Hard to believe this seething middle-aged ball of cinécism (I’ve licensed the word) was once 10 years old, but I was.
Anyways, when I was just 10 and hadn’t discovered the painjoyment (I’ve licensed that word too) of really bad films yet, I went to see a double-feature at my local theatre and saw a trailer that genuinely scared my pudgy little ass.
It was 30 years later that I caught the trailer again on the DVD of the film. I had actually seen the film in the meantime. I cherished the tape I had made off cable as it is one of the goofiest, unconvincing monster movies of all time. Somehow, I never made the connection that craptastic movie and the trailer that scared me so much until I saw it again. I must admit I had a good laugh over it.
That day, I realized more than ever the full power of a trailer. It had succeeded in making me afraid to see a film where, in reality, you just want to pick up the “monsters” and hug them and feed them and call them George.
Yes, that’s right. The Lepus turned out to be bigass bunnies. Somehow, someone thought that after Hitchcock’s The Birds and all manners of ecological horrors that followed in the next decade, rabbits would make a terrifying menace provided they didn’t tell people in advance and create a prejudice. And so the title of the original novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit was dropped in favour of the scientific (latin) name for rabbit: lepus.
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn whoever came up with that semantic shift is also the person behind the terms “economic downturn” or “friendly fire”.
You can almost hear the cast’s stomachs grumble. Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoon and DeForest Kelley all do their best to retain straight faces as they wait to be fed. They must’ve thought “No one’s going to see this pile of pellets so I might as well enjoy the catering, raid the craft table, grab the money and run.”
Words fail me. You’ll just have to see for yourself. Someone on YouTube has compiled the best moments of the film. If you are inclined to use words like “realism” or “logical”, I must warn you that the level of pain you will feel is likely to be very high. If, however, you are a true cinémasochist prepare yourself to call a physician in four hours about an erection which won’t subside – even if you are female.
The line “Attention! A herd of killer rabbits is coming this way.” gets a lot of attention. But my fave is when Janet Leigh reassures a bunny attack victim by telling him “It’s okay. The rabbit’s gone now”.
If you’re really brave, enough to face the terror of bunnies, , here it is:
But do yourself a favor and track down the splendid widescreen DVD of this movie by Warner Home Video.
For even greater enjoyment, slap this puppy into the DVD player when all your guests are drunk.
Pain Level: 8/10
Quality of Pain: Gimme more! More, I tell you! Moooore!
Historical note: a couple of years later, some obscure british comedy troupe ripped off the whole killer bunny idea. The result was a lot scarier but not quite as funny as Night of the Lepus.