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Night Of The Lepus (Blu-ray Review)

The 1970s brought us an interesting little horror genre, the Eco-horror film. This decade was littered with many person against nature films. Of course, the biggest one of them all was Jaws, but we were also subjected to things like the appropriately titled “Frogs” where, well you can guess the source of villainous evil in that one. Here, we may have the poster child for going to the craziest lengths with the concept; Night of the Lepus. Scream Factory has taken this cult classic gem and given it a restoration and are adding it to their library that has already brought forth some of these Eco-horror films including the aforementioned Frogs a few years ago. You’ll want to “hop” on over to Amazon with our link at the bottom and pre-order yourself a copy to have when it releases June 19th.

Film 

Arizona rancher Cole Hillman, dealing with massive rabbit overpopulation on his land, calls on a local college president, Elgin Clark, to help him. In order to humanely resolve the matter, Elgin brings in researchers Roy and Gerry Bennett, who inject the rabbits with chemicals. However, they fail to anticipate the consequences of their actions. A breed of giant mutant rabbits emerges and starts killing every human in sight.

If you’re a fan of midnight movies, MST3K, or just goofy eco-horror films and you’ve not seen Night of the Lepus; get on that. This film is quite a riot. Giant killer bunny rabbits even in concept is quite a hilarious thing on paper, but the fact it actually went before camera and with some known actors to boot is a marvel. And yes, this movie goes just about as you’d expect.

Here’s the rub on why something like Night of the Lepus works where a Sharknado doesn’t quite hit those spots, though it tries; authenticity. As dumb, as silly, as ridiculous as this premise is, everyone involved with this film plays it super straight. Prestige performances, well directed scene, a script that doesn’t wink ever. Janet Leigh, DeForest Kelley and everyone involved is taking this as seriously as they would Shakespeare. And the film works and delivers the giggles BECAUSE we believe all of this. Not once does any of them give any hint that “This is kinda stupid, isn’t it, folks?”. Nope, this is an A-caliber effort for barely a B-level film.

Get a group together, maybe some beverages, and have yourself an evening with Night of the Lepus. From the rabbit attack scenes (Slow motion rabbits ravaging models of houses), to some of the deliveries from the actors in the movie, its a real riot. Its a film you can’t just sit and not blurt out some sort of riff when you’re watching it. And that’s wherein the fun and joy lies in checking out this movie. Its not what it intended to be at all, but its legacy is probably not what they intended it to be either, but the fact that its considered a cult classic is maybe the best legacy it could have ever hoped for.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Night of the Lepus debuts on Blu-ray with a fresh new 2K scan of the original film elements. The image is a good, clean one and showcases some really nifty looks at the real detail of the film. The fluffy rabbit hairs are pretty discernible and the clothing showcases some really good texture. This is a really solid image and looks about to the the standard, if not a notch above, the Scream Factory releases of films from this same era of horror features.

Depth:  This image has some decent depth to it, nothing mind blowing. Movement is fluid and cinematic. What shows up best in terms of depth of field is the slow-mo rabbit sequences.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and carry a hair more of the grain when its darker. Details in night scenes and on dark surfaces is pretty decent. No crushing witnessed on this view.

Color Reproduction: Colors are decent with some good reds and blues. The very paint like blood is a good stand out during the post-murder scenes.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from the start to the finish of the film. Details are pretty good in close ups and decent in medium shots making out wrinkles and other skin textures.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: This is a solid mono tracks that really does the trick. There are even some moments that pack a bit more punch than one would expect. Overall, its crisp and clear, not sounding really dated at all.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and plenty discernible at all times in the film.

Extras 

Night of the Lepus features an additional image on the inside of the cover.

Audio Commentary

  • By Lee Gambin
  • By Russell Dyball

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:45) 

Television Spot (HD, :22)

Radio Spot (HD, :34)

Image Gallery (HD, 4:46)

Summary 

Night of the Lepus is a complete hoot and a subject is ripe for riffing (Check out the RiffTrax version of it). Scream Factory has it looking and sound the best it ever has and even has some commentaries (One where a guy is kinda pissed at its legacy as good bad movie, but oh well) to give you a few extra reasons to watch it. If you’re into midnight movies and MST3K, this is one to keep ahold of in your collection for sure.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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