Bunnies run amok

(Only a bit about language.)

Xopher Walker wrote on Facebook a couple of days ago about the plague of rabbits in his yard and garden (which his dog Dolly was doing her best to address), and cited the absurd monster flick Night of the Lepus:

Night of the Lepus, also known as Rabbits, is a 1972 American science fiction horror film based on the 1964 science fiction novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit.

Released theatrically on October 4, 1972, it focuses on members of a small Arizona town who battle thousands of mutated, carnivorous killer rabbits. (Wikipedia link)

The movie belongs to the large genre of horror/suspense movies (and fiction etc.) — think of Hitchcock’s Psycho — about human evil of one kind or another, and embracing ghost stories, as well as the subgenre of monster movies (and fiction etc.), where the creepiness comes from humanity gone awry in some crucial way, and indeed to the subsubgenre of “natural horror” movies (where natural means ‘having to do with nature’):

Natural horror is a sub-genre of horror films “featuring nature running amok in the form of mutated beasts, carnivorous insects, and normally harmless animals or plants turned into cold-blooded killers.” (Wikipedia link)

Monster movies include those in which human beings have gone awry, usually because a scientist has interfered with the natural order (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man), and those involving various sorts of unnatural humanoids (classically: vampires, werewolves, zombies). Then there are created monsters (like Frankenstein’s monster and those fashioned by Dr. Moreau) and humanoid mutants of many kinds (including the pod people of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and, more recently, mutant superheroes).

Now, details on two topics: horror/monster movies discussed on this blog; and a quick summary of natural horror movies (there are an amazing number of them).

Horror/monster movies on AZBlog.

☛  Monster movies flowered in the 1930s. The first report on this blog was in “Horror movies” of 3/21/12: on Island of Lost Souls (Doctor Moreau), Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Tod Browning’s Freaks; then werewolves in 1941’s The Wolf Man; plus zombies in the 1968 Night of the Living Dead (thus completing the trio of vampires, werewolves, and zombies — the current ruling humanoid monsters).

☛  Also from the ’30s, the 1933 Invisible Man: see “The Invisible Man” of 10/23/12. We then have four monsters warning of the hazards of science: Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man, in which the scientist is himself transformed; and the monstrous creations of Dr. Moreau and Dr. Frankenstein.

☛  The first great mutant monster was the giant gorilla King Kong (introduced in the 1933 movie).

☛  There then seems to have been a break until the 1950s, when Godzilla came on the scene: see “Portmanteau to libfix” of 5/22/11, on the original Godzilla of 1958 and on the libfix -zilla. Followed in 1961 by Mothra (see #1 in “Three more cartoons for Sunday” of 8/4/13).

☛  Further mutant monsters on this blog: in 1954, Creature from the Black Lagoon (in “May/June turnover” of 6/1/14); in 1971, originally in comic books, but eventually in theatrical films, live-action tv, etc., Swamp Thing (“Swamp Thing” of 3/1/14); in 2006, a mutant Mammoth (“Mammoth (2006)” of 7/1/12); and a whole collection of Roger Corman portmanteau monsters (Dinocroc, Piranhaconda, Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda, etc.– see “Odds and ends 8/18/13” of 8/18/13).

☛  Meanwhile, on the humanoid monster front there was Invasion of the Body Snatchers,

a 1956 American black-and-white science fiction film directed by Don Siegel, starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, that was released through Allied Artists Picture Corporation. Daniel Mainwaring adapted the screenplay from Jack Finney’s 1954 novel The Body Snatchers.

The story depicts an extraterrestrial invasion of a small California town. The invasion begins with plant spores that develop into large pods with each eventually producing internally a duplicate replacement of one of the town’s human citizenry. As the pods reach full development, their “seed” assimilates the physical characteristics, memories and personalities of the humans but are devoid of emotion. (Wikipedia link)

(A notable 1978 remake starred Donald Sutherland.)

☛  Finally, for mutant humanoids, but superheroes rather than monsters, see “Ab-vengers” of 12/1/12.

Natural horror movies. I spent some time putting together a representative list of these, only to discover that there was a pretty good list on Wikipedia. It’s organized into eight classes of organisms, with further sublists pulled out for some especially popular topics. There are some hybrid creatures (note Roger Corman above) and a fair number that are just hard to characterize. A few of the movies were made as spoofs, but most of them were intended seriously (usually as science fiction movies), however much humor some viewers might find in them

☛  1. Arachnids. Lots and lots of spiders, especially tarantulas (and even the 2007 Ice Spiders), but also ticks and scorpions.

☛  2. Birds. Including chickens. And of course Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963).

☛  3. Fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Sharks are pulled out for special attention, but mutants in this category also include crabs, squid (It Came From Beneath the Sea, 1955), eels, snakeheads, piranhas, octopuses, and more.

☛  4. Insects. Ants get a list of their own, as do bees and wasps, but there are also mutant grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches, mantises, flies (The Fly, 1958 and 1986), mosquitoes, and more.

☛  5. Mammals. Special lists for felines (house cats, lions, tigers, sabretooths), canines (including The Hound of the Baskervilles, from 1933 and after), primates (monkeys, gorillas, orangutans, and baboons, with a sublist for King Kong), and rats, plus mutant shrews, rabbits (this is where we came in), orca whales, sheep, weasels, buffalo, bears, pigs/hogs, and bats.

☛  6. Reptiles, amphibians, and dinosaurs. Special list for crocodiles and alligators and one for snakes (especially anacondas), plus mutant Komodo dragons, frogs, gila monsters, raptors (Jurassic Park, 1993), and pterodactyls. There’s a Godzilla sublist here.

☛  7. Worms and parasites — including leeches (Attack of the Giant Leeches, 1959), slugs (Slugs, 1988), and giant prehistoric worms (the wonderful Tremors, 1990).

☛  8. Plants. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978 and after), Day of the Triffids (1962 and after), man-eating flowers (Little Shop of Horrors, 1960 and after), mutant trees, tree roots, and vines.

Favorite movie mutants include spiders, sharks, crocs and gators, snakes, ants, bees, dogs, and prehistoric creatures of all sorts.

While assembling this posting, I was watching the 2011 Canadian monster feature Behemoth, which features a reptilian Mayan monster (one of those hard-to-classify creatures) and the amiable actor Ed Quinn. The world was, once again, saved.

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