Director – William F. Clayton (Thriller, The Twilight Zone)
Starring – Stuart Whitman (Deadly Intruder, The A-Team), Janet Leigh (Psycho, The Fog), and Rory Calhoun (Motel Hell, Tales from the Crypt)
Release Date – 1972
Rating – 3.5/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
Tagline – “How many eyes does horror have? How many times will terror strike?”
I watched a lot of fun movies when I would stay with my grandmother as a child. She had a fondness for sci-fi flicks and I would often find us watching sci-fi movies that borrowed heavily from horror. These movies were almost always cheesy but still extremely entertaining. When I was in the fourth grade a channel, possibly the Sci-Fi Channel at the time, was running a cheesy horror movie fest. It was at this time that I saw some classic horror movies. One of which was the 1972 Night of the Lepus.
When I went to school and told my friends about the movie they didn’t believe me. I thought the movie was ridiculously fun but it was far from perfect. Sometime ago, longer than I would have licked, Scream Factory released the film on blu. I had to have it so I reached out to Scream to see if they would send a review copy over. They agreed and here we are!
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a rancher who has a problem with rabbits on his property. He had a similar issue before with coyotes but once they were removed the rabbits multiplied rapidly. He seeks the help from two scientists who try an experiment on a couple rabbits they picked up from the ranch. Their daughter sneaks behind their back and swaps the rabbits out because she has grown attached to one. That rabbit was then accidentally released into the wild and mutants. Soon there is an army of giant rabbits feasting on the people and it’s up to the two scientists and the military to stop them before they spread to other small cities. **Spoiler Alert**
Night of the Lepus is one of those films that people proclaim are so bad they are good which is so fucking stupid to me. If a movie entertains then it did it’s job regardless of how it did it.
The acting in this one is solid in some of the scenes but the cast hams it up in others. Some of the characters are completely ridiculous and unrealistic (I get it that its a killer rabbit movie) while other characters are more grounded. The cast works with what they have and the scenes are entertaining because of it. My favorite scenes involve the cast dying. The cast in these scenes really go over the top with their acting and it reminds me a lot of the horror and sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s.
The story for this one is completely ridiculous but fun as fuck. Giant mutated rabbits eating ranchers is fucking gold if you ask me. Sure, its goofy ninety percent of the time but it’s still late night horror fun. The pacing is actually pretty smooth. My only real complaint with the film is that the tension is ruined by the idea of killer giant rabbits.
Finally, the film uses old camera tricks and movie magic to make the giant rabbits work but it comes off as extremely cheesy. Along with that we have some pretty poor practical effects and men in rabbit costumes that is guaranteed to get a laugh out of you. Overall, Night of the Lepus is far from perfect but you can’t deny how entertaining it is. The movie is one you will find yourself analyzing several days later. I highly recommend checking out this gorgeous blu from Scream Factory.
NEW 2K Scan From The Original Film Elements
NEW Audio Commentary By Author Lee Gambin (Massacred By Mother Nature: Exploring The Natural Horror Film)
NEW Audio Commentary By Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball