It’s a little something different to add to the list of Easter movies on the holiday horror page, and they come from fifty years apart.
NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (1972)
If you’re itching for another killer rabbit movie to pack your Easter weekend marathon, this one is loaded with giant killer rabbits and it stars Janet Leigh!
A total product of its time, this is the kind of ecologically aware film you would see on nature strikes back week on the 4:30 movie back in the 1970s. Sort of like Food of the Gods. Actually, a lot like Food of the Goods in its presentation of the giant animals— filmed close-up and running through little models to make them look extra big.
A scientist is asked to do something to curb a population explosion of rabbits. What does he do? Shoots them up with hormones that are supposed to disrupt their breeding cycle.
Instead, it turns into bunnies on steroids! They grow huge and begin seriously tearing people apart. This is surprisingly bloody.
As in all these giant animal movies, they make a creepy noise and they’re often filmed in slow motion to create an ominous effect. The cheesy giant rabbit effects aside, there are a few really good attack scenes, and it’s surreal watching Janet Leigh fend off a horde of giant bunnies as the authorities set up a giant booby trap. Hey. It was the 1970s and before The Exorcist. Cut it some slack.
DEATH TO METAL (2021)
Taking place officially on Easter weekend, this heavy metal slasher comedy is only 76 minutes long, and it’s one of those rare cases when I would have been happy to get another 15 minutes. The reason being that the film doesn’t hit its stride until about halfway through, and then it gets to be such a blast that you want more—and you want to spend more time with the characters you feel you didn’t get to know enough earlier on.
The opener is in black and white and shows big metal head bullies picking on a little kid…and even pissing on him with a graphic shot of the stream flowing from penis and balls.
Next, we meet our main guy, who is having a bad day. He’s dumped by his band and his girlfriend on the weekend of the Holy Saturday Metal Massacre concert event.
Meanwhile, there’s an out of control priest that preaches against rock bands and every other awesome thing in life, like internet porn and gay weddings. He’s so extreme he gets booted from the church…and then becomes deformed by a toxic waste spillage.
He is transformed into a murderous priest creature that uses a big crucifix as a weapon. Awesome. Inexplicable, but awesome. Even the characters eventually poke fun at his questionable mutation.
The pace is a bit slow at first, but there’s a backstory told with cool animation, some early kills, a guy with a cool devil horns belt buckle, and a sex scene that blesses us with the guy’s naked booty and cute furry chest.
It’s when the priest arrives at the show that the film finds its vibe, and it’s great. The cast of main characters is lovable, the gore is done with practical effects, there are clever setup shots, and the humor is quite good.
There is a bit of shaky cam footage of bands playing that might turn some viewers off, but it’s not like we have to watch full concert performances to pad the time (as we do in some indies).
I just felt all the best stuff was rushed. There’s not enough unfolding of murderous events—it mostly happens in one quick massacre. However, I do know that I’ll keep director Tim Connery on my radar to see if he does more horror, because I’ll so be there for it.