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“Rabbits aren’t your bag, Roy.” It’s pretty safe to say rabbits aren’t anyone’s bag in Night of the Lepus, especially the pseudo-savage, overgrown, mutant versions in this film. The Black Saint was unable to join us for this episode and Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issues of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions. Sometimes, you just can’t do everything you want to do, can you, guys? In the interim, your regular host, Jeff Mohr, is joined by the capable and knowledgeable Bill Mulligan, film director, and Chad Hunt, comic book artist/writer and co-host of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast. Join them as they weave their way through the killer rabbits of Night of the Lepus.
Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 59 — Night of the Lepus (1972)
Night of the Lepus is director William F. Claxton’s only entry in the horror film. Most of his experience is in the western genre, so it’s no surprise that most of the cast are frequent performers in westerns. Highly recognizable leads and supporting cast are played by Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun, Stuart Whitman, DeForest Kelley, and Paul Fix, who all give it the old college try, but they don’t have much with which to work.
The screenplay is written by Don Holliday and Gene R. Kearney and is based on The Year of the Angry Rabbit (1964), an Australian, comic/horror/science fiction novel by Russell Braddon. Though the plot is outrageous, the novel is appreciated for its comic shadings. In Night of the Lepus, however, the filmmakers forsake any attempt at humor and go straight for outright horror, a fatal mistake. Unfortunately, no matter how ominous the script or intense the acting, the special effects are not up to the task of inciting horror from domestic rabbits performing on miniature sets.
Despite its flaws, Night of the Lepus still holds a special place in the hearts of the members of your faithful Grue Crew. Jeff Mohr has on an ongoing bromance with Rory Calhoun. Though he agrees it is a terrible film, Bill Mulligan professes a love for many of the images in Night of the Lepus and uses them in his party videos. Now there’s a party we’d love to attend! Chad Hunt, well, Chad Hunt can’t figure out why, but when he’s channel surfing and runs across Night of the Lepus, he can’t keep from pausing to watch the proverbial trainwreck.
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