Awfully Good: Night of the Lepus

I hope your Easter basket this year contains rabbits made of chocolate and not pure evil.

Night of the Lepus (1972)

Director: William F. Claxton
Stars: Janet Leigh, DeForest Kelley, Stuart Whitman

Is there a plot?

Ever wanted to see a full-length movie based on the killer rabbit from MONTY PYHTON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, with equally laughable special effects?

What's the damage?

NIGHT OF THE LEPUS is the cutest horror movie ever made. Even if they technically were coming to feast on your innards, who wouldn't want to live in a town overrun with giant, fuzzy, cuddly bunnies? All you would hear is the "It's so fluffy!" line from DESPICABLE ME as I spent my dying breath trying to pet Big Harvey one last time.

Dr. Phil finally learned that what Oprah creates, she can also destroy.

In case all the scary newsreels and talk about DDT pesticides didn't tip you off, the film sets out to be an environmental parable about the dangers of overpopulation and messing with Mother Nature, but really LEPUS is just a cinematic lesson in having stupid children. Sure, the scientists inject the rabbits with an unknown serum in an attempt to curve their burgeoning population, but the real reason for CUTENESS ARMAGEDDON '72 is the farmer's idiot daughter. Despite a stern warning from her dad, the little girl switches out one of the infected rabbits she thinks is cuter and takes it home to release back in to the wild. Of course, all hell breaks loose, but does the girl get punished for her mistake that costs innocent townspeople their lives and the government millions of dollars? No! Great injustice!

A rare glimpse at what Jenna Jameson's vagina sees when she goes to the gynecologist.

So how exactly did the filmmakers create such enormous killer bunnies four decades ago without the help of CGI? That's what makes NIGHT OF THE LEPUS truly amazing! They used normal pet store rabbits…and made everything else smaller! Most of the time the animals are just hopping around what are clearly miniature sets, but they do valiantly try other techniques, like horribly fake greenscreen, roaring sound effects, or extreme close ups of their adorable faces covered in blood and shot from low angles. There might be one or two shots in the entire movie where there's an actual rabbit in the same frame as a living actor. And for those they use a full grown man in a bunny suit. No, really, a man in a bunny suit.

Once Mr. McGregor bought his flame thrower, Peter Rabbit's days were numbered.

When you combine everything together, it makes for perhaps the lease effective, let alone scary, creature effect since the invisible dinosaurs in THE SOUND OF HORROR. Whenever the rabbits do something terrible like devour live horses or attack humans (including PSYCHO's Janet Leigh and STAR TREK's DeDorest Kelley), you can tell the animals are really just hopping along happily on the set. When they invade the family's house and destroy everything, it's simply a bunch of cute bunnies eating food in a dollhouse. OH, THE HUMANITY!

How do you know when you re eating rabbit stew? When it has hares in it! (rimshot)

"Best" Line

I'm honestly not sure how I would inform a large crowd that killer rabbits were coming, but it would probably involve more screaming and cursing.

"Best" Parts

Enjoy some of the best bunny kills, terrible bunny effects (can you spot Man In Suit?) and the incredibly annoying daughter.

Nudity Watch

None, although DeForst Kelley's moustache suggests he could be shooting a Star Trek porno.


One rabbit stew comin' right up! Buy this movie here!

Play Along at Home!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • A rabbit kills someone or something
  • A rabbit roars
  • A rabbit is shot
  • There's an awkward kiss

Double shot if:

  • A rabbit catches fire

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: Digital Dorm
Tags: awfully good



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