Night of the Lepus

Night of the Lepus

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Rabbits produce two things in obscene quanities: other rabbits and rabbit pellets. Thankfully, the only thing that “the pre-Monty Python killer rabbit movie” Night of the Lepus begat was the filmic equivalent of the latter. Not unlike the dire, one-joke Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, only played ludicrously straight, Lepus is a radically dull riff on the nature-run-amok genre utilizing what must’ve been the only animal not yet exploited for scares. And scares are exactly what the filmmakers didn’t get, not even with some vintage ‘70s-PG grue, not even with multiple close-ups of giant bunnies’ tusk-like buck teeth, or with Janet Leigh in that tweaky, full-on DT-shakes mode that came to characterize all her latter-day horror performances. The film takes place on a parched desert prairie that’s overrun by a plague of the fat lagomorpha, seriously pissing off a farmer who probably deserves all the grief coming to him, given he was moron enough to try to irrigate in the desert. He recruits a committee of ivory tower eggheads to come up with a solution, since rounding the herds up in fences and kicking them around only appears to spook the horses. Quicker than you can place bets on “playing God,” the scientists (Leigh and Stuart Whitman, in a “we nominated them for Oscars and this is how they repay the legacy” twofer) have 30 of the furballs sequestered in paper-lined cages with various pharmacological cocktails dripping down their slimy little throats. Rabbits don’t have vocal cords, so Big Science can’t hear them scream. Luckily, The Real God is a card-carrying member of PETA, and with the assistance of His loyal incarnation-on-Earth (in the form we all feared He’d take: a very blond, very terrible little actress), a tainted bunny ends up back in the wild. Once back in the underground network of caves, the rabbit apparently busts his polluted nut in gallons, because not even so much as a day later there are mysterious human mutilations and an ominous rumbling from the hills. Vengeance has a new face, foolish humans, and it is an absofuckinglute waste of time.

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DVD
Distributor
MGM
Runtime
88 min
Rating
PG
Year
1972
Director
William F. Claxton
Screenwriter
Don Holliday, Gene R. Kearney
Cast
Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun, DeForest Kelley, Paul Fix, Melanie Fullerton, Chris Morrell, Chuck Hayward, Henry Wills, Francesca Jarvis, William Elliott