Sunday, December 1, 2013

Day of the Animals 1977

 Animal mayhem ensues while a  shirtless & insane Leslie Nielson 
threatens people with a big pointed stick ! (And wrestles a BEAR !!...)

    From 1977 comes this very loopy and entertaining nature on a rampage ‘spoliation feature directed by the great William Girdler. With a cast including everybody’s favorite 70’s exploitation movie couple Christopher & Lynda Day George along with a WAY out there demented and scenery chewing role by a pre-Airplane Leslie Neilson. This was Gridler's follow-up to his OTHER rampaging wild beast movie Grizzly from 1976 that also starred Christopher George and Richard Jaeckel (who shows up here too). Perhaps thinking that more is better he ups the ante of animals here and while the poster promises a virtual Noah’s Ark full of rampaging critters attacking in unison we mostly get a few woodland creatures - eagles, mountain lions, bears plus quite few rattlesnakes (and a bunch of dogs) but none the less, this has great fun written all over it.

     Released in the midst of the eco-friendly 70’s and tying in to the then still rather new theory of aerosol cans eating away at the ozone this has just been released in the form of a new spanking blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing. Christopher George plays Steve Buckner who along leads a mixed bag group (with many familiar faces here) on survival camping trip up in the California mountains. Also along is Michael Ansara playing Buckner’s assistant/guide (and the token Native American) who intones wise parables concerning life & nature, an ex –footballer dying of cancer (Paul Mantee), divorced mom (Ruth Roman) with annoying kid, a TV news reporter (Lynda Day George - who's hair & makeup remain perfect despite ongoing animal carnage), scientist guy w/ glasses (the always worth watching Jaeckel) and alpha male a-hole & big shot ad-exec Jenson (Leslie Nielson), a young couple (including a pre Shannon Tweed & Skinemax Andrew Stevens) and the bickering married couple (Jon Cedar & JAWS fodder Susan Backlinie).

    Little does the group know however, that because of the depleted ozone layer it seems that the suns solar rays has fried the brains of the animals who live above 5000 ft. turning them all into mad beasts (with a serious grudge against people). This means that we're treated to various time filling footage of wildlife trotting thru the forest and watching the hiking group. Its never really made clear if the animals all working as a team or not (although the dogs & birds seem to have the teamwork thing going on).
   As the animal attacks mount the group splinters with Cedar and wife Susan Backlinie running up against a gang of angry buzzards & eagles while attempting to reach safety after she's mauled by a wolf. Jensen (Nielson) spends the entire movie making racial jokes to Ansara's Native American character and seems to be affected by the sun the same as the animals as he starts going off the deep end. After a failed food drop Jensen talks Andrew Stevens and his girlfriend along with Roman and her annoying son to leave Christopher George's guidance (and his fading in & out southern accent) to head off with him where upon he goes into full Lord of the Flies mode. Stripping off his shirt he yells at God, bullies the mom & kid and ends up killing nice guy Andrew Stevens while attempting to rape his girlfriend - "Your MINE !! I KILLED for YOU !!" he screams while chewing & spitting up gobs of scenery.

   Just when you thing things can't get any better a bear lumbers into the camp and a shirtless Nielson wades in to wrestle it ! Holy Crap !! For any other movie this would be the climax but there's still more - massed German Shepard attacks, cars full of snakes and leaping rats.
   Director William Girdler had an amazing career during the 70's. Along with this he also directed the blacksploitation Exorcist rip off Abby (1974) along with Three on a Meathook (1973), Asylum of Satan (1972), Sheba Baby (1975) and the totally insane The Manitou from 1978 with Tony Curtis (and a whole bunch more slumming former A-lister's & has been's). What's even more unbelievable is that he did all this before he reached the age of 30 ! Tragically in 1978 he would die in a helicopter accident while scouting locations in the Philippines.

Hey Look !- It's  Michelle Stacy (that little girl from Airplane with Leslie Nielson !)



  1. Looks interesting, don't think I know this one, how would you compare it with "Beast On The Streets"?

    1. Wow - I haven't see that in YEARS ! (more like decades). I have vague memories of seeing it back in the 70's and remember it was kind of cool (plus it had Carol Lynley). I need to check it out again as I've been going thru a 70's TV movie phase recently.

      I just looked it up on IMDB and was surprised to see it was directed by Peter Hunt who was editor on the early James Bonds and directed On Her Majesty's Secret Service.