Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the sci-fi/horror film NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (1972) by director William F. Claxton. To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:
“Giant, mutant rabbits terrorize the south-west.”
Yep, that is an accurate description. Yes, Monty Python fans are likely to winder if this served as some inspiration for their killer bunny. And, finally, yes it does take itself far too seriously.
I mean, listen, a story like this can work well if the campiness is leaned into a bit. I am not saying to overplay it for cheese, but at least give the audience a little wink now and again to let them know that this is all in fun. Instead the focus on the science situation combined with the poor pacing makes the whole thing feel kind of boring. I was genuinely surprised that a movie about giant killer bunnies was actually dull.
One of the bigger issues with the pacing was that the rabbit action just took too long to get going. We spent a lot of the runtime suffering through the various subplots and uninteresting characters. Even after the first, ridiculous, kill things did not kick into action, but stayed at their slow pace. I wanted so much for them to pick up the tempo because there was a fun movie lurking somewhere in the concept that just never managed to materialize.
That being said, when things did finally pick up near the end, the effects were just as hokey as one would imagine. To show off how large the lepus were they, no joke, filmed regular rabbits on miniature sets. The cheapness of it was an amusing novelty and the final showdown was so fake looking that it was fairly entertaining. I might have been imagining things, but I am fairly certain they used the same footage multiple times to extend out some of the rabbit attack scenes. The only down side is that these more amusing scenes happened near the end of the feature so their campiness was short lived.
All in all, I wish I had kinder things to say as I really wanted to like this picture. If I had to give one recommendation it would be this, this is a notorious B-movie that finally looks decent thanks to the work done by Scream Factory in their Blu-ray transfer process. Fans of movies like Frogs (1972) or Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) will find this to be along the same lines.