NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (1972). Director: William F. Claxton.
"Attention! Attention! There is a herd of killer rabbits heading this way!"
Roy (Stuart Whitman) and Gerry Bennett (Janet Leigh) are scientists who come to Arizona to deal with an explosion in the rabbit population and the dangers this represents to the ecosystem. Trying to curb the rabbits', ahem, appetites, their experiments only result in rabbits that are much larger and astonishingly ferocious. Supposedly remaining vegetarians, they nonetheless go around attacking people, leaving mutilated corpses in their wake. Now, it would have been one thing if the special effects department had come up with some fearsomely mutated rodents with large fangs and grotesque appearances, but all they did was use real cute bunny rabbits stuffed into miniature sets and interacting with people via process shots. Some of these sequences aren't badly done, but the sound effects are what make the cuddly bunnies seem so horrible. The best scene is the climax when Leigh tries to keep the surrounding rabbits away from her and her little daughter after their camper gets a flat tire at night. Rory Calhoun plays a rancher and DeForest Kelley, almost fresh from Star Trek, is a friend of the Bennetts. Played completely straight, the movie is completely absurd but somehow amusing and entertaining, if strictly for monster movie devotees.
Verdict: Stupid, but a lot of fun in spite of it. **1/2.