Cole Hillman's Arizona ranch is plagued with 'mongrel' rabbits, and he wants to employ an ecologically sound control method. As a favor to college benefactor Hillman, college president Elgin Clark calls in zoologist Roy Bennett to help. Bennett immediately begins injecting rabbits with hormones and genetically mutated blood in an effort to develop a method of disrupting rabbit reproduction. One of the test subjects escapes, resulting in a race of bloodthirsty, wolf-sized, man-, horse-, and cow-eating bunnies. Eventually the National Guard is called in for a final showdown with the terrorizing rabbits.
Directed by: William F. Claxton
. Starring: Stuart Whitman
, Janet Leigh
, Rory Calhoun
, DeForest Kelley
, Paul Fix
, Melanie Fullerton
, Chris Morrell
, Chuck Hayward
, Henry Wills
, Francesca Jarvis
, William Elliott
, Bob Hardy
, Richard Jacome
. Music by: Jimmie Haskell
this sure is some goofy, rabbity, rubbish all right. But let's take a moment and reflect about the sights and sounds of this super-silly schlockfest from the 70's.
Night of the Lepus is a ridiculously terrible movie in virtually every aspect, though on the other hand, it certainly does have what it takes to keep you entertained - but probably not in the way that it's creators intended. It's a well known fact that Disaster flicks were popular throughout the 70's, but this movie is among the worst of it's kind. The film stars Janet Leigh, Stuart Whitman and Rory Calhoun, it was released onto the world in 1972 and was produced at just under a million dollars. The Night of the Lepus is a movie based upon the impossibly stupid idea of giant-sized rabbits running amuck out in the deserts of the western United States, hordes of them, in the form of midnight stampedes, causing vast swathes of death and destruction wherever they roam.
The film starts off with an infestation of, shall we say normal rabbits, but due to some scientific misadventures (and then later through the use of lots of laughably bad special effects) the rabbits grow to giant-sized proportions and once that's happened, this awful movie rapidly blossoms into an incredibly ridiculous actioncomedy of sorts. But judging by the acting seen in this movie, it's my guess that it's creators weren't thinking of it as being such; but regardless of their true intent, this movie is fantastically stupid and ham-handed to an extreme and just wait till you see the movies TERRIBLE looking special effects.
Let's dig a little deeper on the matter of Night of the Lepus's special effects, firstly it's numerous effect shots are the driving force behind, not just the giant rabbits, but the movie itself and they account for the vast majority of the films action. So in other words there's a lot to mention. As it should be obvious to anyone with more then three brain-cells, this film is a first-rate showcase of second-rate special effects; and to my way of thinking the effects are the best AND the worst part of the movie. But getting to the specifics of it, the giant rabbits are brought to life through a combination of overtly fake-looking rabbit puppets of varying sizes and to go one further it appears the crew used rabbit "mittens" in some of the close-up shots, that involve giant rabbits mauling human victims. Then we have the model work to speak of which appears in the form of one unconvincing miniature set after another, there must be at least a dozen such sets used in total, of which not a single one of them fools the eye, not for even a second. But by far the most often used of all these so-called special effects, has to be the liberal use of close-upslow-motion footage of rabbits, which somehow the idiots behind this crappy movie apparently thought that showing rabbits, which are obviously of normal-size, in slow-motion would somehow impart a sense of gigantism to them and well.... just like all the other FX in this movie, that really didn't work too well. Then at the end we have the "electrifying" finale to speak of, which is truly a grand send-off to a terrible, terrible, movie. Is that burnt "hare" I smell?
The bestfunniest mistake seen in this exceptionally poorly-made movie involves a shot of one of it's many miniature sets, where a guy (who was probably an animal handler) is plainly visible in the background (who not surprisingly looks like a giant himself among all the so-called giant rabbits), is seen running away trying to get out of frame - in a vain attempt to avoid being in this downright awful movie.
And for those who like to experience nostalgia through movies you are definitely in for a treat with Night of the Lepus. Seeing as how this movie dates back to the early 70's, Lepus comes loaded to the gills with all sorts of visuals from a bygone era. Which without fail tends to give this film a very dated appearance. If one were to keep a checklist you'd find that all the usual culprits such as music, cars, clothes, hair-styles, facial hair, are all here in great abundance. But best of all this movie has one of those big bulky "El Dorado" truckcampers from the 60's and 70's, which is prominently featured in several scenes throughout the movie. Hell it showcases the thing. And with that being said, I don't know about you, but speaking for myself, the mere sight of a truckcamper, especially one that size is always good for a laugh. Because lets be honest, a truckcamper isn't exactly the sexiest thing on four wheels, now is it.
In the end what we have here with Night of the Lepus, is a production that's based upon the most ludicrously stupid of notions (i.e. giant rabbits) and then ham-handedly put together in the most unconvincing way imaginable. The end-result is a terrible as it is funny and it ultimately makes for a hilarious accidental comedy..
Review by Idiot-Deluxe from the Internet Movie Database.