Horror Movie Review: Night of the Lepus (1972)

Famous, but for all the wrong reasons, Night of the Lepus (also known as Rabbits) comes from director William F. Claxton and is based on Russell Braddon’s 1964 science fiction novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit.

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The story surrounds an infestation of rabbits that has grown in numbers following the eradication of their predator, the coyote. The rabbits are causing massive problems for local farmers and ranchers, and if they’re going to get rid of them, they’re going to have to do something extreme.

Before that though, it is suggested by college president Elgin Clark (DeForest Kelley) that the ranchers speak to researchers Roy (Stuart Whitman) and Gerry Bennett (Janet Leigh) to see if they can come up with a safer solution to the problem.

Which Roy does, suggesting they inject some of the rabbits with hormones which will disrupt their breeding cycle and cut their numbers down. However, their daughter Amanda (Melanie Fullerton) loves the rabbit they test on so she swaps it out and then lets it get away. This rabbit ends up breeding with the other ones creating enormous blood-thirsty beasts that threaten all.

It should be as silly as it sounds but in a baffling turn of events, Night of the Lepus takes itself so seriously, it’s kind of embarrassing. There are great actors in this and even they struggle to make this story and its dialogue sound anything but cringe-inducing.

That’s not what anyone remembers about Night of the Lepus though, no. What everyone remembers are the giant rabbits and how much the movie fails to make them scary. The effects in this movie are laughably bad. Done by using actual rabbits filmed amongst miniature models and actors in costumes for attack scenes.

Not once will you feel any semblance of threat or horror from these effects and they are not hidden or under-used. Night of the Lepus wants you to be terrified by its monstrous bunnies but you’ll be lucky if you keep a straight face throughout.

Now, that might make this a bit appealing to watch. However, this is your final warning, Night of the Lepus is exceptionally dull. Perhaps with a bit more a comedic approach, it could have been passable, but that is not what we get here.


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Night of the Lepus (1972)
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