Night of the Lepus (1972)

night of the lepus poster 1972 movie
2.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 2/10

So bad it is good, decent actors

Everything...rabbits just aren't threatening

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Night of the Lepus

Studio:  Metro-Goldwyn Meyer

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  October 4, 1972

MPAA Rating:  PG


The rabbits are coming…are you ready?

A farmer named Cole Hillman (Rory Calhoun) finds rabbits are ruining his land.  When the local college president Elgin Clark (DeForest Kelley) suggests Cole try to eliminate the rabbit without hurting the environment, Cole calls in a researcher husband and wife team named Roy (Stuart Whitman) and Gerry (Janet Leigh) who try to find a way for the rabbits to be born sterile.  Unfortunately, their daughter Amanda (Melanie Fullerton) switches out one of the experimental rabbits with a healthy one, and the experiment rabbit is re-released with disastrous consequences.  The rabbits mate and grow to immense size, and now the rabbits are angry and killing whatever gets in their way.

Directed by William F. Claxton, Night of the Lepus was based on the Australian 1964 science fiction novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit by Russell Braddon.  It featured DeForest Kelley’s last “non-Star Trek” role in a feature film.  It was universally panned, but has since gained cult status for its campiness.


Rabbits…they don’t like people.

Night of the Lepus is an awful movie.  It is dull and boring, but it is also quite funny.  The rabbits run rampant on miniaturized sets and it quickly switches to a guy in a rabbit suit for the actual kill.  Other shots are done with blue screens mixed with actors (and some actually look ok), but that approach must have been much harder since there are few seen in the movie.

The movie follows the classic “animal attack” trend of films like The Birds that were popular at the time.  The sci-fi novel was allegedly a very popular novel and helped revitalize Australian science-fiction.  If the novel was smart, this movie took all the smartness from it.  It is hard to make rabbit threatening.  The movie’s rabbits were played down (they don’t even really appear on the poster), and it was allegedly changed from just Rabbits to Night of the Lepus to try to keep the audience from knowing giant rabbits are the subject of fear.


Night of the Lepus…the Shocking Conclusion!!!

The cast is somewhat respectable.  It does crack me up to see Janet Leigh stuck in this clunker.  Allegedly, she stated that she only took the role because it shot near her home and she didn’t want to be away from her family.  I wonder if she showed it to Alfred Hitchcock.

Night of the Lepus is a camp classic.  If you are a fan of movies so bad that they are good, check it out.  I wish the movie was just a bit funnier.  It gets a bit dull at points, and the makers had to know that it wasn’t going to play seriously.  I wish they had committed to goofiness and the rabbits would have played great.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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