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Night Of The Lepus (1972)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Genres / Traits:
Horror, Natural Horror, Rabbits
Director:
William F. Claxton William F. Claxton
Starring:
Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman
Janet Leigh Janet Leigh
Rory Calhoun Rory Calhoun
DeForest Kelley DeForest Kelley
Paul Fix Paul Fix

4.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Bill Wolford
Added: April 24, 2011
Well, happy Easter horror lovers, and what could be a better holiday film for us to eat our chocolate bunnies with than "Night of the Lepus." I watched an obviously cut version of this on TV as a kid in the 70's, but get the DVD, and you can put little Suzie off cuddly rabbits forever!!

Ah yes, another nature goes crazy film from the 70's. It seems as though we had a lot of those back in the day. Day of the Animals, Food of the Gods, Empire of the Ants, just to name a few. And of course this one. As funny of a premise as this sounds, the movie was actually based on a book. We have the plot of a rancher (Rory Calhoun; Motel Hell) having problems with an overpopulation of rabbits ruining his fields for the cattle. A Zoologist (DeForest Kelley; Star Trek) has helped the rancher before, removing coyotes from his land, thus the reason for the rabbit population. He has an idea though, to get his friend and his wife, lab specialists (Stuart Whitman and Janet Leigh), to do some lab experiments on the rabbits to see if they can lower the population by natural means and not chemical ones.

Through a mix up in the rabbit cages and one of the bunnies getting loose, we have a far bigger problem, literally. Giant rabbits!! Hundreds of them, and it seems as though they are on a rampage at night only, holing up in different places during the day. The characters of the film have to band together with volunteers and the national guard to have a final showdown. Does the plan work? Spend this afternoon gnawing on your chocolate Easter bunnies to find out!

Now, the premise of this movie has always seemed a silly one, but this is a good little scare flick with a very strong cast. The only problem I've ever had with the film is its special effects. I know it was the 70's, and they had to do miniatures and such. But you see the same special effects shot three or four times during the film. And as a movie that asks you to suspend your disbelief in a huge way, this can easily take you out of the moment to wonder why they couldn't get more SF shot produced for a major studio film.

This type of film has an unusually strong cast, and that's exactly what it needed to keep this film from becoming laughable. Every one of them plays their part seriously and the story moves along at a good speed because of this. There is a lot of action in the movie and you know that everyone involved must have had a great time working on it.

Should you add this DVD to your collection? Well, if you've only ever seen the cut up prints on television, then yes you should. It's still only rated PG (It would get a PG-13 if released today I believe). But there is more blood and bunny death in the DVD version. Its a pretty bare bones release, with only the trailer for an extra. But the film can be found in bargain bins, or at a bargain price, so pick it up for an Easter holiday horror film to be enjoyed by all! 5/10.
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