Edited to Add: It figures my 100th post would be about this damnable movie. Somewhere, my dad is laughing at me…in good fun, of course.
There’s a story with this one.
Years ago, when we were all smaller and shorter, my family always watched movies together. Usually my parents picked the movies, and every so often, my dad would insist we watch a certain movie, knowing if he didn’t insist, we’d never watch it.
Such is the case with Night of the Lepus. We were eating dinner together, and my dad told us, “There’s this wonderful movie on tonight, and we’re going to watch it. Together. And it’s called Night of the Lepus.”
My sisters and I probably stared rather blankly at my dad. As a group, we began to speculate what a lepus was. Was it a shark? A monster? A dinosaur? Cue a young me: “Knowing Daddy, it’s probably about chipmunks or something.”
Well, I wasn’t far off.
The movie we watched, incidentally, is not this one. The Internets claim (wrongly, I think) that this is the only version of Night of the Lepus. It’s not. We watched this one, which is a ’70’s facsimile of the original..only worse (if that was even humanly possible).
But if you’re still wondering, dearests, what in the world a lepus is…look no further:
That’s right. Night of the Lepus is about KILLER RABBITS.
I think when we first realized what a lepus was, my father nearly had a full scale revolt on his hands. We stayed, though, and we watched, and to this day when my father suggests watching a movie of dubious character, we ask, “Is this like the time we had to watch Night of the Lepus?” Dad, meanwhile, sat back and I’m sure internally laughed at us all the way through the movie.
In a small town in Arizona, rabbits are eating ranchers out of house and home. So, some local dude (played by DeForrest Kelley) goes to the local university and digs up some scientists who are supposed to be pioneering some sort of research that kills off only one kind of animal, instead of poisoning everything in general. The ranchers don’t want to kill everything, you see, only those cute little cuddly bunny rabbits.
There’s one problem, though: Our intrepid scientists? Work with bats.
Somehow, DeForrest Kelley convinces them to drop their uber-important research to apply the same principles to the rabbits. And, as you can see, our intrepid scientists are married with a twee little kid.
The intrepid scientists return to the lab and inject the rabbits with some sort of super serum that’s supposed to keep them from breeding. However, some children, and I’m not naming names here, do not understand the greater goal of science and are instead upset that their favowitest bunny wabbit has been injected with Super Serum. So what does Little Kid do?
She performs the whole “Gee, Mom and Dad aren’t looking so I’ll do the whole genetically mutated rabbit switcheroo” when Intrepid Scientists have their back turned. Then, she begs Mommy to please let her have a bunny rabbit, so Mommy lets her have one of the “control group”. Little does Mommy know…
And as they go home, Little Girl stupidly lets the rabbit escape. Oops.
That’s okay, though, because in the span of thirty seconds, Little Girl decides to go play with her ranching friend at the safest place in the world: The Old Abandoned Mineshaft Where That Crazy Hobo Lives.
Little Girl’s rancher friend is upset that he can’t find the hobo, so he directs her to go into the mineshaft all by her lonesome. And what does she find?
ENORMOUS, BLOODY MUTATED BUNNY RABBITS. AIEEEEEEE! (Thirty seconds after she let hers loose. WTF?)
Little Girl, between this and seeing the body of Crazy Old Hobo, goes all shock-like and has to be carried to her parents, who are decidedly thinking, “What in the hell? WHAT COULD BE IN THAT MINESHAFT?”
The rabbits are like, “Score! We’re scary! Let’s rampage and do some…rampaging!”
First, they knock off a produce truck and kill this poor man — who didn’t even have time to properly wax the ends of his mustache.
As you can see, this poor dummy has been unnecessarily mutilated and then had Heinz 57 vomited all over it.
By now, the rabbits are like, “Double score! We leveled up! We’ve gone from scaring people to being homicidal bunny MANIACS!” What better way to move on from killing a produce truck driver and eating his deliveries than by massacring a perfectly innocent family at a rest stop?
The Ketchup Vomiting Monster strikes again.
By now, the Intrepid Scientists and DeForrest Kelley have figured out something amiss is going on – and maybe, just maybe – it might have something to do with the rabbits and the Super Serum. So they consult a random, wheelchair bound scientist who never pops up again for some advice.
Mr. Scientist blathers on uselessly for a few minutes until it’s decided that, well, those pesky rabbits have to be destroyed.
Yeah, they have to be destroyed alright – destroyed by blowing ’em up! Whoo!
They carefully rig Old Abandoned Mineshaft and then Male Intrepid Scientist and a rancher go in for a closer look. Big mistake, as then they’re running away from enormous bunnies while Female Intrepid Scientist must fend off a guy in a horrible ghillie suit with what appears to be a spray painted Easter Bunny head. I mean, she must fend off a terrible, vicious lepus of doom…my bad.
DeForrest Kelly mainly stands on top of Old Abandoned Mine doing jackshit and looking vaguely concerned.
Then they blow it up, but surprise! That didn’t get all of the killer bunnies. Er…not good.
So, the bunnies are understandably pissed. They’re probably thinking, “Hey, man, we got a right to live too! What’s up with THAT?” And then they decide to go on a killing spree, much like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, but where they have actual problems instead of getting upset over breakfast not being served after 11 a.m.
First stop: The ranch!
This woman comes out on the porch and then, aside from a few shots in the movie, is never seen nor heard from again. The hell? I suppose she was supposed to just stand there and look ominously serious. And a bit judge-y.
Rancher and Co. hide in the storm cellar while the bunnies rampage and pillage. Unfortunately, as you can see, one was killed. By the Rancher. In the storm cellar. With the shotgun.
And the rabbits make their way into town!
Somewhere along the way, Intrepid Scientists and DeForrest Kelly decided that yes, people did need to know about these enormous carnivorous rabbits, and that someone needed to be informed. So they called the National Guard, after looking decidedly heavy about it.
The National Guard shows up at the drive-in, where the entire town is MAGICALLY located and informs the residents: “Warning, evacuate. Killer rabbits are on their way into town”. If you think I’m kidding, I’m actually…really…not.
Meanwhile, Male Intrepid Scientist has instructed Little Kid and Female Intrepid Scientist to get the hell out of Dodge for safety’s sake, but of course, they can’t even do THAT right, so they wind up stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken down camper. And the rabbits? The rabbits are coming!
What is Janet Leigh’s brilliant plan?
Lock stupid Little Kid in the camper and fearfully brandish FLARES at the rabbits.
But that’s okay, because Daddy shows up soon, with his tricked out helicopter to save the day – yay!
By now, there’s like, thousands of deadly killer rabbits heading their way, so they’ve hatched an ingenious plan to kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out. They decide to lure the eeeevil rabbits on to an electrified train track with a wall of the townspeople’s cars serving as a barricade, so thus:
Kentucky Fried Rabbits. Yum!
Thus, the scientists kill their awful creations (see what happens, Scientists, when you muck with things you shouldn’t?! HMM?!), the Little Girl has learned no discernable lesson…
DeForrest Kelley and Janet Leigh still have some disgustingly awful clothing. Janet Leigh’s hair is still not moving…
But that’s okay, because ding dong, the rabbits are dead, so let’s go frolicking through the fields! Hurray, the bunny menace is over!
Night of the Lepus is an awful movie. The initial version which doesn’t exist, according to the Internet, was actually shockingly better than this in a far campier way. This is an overly serious piece of crap, one which I only look back fondly on thanks to my dad essentially pulling a prank on my sisters and me.
In fact, it’s so bad, I’m shocked – utterly shocked – that it was never MST3Ked. Really, it’s that self-important and disgustingly bad.
Killer rabbits? For real?
(This was made in the ’70’s, so undoubtedly someone involved would blame this on Quaaludes, I imagine. At least that’s the only explanation that pops into my mind.)