By Steve D. Stones
If I didn't know any better, I could have easily mistaken “Night of The Lepus” for a Bert I. Gordon movie. Gordon, aka “Mr. B.I.G.,” is known for low-budget 1950s and ’60s science-fiction films that explore the theme of gigantism — giant grasshoppers, ants, mice, spiders, teenagers, and even a giant 50-foot man in a diaper, which is “The Amazing Colossal Man” (1957).
But in 1972’s “Night of The Lepus,” Rory Calhoun stars as Cole Hillman, a rancher whose property in Arizona is being invaded by a herd of rabbits. Hillman calls on the help of two zoologists — Roy and Gerry Bennett, played by Janet Leigh and Stuart Whitman — to control the rabbit population.
Roy and Gerry suggest controlling the population of rabbits through hormone injections instead of poisoning the herds. Their daughter Amanda switches one of the hormone-injected rabbits with another rabbit. The hormone-injected rabbit gets free and grows to a giant size. The rabbit's offspring also grows to a giant size and takes over the Hillman ranch.
Animal rights activists should steer clear of this film. Many scenes show the impact of gunfire on rabbits when it hits their bodies, even though it is fake. An opening sequence shows stock footage of ranchers with shotguns chasing after and rounding up herds of rabbits.
“Night of The Lepus” was filmed in Arizona with domesticated rabbits set against miniature sets and actors dressed in rabbit costumes. The film fails to depict rabbits as scary or threatening in any way. The furry critters come across as cute and cuddly, just like the Easter Bunny.