Overrun and On the Run – Night of the Lepus (1972)

One would not necessarily think that giant fluffy bunny rabbits would be something to be scared of but then that person would be completely wrong as evidenced by this very film. It is not just giant rabbits either but hungry rabbits, starved due to a lack of food and when there are hundreds of the creatures milling about, that food source, what little there is, becomes even more scarce. So it is that the cast of Night of the Lepus released in 1972 has their hands full with a threat they never expected to face.

For those looking for something a little different in a horror film, this picture will give them just that though the giant creature genre itself would not exactly be something new at the time of this movie’s release. Ants, flies, spiders, men, birds and so forth have all appeared on the big screen as just that – quite big, enormous in some cases and so it was probably only a matter of time before rabbits got the same treatment. The special effects which were most likely simple camera trickery more than anything else were done well and some of those rabbits would end up looking truly bloodthirsty. There were times when it obviously looked a little silly, how could it not and yet there were moments where if this particular situation were to actually happen, one can see it being truly terrifying.

Starring in this disaster-piece would be many familiar names like Rory Calhoun, Stuart Whitman and Paul Fix, none of them overly big at this point except for Janet Leigh perhaps or maybe DeForest Kelley, most famously known for his role as Dr. McCoy on Star Trek. It is by all accounts a very solid cast and they would do a good job of making the threat they faced a scary one. Whitman took the lead and ran with it, playing the hero and seeming like one even if it was a little more unconventional given what they would face. If there was one cast member that was slightly wasted though, it was Leigh whose character could have been played by anyone, her talents definitely not on full display, though what actor did not take a role simply to pay the bills.

Altogether, this was ultimately a silly picture but it was a lot of fun, especially given that the monsters of the film were not what anyone would have expected in the slightest. Following in the footsteps of classics like Them!, Tarantula, The Black Scorpion and more, Night of the Lepus was by no means anywhere near as good and yet, as ridiculous a premise as it had, it ended up being a good time and worth a look for anyone that loves seeing the diminutive made large.

3 out of 5

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