Plot: A huge spike in the rabbit population has caused immense problems for some ranchers in the Southwest, as the animals multiply rapidly and have started to overrun valuable land. Since the numbers are so great, this can impact grazing lands, crops, and other ranch related activities. The popular solution seems to be poison, but that could do harm beyond the rabbits and cause more problems. Roy (Stuart Whitman) is called in and his research on genetics might provide a more human answer, to inject hormones into some rabbits and let that spread through the population. The hormone will block the breeding cycle and soon after, the population is back under control. But when one of the test subject rabbits escapes before the research is complete, it causes mutations that enlarges the rabbit to mammoth size and increases aggression. Now the hormone is spreading and a horde of giant, violent rabbits is on the prowl. Can they stop these rampaging rabbits before they overtake the world?
Entertainment Value: This movie features a showdown between giants rabbits and the National Guard. That should be enough. Part of a resurgence in the 70s of classic style creature features about giant animals, Night of the Lepus takes us inside one town’s battle to fend of hordes of massive rabbits. The story is what it is, with some kind of hormone turning the rabbits into huge, violent beasts. The tone is dead serious too, so this isn’t camp or a wink to the audience, its played straight and that’s why it works so well. The cast boasts some impressive names like Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun, Stuart Whitman, and of course, DeForest Kelley. The performances are serious and fine, given the nature of the material and all. The pace is slow at times, but ramps up often and there is ample rabbit mayhem here. Numerous scenes of the bunnies on the war path, so this is no tease, it delivers. The absurdity of the movie is likely to turn some away and the film does feel dated, but to me that’s part of the charm. So if you’re into monster movies, nature run amok, or old school special effects, check this one out.
No nakedness. A solid amount of blood, but of course it is non graphic and doesn’t hold much shock value. The rabbit attacks are off screen and we just see the aftermath, while other scenes have rabbits covered in blood or the red stuff drips in from somewhere. So yes there’s blood, but its not gore or over the top style violence. But what is over the top is how awesome the visual effects are, with rabbits running wild through some very detailed miniature sets. The illusion is obvious, but it works and to me, works better than the CGI effects in more recent monster movies. So fun, old school style effects that are a lot of fun to watch. The serious tone of the movie means some outlandish exchanges about the dangers of the rabbits, which are fun. A few big ticket lines, but mostly just overly serious lines that add some light entertainment. A dead serious movie about giant rabbits on the attack has to be a little crazy, but it plays it so straight, at least until the wild finale. So a couple points for the premise and the special effects, but this is not an insane, intentional camp level monster movie.
Overall Insanity: 2/10