You gotta love a movie with serious intentions that becomes utterly hilarious. Released in 1977, the ludicrous Day Of The Animals takes the cake.
Oh yeah, this poster had me suckered in as they all did back then, but if only I knew what the movie was gonna be like!
The trailer is quite awful as you can see…
We’re told that the recent depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer causes the sun to shine powerful ultraviolet light emitting some kind of solar radiation that makes all animals above the altitude of 5,000 feet to go apeshit for want of a better term.
In a scenario that gets even more ridiculous, a batch of hikers have been dropped off by helicopter unaware of the just-announced quarantine. No animal is to be trusted, and to be honest I wouldn’t trust this guy.
“This game of hide and seek will end soon my friends”.
Among our hikers are Leslie Nielsen, Lynda Day George, Christopher George, Boy George (just kidding), Susan Backlinie (the girl who got munched in the opening of Jaws), Ruth Roman and Richard Jaeckel.
In a stroke of anti-genius, Day Of The Animals reunites Christopher George and Jaeckel from Grizzly, and we also have the same director of Grizzly in the ham-fisted William Girdler and producer Edward L. Montoro. Ya got lucky one time guys, not again!
Day Of The Animals opens with a crawl spouting some nonsense about a “shocking discovery” two professors uncovered at the University Of California in 1974 that aerosol spray cans had fluorocarbon gases causing damage to the Earth’s ozone layer (Al Gore’s inspiration was this film?). The crawl concludes by telling us this is what COULD happen if we do nothing to protect nature’s shield for life on the planet. Oooooooo….
It’s very interesting to see such statements back in 1977 in all honesty but having schizoid hawks and mice attacking humans probably wasn’t the best way to get a message across.
“We only get one day to kill off humanity? Sheesh!”.
Our group of morons (always fun at the start to predict who gets pegged off first in these films) starts climbing the mountains and about 15 minutes in, the resident minority (here it’s an American Indian) stops and says “There’s no sound”. After awkward looking shots of people trying to act shocked all of a sudden the birds start going nuts. A hawk lands near the cliched dorky young boy in a California Angels hat (yeah that’s what they were called back then), but decides to fly off.
This leads to Jaeckel saying, “I’ve never seen anything like it before”. The Indian played by Michael Ansara states, “Me neither”. Really? You’ve never seen a bird fly, land and leave? Get out much guys?
In the local eatery (or dump), a cliched overweight sheriff stops in to play cards with his buddies and a news report comes on over the TV (a shitty B&W TV) about the ozone disturbance and how high-altitude areas especially are in jeopardy. Hmmmm…is that why that dog with mange was growling outside the door?
“Go ahead, pet me! No, really! Ignore that Day Of The Animals talk-that’s just the media”.
The sheriff’s reaction? “Jesus! I told ya that sun seemed damn peculiar today, Suzie-gimme a piece of pineapple pie and dump some ice cream on it”.
Our sheriff is played by ex-NFL player Walter Barnes! Barnes was also in High Plains Drifter with Clint Eastwood and played Tank Murdock in Every Which Way But Loose also with Eastwood and Clyde The Chimp!
Cue ominous music, slice of pineapple pie and stock footage of flying hawks and eagles…
“From playing against the Chicago Bears to watching them wrestle Leslie Nielsen-ah, the mysteries of life!”.
An especially wretched scene has the annoying little dork throwing rocks at something. His fat-ass Mom yells at him to stop and that he will get lost. He’s standing 5 feet away from her! Even better, our American Indian walks up to him and says, “You better stop, or I will scalp you”. Insultingly bad on so many levels!
The campfire at night is the perfect setting for lame harmonica playing, stilted dialogue and a menacing owl who seems to be commanding the others because eerie music happens each time we see him.
Finally an attack! A coyote comes out of nowhere and attacks one of the female hikers in her sleep and somehow she has but a few scratches. A mountain lion will later have some fun too. The owl should train his killer minions better than this!
“I suppose my invitation to go camping got lost in the mail? Fuck that-now, I eat you”.
A brilliant plan is hatched in which the woman who was attacked (Backlinie the chick from Jaws) and another guy will hike all the way back down to get her medical attention in about, oh let’s say 5 weeks, while the other move forward. But some awesome unintentional comedy will be provided by Leslie Nielsen as he utters racist taunts at Ansara and begins to question the whole trip.
The gang keeps hiking as our creatures organize! We’ve got a mountain lion, a falcon, a bunch of wolves and even a tarantula for good measure (how did he get involved?).
Our couple who have gone the other direction are in some trouble and begin arguing. Actually, it’s the woman who is acting irrational telling the dude to leaver her alone and screaming at him so he walks away and that’s when out hawks, falcons and buzzards move in for the kill!
“Wait ’til I tell the guys I killed the chick from JAWS!”.
The attack scene isn’t that bad but as Backlinie is somehow now on the edge of a cliff, the birds drag her down and she falls to her death over a pretty fucking awful blue screen! Let this be a lesson-beware of buzzards!
“Duh, I was in Day Of The Animals and dey told me I won a Oscar!”.
More poor film making occurs when the guy in the bad striped shirt now without his buzzard-eaten chick sees a little girl at a river. He very awkwardly stumbles over and only decides to call out to her once he reaches her. He offers her a bit of food he has left when a hawk swoops down and takes it away. He falls back, grabs the girl and in awful slow motion they begin running.
“If you call me Gilligan little girl, I’m leaving you to the buzzards”.
When Barnes gets woken out of his fat sleep that the town must be evacuated, he goes into the kitchen to eat some leftovers (well, if you’re a fat sheriff, wouldn’t you eat?)and he gets treated to a rat attack as the little fellers start pouncing on him one by one until he beheads one with a knife that jumped upon his face! “Round And Round” indeed! (That’s a Ratt joke by the way).
Things really get cooking when Nielsen starts going psycho and wants control of the group from Jaeckel. A great line: “Well let me tell you something hotshot, I use my head all the time, when a lot of time people use their butts!”.
Naturally, the groups will split in two and we still have the striped shirt guy with the little girl who won’t talk as well. Those two come upon an empty campsite and then the thunder and lightning begin!
“If I’m going to give my best performance, you assholes best get some real lighting! And where the hell is that honey I asked for an hour ago!!!”-Angry bear actor on the set
We now see the transformation of Nielsen into raving lunatic! When the whiny Jewish woman complains, the disturbingly shirtless Nielsen tells her, “You’re with me now Miss Beverly Hills bitch, so shut up and keep moving !”. He then pushes her forward with a giant stick and when her little boy objects, Nielsen grabs him and says, “You little cockroach, you gonna tell me about survival?’. Priceless (and worthless) dialogue my friends!
Speak like an asshole and carry a big stick.
Oh, but it gets much…worse. In the driving rain, Nielsen continues to go crazy (the ozone affects him too?) as he throws the mother and son to the ground and beats a young guy on board with a stick. More hammy lines are spouted such as: “You lily-livered punk! I’m running this camping trip! I take what I want and I give ya what I wanna give ya! Understand that? And right now, I want that!’.
No cockroaches allowed.
What’s that you ask? Oh, it would be the young guy’s girlfriend, pleading and crying by a giant rock. The young guy threatens Nielsen who then spears him in the stomach as this piece of shit gets more ridiculous by the second.
You doubt me? Well, how about Nielsen by a fire looking up at the heavens in the rain, uttering this nonsense: “My father who art in Heaven, you made a jack-ass out of me for years! It’s never been you for me! Melville’s God that’s the God I believe in! You see what you want you take it-you take it! And I’m gonna do just that!”.
WATCH this please!!! It’s hilariously disturbing and comedy at it’s unintentional finest.
What’s that you ask? He wants to rape the girlfriend of the guy he killed as it’s pouring rain but his disgusting little session is interrupted by a giant bear (the same bear from Grizzly). So, the most sensible thing to do if you’re insane? Wrestle the bear-duh!
Final score: Bear 1, Nielsen nil.
“Bears do NOT like wannabe rapists with no shirt on! Now, we wrestle you disgusting human!”.
Back in town, striped shirt guy and little girl are realizing nobody is around but they do find a bunch of rattlesnakes and a rabid dog so they hide in a jeep but of course it won’t turn over. Stripe shirt guy sees his car and tells the little girl he will be back and grabs a hammer to deal with the pooch. He very strangely kisses the little girl goodbye (it’s creepy trust me) and heads outside.
Well, striped shirt guy opens his car (a light blue Volkswagen Beetle-yeah!) which is filled with snakes! He gits bit and then the rabid pooch joins in and attacks him as the little girl watches from the jeep. Ha ha ha.
Alas, jazz hands alone could not stop the killer snakes from sucking the life out of that awful striped shirt.
As for the trio who escape the clutches of Nielsen (the bitchy Jewish woman, the dorky boy and the girl who luckily avoided Nielsen’s “naked gun”), they find a helicopter and the boy goes inside. One problem-a pack of rabid dogs is nearby and comes after them though they manage to hide inside.
And the other 5? Well, they find a series of abandoned cabins and run in when a very well-organized pack of pups hunts them down. They get inside a cabin but the dogs bust through the windows and get some kibbles n’ bits (o’ human flesh!).
“We heard there was beer so you humans are going down!”
Lynda Day George will stand there and scream, offers no help but gets out anyway.
“Is it over yet? I want to help, but you guys seemed to be doing just fine being eaten by the dogs!”
This scene is actually intense and well-done and very similar to another film I will soon review that I saw in theaters in 1977 The Pack.
3 will make and 2 bite the dust. They get to a river but of course the dumb blonde can’t swim so they cut off the dock to use as a makeshift raft but the dogs hop onto the raft-woof! Jaeckel, Ansara and the blonde (Lynda Day George) hang onto the edge of the raft and float downstream with the dogs on board. The scene fades so who the shit knows what happened?
“Let’s do the math here-we dogs will stay on the raft and you humans can fuck off. How’s that sound?”
Next it’s dawn and the dogs outside the helicopter are dead so the 3 fools exit and in town dudes in Hazmat suits are clearing things and find the little girl.
Our floating fools wake up and see people on a bridge realizing the nightmare is over (but not for those who suffered through this crapfest). Ah, but wait…an eagle is perched and will fly at the screen and the movie ends! Or does it?
“All I got was this lousy end scene? My agent is toast!”
Day Of The Animals is exploitative animal poop with a few decent scenes but it’s mostly lame. The Leslie Nielsen scene is pure gold though and highly recommended for endless laughs.
No doubt the producers and director thought they had a hit on their hands based on the surprise success of Grizzly which I reviewed here. Day Of The Animals is actually better made than Grizzly but that’s like saying Falco was a better singer than Taco.
1. Day Of The Animals bombed at the box office taking in a putrid $2.8 million.
2. The score for Day Of The Animals was by Lalo Schifrin. Yes, that’s the same guy who did the Mission: Impossible theme!
3. Day Of The Animals was also show on TV and in Europe as Something Is Out There a title that sucks as bad as the film.
Day Of The Animals (1977):
3 1/2 beagles out of 4 for awfulness
Q: Should you see Day Of The Animals?
A: A shirtless, crazed Leslie Nielsen wrestling a grizzly bear after a failed rape attempt? Well, if your Friday nights are lacking you now have your answer.