Night of the Lepus (1972): Giant mutant rabbits terrorize the southwest!!
That’s the IMDB description of this “movie.” I sh*t you not. What do you get when you combine an overbearing environmental message, terrible acting, and a director who forgets the fundamental rules of movie making with giant killer bunnies? If you guessed the greatest movie of all time, you would be right. Night of the Lepus is a movie that…well…has a rather large cult following behind it, and when you watch the 88 minute “movie” you’ll see why. It starts out as a very serious (and as a result terrible) horror picture that tries to make you think about overconsumption in our current day and age. However, by the end of the movie, you can sense that director William Claxton had completely lost control of the story and as a result just said f*ck it, we’ll do it live! And threw together one of the worst fight scenes ever put on film in the third act. For example, all the bunnies in the third act looked like this…
Ya. It looked like there were people just off screen throwing stuffed rabbits at the camera. It was beyond hysterical, though obviously not in a good way. This left you, the viewer, laughing hysterically at the movie and clearly thinking this was the greatest movie of all time. And we’re just getting started.
So, let’s take a minute and talk about the actors who signed up for this movie. Unlike Manos: The Hands of Fate, which I have reviewed previously, there are real life actual Hollywood stars in this movie! A post-Psycho Janet Leigh is in this, as well as a, brace yourself, post-Star Trek Deforest Kelley. Yup. The man most known for playing McCoy in Star Trek decided that he should be in this….thing. I mean I can’t even claim crash-grabs here. To show up in this movie would just be out of desperation. And what’s really sad is the fact that the actors actually look depressed as they deliver their lines. The emotion they convey the most is, “why am I here? Why am I putting myself through this?” it isn’t painful. It made me sad to see these guys struggle as much as they did through this movie. And I’m not done.
Then there was the director. William Claxton. Shame on you. You know what’s really sad? Claxton actually had a reputation at the time as being a decent director. When he made this “movie” he was in the middle of directing, wait for it, Bonanza. Yup. You heard me right. This man has directed 57 episodes of one of the greatest western TV shows ever. 57 episodes. You would think that after 57 episodes of filmmaking he would understand the basic rules of filmmaking. Actually, you know what? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I’ll say he just didn’t care enough to adhere to them. Things like the invisible wall rule, where a camera is expected to stay on only one side of the action so as to give us some sort of direction, or the if-its-nighttime-don’t-put-a-daytime-scene-in-the-middle-of-it rule, which pretty much explains itself, are ignored. Ya obviously that isn’t the name of the rule, but it would likely be labeled under coherent editing, which this movie does not have. It was actually kind of funny when the stock shots they’d get of horses running around in a nighttime scene had the sun in the background of the shot, to be completely honest. The action scenes of this movie made a Michael Bay fight scene seem coherent. My God was it bad. And I’m still going!
Let’s talk about the message real quick. So there’s an overbearing environmental message in this movie. The message was warning us about overconsumption. Ok. I’ve seen a movie have an overbearing message before. This is nothing new. But never have I seen a movie go so extremely overboard with the message that it basically says, “Watch out. If you don’t stop over consuming, you will die. You will die with extreme prejudice.” What do I mean by this? Well, I’m going to assume you don’t care about knowing what happens in the movie. So by the end, there are thousands of giant killer rabbits on the loose. So, how do they solve the problem? By using innocent bystanders as bait to get the rabbits to a specific point? Ya. Sounds about right. Not only that, but the cops and national guard kill the rabbits with firearms, and decided that these innocent bystanders need to be downrange from the gunfire. Ya. Sounds about right. 10/10 best plan. Ever. If it weren’t for the ridiculously unrealistic rabbits being thrown at the camera in this scene, this movie would be the worst movie I’ve ever seen. However thanks to the fact that this movie is hilariously bad, it is slightly better than unwatchable. ‘Nuff said.
The Critique: Giant Killer. Bunnies.
The Recommendation: Giant. Killer. Bunnies.
Rewatchability: Giant. Killer. Bunnies.
The Verdict: 1/10. Giant. Killer. Bunnies.
So you may be wondering why I put myself through that movie. Well, because as of around December of 2014, Enter the Movies has reached the milestone of 100,000 views. Holy crap. That is a lot of views. I don't necessarily know who all of you are that read this blog, but I thank each and every one of you for doing so. I'm honored that you have incorporated my thoughts and opinions into your daily lives. It truly means a lot to me. Thank you, once again, and here's to another 100,000 views!
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