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Night of the Lepus (1972) Blu-ray Review

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Night of the Lepus (2018) - Blu-ray Review

5 beersRabbits.  They aren’t as cute as they seem.  Ask any Australian and they will tell you the truth: underground mutton.  In Night of the Lepus, now on blu-ray thanks to the horror hooligans over at Scream Factory, these furry critters grow and grow and grow and then they ATTACK!  It is an unforgettable bloodbath, frightening many a teenager when it was originally released in 1972 and making a lot more laugh their asses off. 

The real question is can YOU keep it together as these mad hippity-hoppers terrorize the American southwest? Night of the Lepus is one of those rare drive-in B-movies that, draped as a western and shot in a similar style thanks to director William F. Claxton's understanding of the shoot ‘em up genre, actually appeals to lots of different audiences.

"it must be stated that most of this movie falls into the so bad it's good side of the aisle.  Truly.  You will laugh more than you will scream."


I mean, how exactly do you make cute bunnies terrifying?  Smear ketchup on their faces! Get humans to wear rabbit masks for close-ups and attack scenes. Shoot surroundings in miniatures so it looks like giant-sized rabbits are on the prowl.  Making rabbits look fierce and intimidating can be done; it just takes a HUGE imagination.

And this rabbit uprising is all because of science.  Rory Calhoun, star of many B-movie westerns, plays Cole Hillman, a rancher who has one hell of a rabbit problem to deal with on his land.  They ran off the coyotes years ago.  As a result, the damn balls of hopping fur have torn up his fields and, after he has to unexpectedly shoot his horse after it breaks its leg due to their endless burrowing, he’s not going to put up with it any longer.

Leave it to Star Trek’s DeForest Kelley, playing Elgin Clark, a local college president, to come up with a solution.  Hillman doesn’t want to use chemicals to kill the rabbits. Immediately, Clark comes up with the idea of contacting a couple of local researchers looking at controlling the local population of bats.  Stuart Whitman as Roy Bennett and Janet Leigh as Gerry, his wife, are more than ready to help out. Bats are boring anyway. 

But their idea of injecting hormones into the rabbits (in order to slow down their population boom) backfires when their daughter, To Rome with Love’s Melanie Fullerton as Amanda, allows one of the injected to get away. Uh-oh Spaghetti-o's! Now these mutated muthas get their freak on with a frenzy that nature is unprepared for as they grow much bigger than anyone ever guessed.  Suddenly, entire towns (miniatures) are being invaded by giant-sized bunnies.

Holy scrambled eggs, Batman! The freaky 1983 Cadbury Egg Bunny commercial has got nothing on these fluffy bastards. 

With a couple of scenes that STILL effectively scare up some solid responses, Night of the Lepus is quite the little engine that could.  Seriously.  We get our first taste of the truly bizarre thanks to Amanda as she sees one of the rabbits drag an unconscious man away.  She goes into hysterics, as a result.  I would, too, because the scene, clouded in darkness, is truly frightening.  It’s not every day a child witnesses a scene as disturbing as that.

Night of the Lepus (2018) - Blu-ray Review

However, it must be stated that most of this movie falls into the so bad it's good side of the aisle.  Truly.  You will laugh more than you will scream.  That's how much fun this B-movie is in its wooden treatment of big, scary bunnies.

And that’s followed by the great rabbit ambush of 1973 as one delivery driver, stopping his vehicle to check on the refrigerated contents in the back, gets the surprise of a lifetime once the dark shadows in the distance make their faces (AND THEIR TEETH) known to him.  Holy Hell!. Get back in the truck, dude!  When animals attack INDEED! 

They are furry, cute and fierce and, thanks to Scream Factory’s brand new 2K scan from the interpositive, these killer rabbits are ready for their HD close-up. Just don’t sit too close to the screen, watching bunnies get electrocuted stings a bit. 

With really cheesy chroma key effects and forced perspective in tow, can you survive the Night of the Lepus?

Night of the Lepus (2018) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
88 mins
Director
: William F. Claxton
Writer:
Don Holliday, Gene R. Kearney
Cast:
Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun
Genre
: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline:
How many eyes does horror have? How many times will terror strike?
Memorable Movie Quote: "Rabbits aren't your bag Roy."
Theatrical Distributor:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Official Site: www.shoutfactory.com/product/night-of-the-lepus?product_id=6743
Release Date:
October 4, 1972
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 19, 2018
Synopsis: A hormone intended to alter the breeding cycle of rabbits overrunning Arizona ranchlands instead turns them into flesh-eating, 150-pound monsters in Night of the Lepus! Stuart Whitman (Eaten Alive), Janet Leigh (Psycho), Rory Calhoun (Motel Hell) and DeForest Kelley (Star Trek) are among the intrepid humans facing off against the behemoth bunnies, using guns, flames, dynamite and anything else in their grasp to battle their oversized, hungry tormentors.

Night of the Lepus (2018) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- June 19, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Language
: English
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The brand new 1.85:1 HD master is detailed and looks better than ever. Some shots, due to the era of the day, are fuzzier than others but the image is reasonably well defined with crisp contrasts and solid textures. Colors are solid, with reds being a standout. Blacks are, too. Surprisingly, there's enough fine detail on display to make this seem revelatory. The era-ready color palette looks terrific, too.  Forgive this release for its bad effects and its mono soundtrack, though.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are two commentaries.  One is from author Lee Gambin (Massacred By Mother Nature: Exploring The Natural Horror Film) and the other is from Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball, who waxes poetic in this NEW commentary.  It is fun and fresh.  Both are definitely worth checking out.

Special Features:

Basic stuff.  No one, except for Mr. Dyball, has anything to add about this cult classic. Boo.

  • TV Spot
  • Still Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Night of the Lepus (2018) - Blu-ray Review

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