Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hare today, gone tomorrow: NIGHT OF THE LEPUS(1972)

I was asked recently by a casual friend which "bad" movie I like the most. Good question. There are numerous low budget horror and sci-fi schlockers that I am still greatly fond of. One of my all time favorite sci-fi stinkers remains Allied Artists' Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster(1965). Another low budget film also comes to mind which I watch whenever it makes the rounds on Turner Classic Movies: NIGHT OF THE LEPUS(1972), directed by William Claxton.

In this movie an Arizona rancher(played by Rory Calhoun) suffering from a "mongrel" rabbit infestation on his land seeks out the help of a local college president(played by DeForrest Kelley). A scientist and professor from the local college(Stuart Whitman) decides to take care of the rancher's rabbit problem by using genetic modification, specifically hormonal injections to disrupt the breeding cycles of these critters. Predictably, one of the injected rabbits escapes and infects other rabbits. Result: a horde of ornery, buck toothed rabbits as big as cattle which attack anyone and anything that gets in their way. The movie concludes with a final showdown between the human cast, local Army National Guard and the marauding giant rabbits.

The special effects are often laughable but I like the sequences in which the giant rabbits stampede across the countryside, and through residences and businesses, like angry bulls. I'm sure most people wouldn't consider rabbits an ideal animal upon which to base a horror film but the giant critters in this movie are no joke and once on the march, they open up a serious can of whoop ass on their victims. There is little gore but a good bit of action violence, grisly deaths(mostly implied), plenty of bright colored fake blood and actors Rory Calhoun and Stuart Whitman blasting away at the giant rabbits with their shotguns and rifles.

A trailer:

This movie is available on DVD(-R) as an "on demand" DVD from Warner Brothers, the movie presented in a 1:77.1 widescreen aspect ratio. To see this "on demand" DVD for sale at Amazon click the link: NIGHT OF THE LEPUS Warner Archive on demand DVD-R