I have a long-standing interest in rabbits. One of my early triumphs in the media world was as a teenager when I won a television game show after delivering a devastatingly effective lecture on the agricultural efficiency of rabbit-rearing. Did you know that your common-or-garden bunny is the most efficient converter of fodder to meat of all domesticated animals? Most of my astonished and adoring audience didn’t either.
One evening some years previously I had been left at home alone with the television. We weren’t allowed to watch much tv as children and never went to the cinema so (as a preemptive defence for the sad revelation which is to follow) I was not versed in deconstructing the genre. Needless to say my backside was cemented to the sofa the moment the door closed behind the exiting authorities and the television was on full blast.
As the evening wore on the house became filled with darkness, only the characteristic wavering blue light of the screen providing any illumination. Perhaps I was already uneasy. Perhaps the isolation of the house, out in the countryside, the quavering lament of the hooting of the owls… [oh for goodness sake just get to the point and stop trying to make excuses]
Ok. A film started. It was called Night of the Lepus (“they were born that tragic moment when science made its great mistake… now from behind the shroud of night they come, a scuttling, shambling horde of creatures destroying all in their path“) and frankly, I was terrified. So terrified that it took a great deal of effort to pull myself out of the hypnotic paralysis of fear, motionless as I was like a small lagomorph in the lights of an oncoming pantechnicon [surely you mean a rabbit] [no I don’t mean rabbit, I chose the words small lagomorph quite deliberately, and with the help of a friend, because there are only so many terms you can use to refer to the creature in question] [but that link you’ve just given lists hundreds of different words for rabbits] [look just shut up and stop interrupting, it was you who wanted me to get to the point] [. . .] [thank you]
Where was I? Oh yes. Well, to cut a long story short, the film was about giant killer rabbits. And of course the elaborate periphrasis is to attempt to soften the blow of the cold, hard, truth. Which is that I was terrified witless by one of the worst films ever made. If not the worst. Yes. I confess. I hang my head in shame. However I take heart, belatedly, in my middle years, from this clearly highly empathetic review:
Lepus is a failure on every level – it was even rated PG, not an auspicious start for a horror film – but it isn’t too hard to imagine it being terrifying for young children, by dint of the interminable slow-motion stampeding rabbit footage (which begins to take on a surreal quality) and the mixture of monster-bunny noises (they sound alternatively like cattle, elephants, and cassettes being chewed up in a tape deck). The juxtaposition of harmless cuddly animals turning into hopping mad omnivores (not carnivores, as the film suggests) may be exactly the kind of thing to give some kids nightmares.
No wonder I always found Harvey a deeply disturbing film.
My current interest in bunnies wavers between the agricultural (let me get my teeth into you) and the horror (let me bash your brains out with a spade) and actually half the entire purpose of this post is to share with the world, or those parts of it that both visit this humble domain and have not yet seen it, the picture below.
Yes. It’s a bunny. Yes, it’s a giant bunny. Yes, it’s an unfeasibly huge giant bunny. And it’s real. And it’s going to hop off and save the starving North Koreans. But as you can probably tell by the look in its eye the act of salvation requires the ultimate sacrifice, that it give up its life to feed its friend. Or in this case its friend and seven other members of the friend’s family.
An entirely sensible response by the North Korean Government to the current (unacknowledged) pervasive starvation among the population. The rabbit, as I might already have mentioned, is the most efficent [yes, yes, you have already mentioned it] [are you saying I’m boring? I thought I told you to shut up]
Ahem. Anyway. Isn’t that just a great picture? Or is this one even better?
Yes, I like the general helplessness of that one too. I thought at first the rabbit was being held by its ears but given its dimensions I should imagine doing so might cause them to become detached from the rest of the body thus allowing it to escape.
The second reason for this exigesis is to link to one of the many places this story can be found, the English site of Spiegel Online, to check out their whizzy blog-friendly tools, one of which uses Technorati to show all blogs which have linked to the story. So in fact almost the entire effort of putting together this post can be chalked up as work!
One final point, before I hop off to make some lunch, the term lepus is the Latin word for hare, creatures which, as we all know, don’t congregate in large social colonies and don’t live in burrows. The Latin word for rabbit, on the other hand, is cuniculus. Had the makers of Night of the Lepus got their title terminology correct maybe they would have found it easier to get an x rating.