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Day Of The Animals (1977)

DVD Cover (Shriek Show)
Action, Horror, Natural Horror, Thriller
William Girdler William Girdler
Christopher George Christopher George
Leslie Nielsen Leslie Nielsen
Lynda Day George Lynda Day George
Richard Jaeckel Richard Jaeckel
Michael Ansara Michael Ansara

5.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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The depletion of the earth's ozone layer causes animals above the altitude of 5000 feet to run amok, which is very unfortunate for a group of hikers who get dropped off up there by helicopter just before the quarantine is announced. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: January 29, 2005
In this tale of man versus nature, we find nature guide Steve Buckner (Christopher George) leading a pack of city slickers on a hike down the side of a mountain and through some woods. He managed to get quite the group going for this particular hike, so bear with me as I run through the gang. We have ad executive Paul Jenson (Leslie Nielsen), news anchorwoman Terry Marsh (Lynda Day George), scientist and amateur photographer Professor MacGregor (Richard Jaeckel), an Indian fellow by the name of Daniel Santee (Michael Ansara), spoiled rich bitch Shirley Goodwyn (Ruth Roman) and her son Jon (Bob Porter), a couple involved in a failing marriage by way of Frank (Jon Cedar) and Mandy Young (Susan Backlinie), another couple involving Bob Dennings (Andrew Stevens) and Beth Hughes (Kathleen Bracken), and finally, the cancer-suffering ex-football player Roy Moore (Paul Mantee). Twelve people in all, and every last one of them hop into one of two waiting helicopters which eventually drop them off at the top of the mountain, at which point they'll make their way down the trails leading through the woods until they get back to the town. However, shortly after the helicopters drop the group down and take off, a news report comes across on the TV's back in town... due to the rapidly deteriorating ozone layer, an abnormal amount of U/V rays are hitting the earth, especially in places of higher altitudes (such as the top of a mountain). These U/V rays cause animals to become overly aggressive and attack just about anything that moves, and what better place to be than in the woods at the top of a mountain when this occurs?

This turned out to be another one of those movies that had a good premise, but completely choked when it came to the execution. The storyline itself is fine, no real complaints there... it's the way that the thing unfolds that really brings the quality down. Everything moves along at such a slow pace, that you really don't care too much by the time things finally start happening. As things roll along, we'll see the group laughing, joking, and galloping through the woods... and then we'll see a hawk watching them. The group will carry on a bit more, and then we cut over to a bear walking around. Some more walking is had by the humans, and then we see a dog back in town with some nasty snarling action going on. That same trend continues with various woodland critters well into the fifty minute mark of the movie, which resulted in nothing more than quite a few yawns from your faithless reviewer. Things wouldn't have been quite so bad had this time been spent on something like, I dunno, character development or storyline building, but again, that's not to be had here. The movie turns into one of those films where you have four or five blatantly obvious "main" characters, and a whole group of people that you know are around only to serve as animal fodder at some point. The scientist takes a bunch of pictures, the Indian gives sage advice, the spoiled rich bitch yells at her son, the ad executive acts like an asshole, the nature guide leads the gang through the woods, everyone else sort of hangs back serving as extras, and nobody does much of anything outside of those predesignated roles. Things do get a bit better when the party splits off into two groups, but by then, it's far too late to save this movie.

Even though the movie does have a fair deal of problems, it also has some nice things going on for it. After the storyline finally picks up, it does turn out to be fairly interesting, though I stand by the claim that it would have been a lot better had it started much sooner in the film. The animals involved with the film were all real throughout, there were no men in animal suits or CGI effects (obviously, the movie was released in 1977). This did add a little something to the movie, as the animals looked and acted just as you'd expect pissed off critters to look and act. To keep with the consistency of the film, however, the ending completely sucks. I won't spoil it here, but it's one of those endings that you can tell was tacked on just to abruptly wrap the film up at the ninety minute mark and to put the warm, cheery feeling into audience. The ending makes no sort of sense and ruined what could have been at least a slightly-below average movie. The last thing I'll say about that abortion of an ending is this: if you hate those movies that end with the lead character waking up and claiming "oh, it was all a dream!" before smiling at the camera, well, you'll think those were strokes of genius after seeing this one. It's just that bad.

This one isn't even really worth the three bucks of a rental fee. Take a pass on this one, even if you're a huge fan of those man versus nature films that seem to pop up every now and again. 3/10.
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