Night of the Lepus (1972) (part 8 of 10)
Cole surveys the damage to his ranch, and asks Red Shirt #2 (whose name is Frank) if he found Jud. “Yeah,” Frank says. “I found him. What was left of him.” Okay, but other than that, how’s he doing?
Cole tells him the horses won’t be back any time soon, and since they don’t have telephone service at the moment, Cole will have to hitchhike into town to alert the authorities. Let’s see… the stampeding rabbits scare off all the horses, and cause a guy driving the only motor vehicle on the property to crash into the only telephone pole on the property? It would appear the rabbits are well versed in horror movie plot mechanics.
Meanwhile, Roy is saying farewell to Amanda and Gerry as they head of to “the lodge” to avoid all those scary newspaper men. But let’s face it, Amanda is the real menace to society in this movie. For those not keeping count, the death toll caused by her little bunny switcheroo now stands at eight.
Mother and daughter hop into a camper and take off. Just as they’re pulling out, Elgin drives up to get Roy so they can both go to the airport. Elgin expositories that Sheriff Cody will be meeting them there, since he just got back from the “crime lab in Phoenix”. Wait, he had to go all the way to Phoenix to listen to theories involving vampires and saber-toothed tigers? If I were Cody, I’d be majorly pissed.
When we cut to the airport, I’m immediately stunned by the majesty of it all. I count at least two or three whole planes! Sheriff Cody drives up, just as Roy and Elgin climb out of a helicopter.
“Sheriff, we have something horrible to tell you,” Roy says, without deviating from his usual deadpan delivery. But Sheriff Cody is way ahead of them, because it appears the crime lab told him the truck driver and Captain Billy were killed by rabbits. Cody even knows how big the rabbits’ teeth are. And he actually does call the guy “Captain Billy”, almost like the bunnies mauled the host of some kiddy TV show.
At this, all three men climb into the helicopter and take off.
Meanwhile, Cole Hillman is wandering down a road, apparently going for a little stroll through the opening credits of Highway to Heaven. He tries unsuccessfully to flag down a passing car, and then realizing that perhaps the rifle in his hand isn’t helping matters, tosses it away.
Cut to inside the car that Cole couldn’t flag down, where we meet a family of four. The wife asks the husband if they should stop for the hitchhiker. Given the speed they’re going, they’re probably half a mile down the road by now, so isn’t this a moot point? Regardless, the husband is adamant.
Wow. Now that’s the way to lay down the law. He is absolutely and positively putting his foot down that they are not going to pick up any gun-toting hitchhikers! Especially not after the last time!
The kids in the back complain they’re thirsty, so Susan asks if they can stop “at that little town up there”. The place that they pull up to, coincidentally enough, happens to be Mildred’s general store. The husband sees all the shattered windows and declares it to be “a ghost town”. They then drive off, never to be seen or heard from again in this movie. Well, that was an extremely necessary scene.
Cut to Gerry and Amanda driving along on their way to the lodge. Amanda AKA the demon seed asks how much farther it is. Gerry tells her that the “turnoff” is just up ahead, and the “turnoff” appears to be an unpaved dirt road. Suddenly, the car stops, and Gerry lets out a grunt.
She says, “I think I scraped the bottom of the car! Daddy wouldn’t like that!” Oh, but you know what Daddy likes, don’t you, Gerry? She tries to back up, but it appears the truck is stuck in a rut. She floors it, but the wheels just spin. And I don’t know how exactly, but I’m convinced the bunnies are behind this, somehow.
While this is going on, Cole finally arrives on foot at Mildred’s general store. He wanders up to the front window to the sounds of squealing and growling, and peers inside and sees a pair of bloody legs that probably belong to Mildred.
Then he turns his head all of ten degrees to his left, and suddenly sees the place is packed wall to wall with giant bunnies. Very perceptive, that Cole.
He slowly backs away, probably just a tad bit sorry he tossed his gun away out on the highway. He walks around back and sees another pair of bloody legs sticking out from under a truck. And I honestly have no idea who this guy is, but it seems he was attempting to use the “shimmy under a parked car” defensive maneuver to escape from the rabbits.
Meanwhile, there’s a nice, lengthy shot of the helicopter carrying Roy, Elgin, and Sheriff Cody as they land near the mineshaft they blew up the day before. They spot a big rabbit hole, and in a tremendous deductive leap, Roy guesses that maybe some rabbits survived and got out. Well, you’ve sure earned your paycheck today, professor.
I guess Elgin really got a kick out of dropping that rock down the big bunny hole yesterday, because he does it again now. This time, however, we only hear it land with a thump, unaccompanied by squealing or growling. “They’ve gone!” Elgin yells, to the surprise of no one.
Roy says that the sun will set at 5:30, which gives them “a couple of hours to find them before they start moving again!” Wait, how does he know the rabbits are nocturnal now and only move at night? Yeah, yeah, I know: Movie Scientist.
Next, Cole is on the highway, again trying to flag down a car. But this time, the car has no real choice but to stop, since Cole is standing right in the middle of the road. And this car randomly turns out to be driven by a priest [?], and Cole tells him that something terrible has happened.
Cole refuses to elaborate any further, because, in his words, “You’d think I’d been drinking!” The priest decides this is all he needs to hear, and tells Cole to hop in. However, there’s no word on whether the priest said he would be picking up strangers back in Denver, and is now sticking to it.
Cut to another nice long shot of the helicopter carrying Sheriff Cody and the boys. It appears they’ve come back to the airport [?]. So, wait, they took a helicopter all the way out to the mine, just so they could watch Elgin drop a rock down a bunny hole, and then come right back? That hardly seems like a good use of the daylight they have left. Still, it kills a lot of the screen time this movie has left.
As they land, a deputy pulls up, and delivers the news that the governor has decided to let Sheriff Cody “use the National Guard any way you have to!”
Cut to the police station, where the men try to figure out where the rabbits would be holed up for the day. Okay, can someone explain to me why Roy and Elgin are even here, much less strategizing with the sheriff? If anything, they’re partly responsible for this disaster, so you think they’d be sent home and kept under close watch so as not to accidentally cause any more horrific deaths.
Just then, Cole Hillman calls in. He tells the sheriff about the giant bunny rabbit attack at his ranch last night, and about all the various dead bodies he’s come across in the aftermath. Sheriff Cody tells Cole to stay put, and he’ll send a car out to pick him up. End phone call. Mind you, Cole never even said where he was, so that was just a tad bizarre.
Sheriff Cody tells the others that Cole is in a small town called Galanos, which he never actually said. Then he tells them that the rabbits are holed up in a nearby building, which is also something Cole never said. A guy with an MP armband appears (my best guess is he’s supposed to be a National Guardsman) and tells the newly clairvoyant sheriff that they “can hit the whole town with rockets!” Wow, I never knew the National Guard had access to “rockets”, but given their homicidal tendencies at the time, I guess this isn’t too surprising.
Sheriff Cody, however, isn’t so gleeful about the prospect of mass destruction. He’s concerned about any survivors that might potentially still be in Galanos. Damn hippie.
In response, Roy suggests they evacuate the town. Why is he here, again? The sheriff initially resists the idea, saying what they really need is a fence: “Ten miles long, and twenty feet high!” When said fence doesn’t magically appear, Sheriff Cody orders the town evacuated. But we only know this because we hear him yell, “Let’s evacuate the town!” in a line that was clearly added in post.