“Calm down Jack, he’s gone. The rabbit’s gone.”
A Rancher, Cole Hillman (Rory Calhoun) is being troubled with a plague of rabbits. It seems a population explosion has resulted in thousands of rabbits eating his crops. The president of the local college Elgin Clark (DeForest Kelley) is called in to see if he can help. Clark asks for help from Roy (Stuart Whitman) and Gerry Bennett (Janet Leigh) so that Hillman doesn’t have to use poison.
Roy and Gerry are scientists. They suggest using hormones to interrupt the rabbits breeding cycle. They set up experiments on some rabbits that the rancher caught. They inject one rabbit with a serum that they think will cause birth defects. Their daughter Amanda (Melanie Fullerton) loves that particular rabbit and doesn’t want any more experiments done on it so she switches the injected rabbit with one in the control group. Thinking that the injected rabbit is a control specimen they give it to Amanda as a pet. The rabbit escapes into the wild.
Cole and the Bennetts start finding unusual animal tracks. Cole’s son Jackie (Chris Morrell) and Amanda venture into a mine that is the home of Jackie’s friend Billy but they can’t find him. Amanda goes deeper into the cave and finds a giant rabbit with blood on it’s face. She runs in terror.
Dead bodies start popping up all over. They figure out that it is the rabbits that are doing the mutilations and that they are living in the mine. The plan is to blow up the mine and with it the rabbits. Except it doesn’t work. It just pisses off the bunnies. And they are out for blood.
“The Night of the Lepus” was released in 1972 and was directed by William F. Claxton. It stars Janet Leigh, Stuart Whitman, Rory Calhoun and Deforest Kelley. Four veteran actors that apparently really needed something to do.
The movie starts out with a mini documentary on rabbit round-ups and about how much of a menace normal size rabbits are.
Just about everything has been super sized for the sake of horror. Everything from spiders to tomatoes. I have a list. So it just seems natural that bunnies should be on the list… Or should they? Anyway, I suppose if Monty Python can have a killer rabbit, then they could be anywhere. I’m just not sure how you explain to the National Guard that there are killer bunnies on the loose and you need some big bad guys with guns to stop them.
Special effects included regular size rabbits running around miniature sets as well as a guy in a rabbit suit. The producers spent $900,000 on this schmaltz. There can’t be any way that they would know it would gross over $3,700,000. Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste. Just chalk this one up to a guilty pleasure.