Night of the Lepus (1972)
Few movies rise to the level of broad disdain that Night of the Lepus achieves. Plan 9 from Outer Space, certainly. The Room. The title of “one of the worst movies ever made” isn’t easily earned. But Night of the Lepus puts in the work.
Arizona rancher Cole Hillman (Rory Calhoun), dealing with massive rabbit overpopulation on his land, calls on a local college president, Elgin Clark (DeForest Kelley of Star Trek fame), to help him. Not wanting to harm the local ecosystem, he enlists some research assistants (Psycho’s Janet Leigh and Stuart Whitman) in an attempt to disrupt their reproduction with injections of hormones and genetically modified blood. Seems logical! But no, these freak bunnies grow to colossal size and turn carnivorous.
Turns out it’s really hard to make a rabbit look scary, no matter how slow you film them or how phosphorescent you make their eyes. Trailers conspicuously avoided both showing the rabbits and saying the word (lepus is Latin for rabbit, a fact viewers are frequently reminded of). It didn’t help. Night of the Lepus immediately became the most dunked-on movie of its time, And now it’s your turn to see the movie Slant Magazine called “the filmic equivalent of rabbit pellets” and somebody on Google named Emoji Marbles called “worse than Jaws apparently.”
CLICK HERE for the rest of the 2023 “A Nightmare on Franklin Street” series lineup