posted on December 30, 2010, in Awful Level: High and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This one is a classic!!

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