|DAY OF THE ANIMALS
|Rated PG (How in the heck?)
|Copyright 1976 Film Ventures
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 13 July 2001
- Steve Buckner - Weathered man who acts as a backpacking guide for groups of city slickers. Not the sort to get excited, even when under attack by eclectic groups of predators.
- Terry Marsh - Anchorwoman for a news program and she just loves the weathered mountain man type. Especially when he is all that stands between her and a food chain turned upside down.
- Santee - Experienced woodsman, which means that he is of American Indian descent (of course). I've been trying to figure out if he was assisting Buckner or just along to have some fun.
- Moore - Football player suffering from cancer. He hoped this hiking trip would help him come to grips with his condition. Gets eaten by dogs, so it's kind of a moot point.
- Frank & Mandy - Trying to save their marriage by roughing it for a few weeks. Well, they managed to keep their "till death do us part" promises. She is carried over a cliff by attacking birds, while he gets jumped by rattlesnakes and a mad dog.
- The Little Girl - Probably watched her parents get chomped, then briefly cared for by Frank before his gruesome end. She is a psychiatrist's dream come true. I mean, one case like this could put your kids through college.
- Bob & Beth - Young couple out to experience America's natural places and each other. He ends up on the wrong side of a "Lord of the Flies" reference.
- Professor MacGregor - Learned man and amateur photographer. Unfortunately he was born with a birthmark that spelled out the words "Chuck Wagon."
- Mrs. Goodwyn - Gets my vote for the least properly dressed person among the hikers. I'm surprised she wasn't wearing heels.
- John - The Goodwyn boy who is in desperate need of a male role model.
- Tucker - Overweight park ranger. Somebody needs to explain the difference between ice cream and sunscreen to him. Dies of something; maybe a clogged artery?
- Jenson - Leslie Nielsen the ad executive! Finds out that one of the "Bear Necessities" is his liver.
- The Animals - Eagles, dogs, mountain lions, wolves, owls, and even snakes that have been driven insane by increased ultraviolet radiation!
|"Day of the Animals" reminds me of "Wild America;" it must be a combination of the footage quality and framing. Since this movie is about wildlife going crazy and attacking people, it conjures up some amusing thoughts. Marty Stouffer would look pretty funny running across the screen with a crazed beaver attached to his butt, wouldn't he? Ah well, I can always hope.
The opening credits give warning that the ozone layer is being dangerously depleted by mankind's actions. A measure of our protection against a hostile universe stripped away, somebody is going to have to pay the price. Luckily the environmental damage is limited to altitudes above five thousand feet. Hey, it looks like Denver is stuck with the tab! Most large population centers will be unaffected, but those mile high snobs had better invest in sunscreen and ammo real quick.
Think about the scientific problems with this for a minute. The ozone layer is part of the stratosphere; it starts around ten miles from the ground and extends about twenty miles upwards from there. Would being on top of a mountain differ that much from ground level if the ozone layer were destroyed? I'm talking about some place other than Los Angeles (where they have their very own ozone layer).
Our unfortunate characters are, for the most part, members of a backpacking excursion. Helicopters drop them off at a point high in the mountains and leave the inexperienced hikers to make their way back down over the course of two weeks. Food is cached along the way just in case, but the goal is to live off the land (mmm - seeds and tubers) during their adventure. Their choice of a starting elevation and timing is poor; the humans will be well above five thousand feet when the ozone hits the CFCs. Merciless solar radiation fries all the reason out of the animals, turning them into homicidal beasts. And they only hate people! And Buckner does not believe in guns so everybody carries a stick. Ain't that a bitch?
Santee is the first to take notice of the changes being wrought around them. The forest is quiet, almost waiting and gathering its strength for another outburst of fanged and feathered fury. His increased vigilance is for naught though; wolves sneak into camp in the dead of night and savage Mandy. Only after Frank and her split off to seek aid at a nearby ranger station do the experienced woodsmen realize their paying customers' lives are in danger. The metal food containers are found, but something (Mr. Bear gets my vote) has ripped them open and eaten the contents. Then a string of attacks begin, building in ferocity and always heralded by an eagle's cry.
Not all of the attacks are carried out by wolves or bears. A number of casualties result when domestic canines become violent. In fact, nearly every creature imaginable seems out to commit random acts of violence against humans. What I want to know is: How did the owls get too much sun?
Frank was horrified (maybe not too badly, a divorce means she gets half) to see his wife fall to her death after birds attack. As a result, he stumbles around as a senseless idiot for a while, but pulls himself together after finding a little girl. The child gives him something to focus on: getting both of them to safety. Meanwhile, the main group has split in half due to the machinations of Jenson. He convinces Mrs. Goodwyn and the teenagers to join him in a trek to the ranger station, while Buckner leads the others on the shortest path out of the mountains.
You really get to hate Jenson; he is a completely reprehensible person. Even before he gives Bob a refresher course in primitive weaponry and then tries to rape Beth I wanted Leslie to meet a very messy end. Once he loses it though, look out! He strips off his shirt and begins ranting! That just about made my jaw hit the floor, I was even a little sorry when Baloo arrived and cut the performance short. The remainder of this group actually finds the ranger station and a crashed helicopter; they use the latter to take refuge from vicious dogs.
Wait a minute, what took out the helicopter? Flying pigs? (Don't laugh, they would blend right in with the rest of the movie.)
Luck is not with Buckner and company this week. They find some cabins to rest in, but the abandoned camp is inhabited by a pack of beautifully groomed German shepherds. Barricading themselves in one of the structures delays the outcome for a while and provides a great moment of ludicrous entertainment. One of the dogs sticks its paw through a hole in the door and tries to bat at Buckner like a cat might! What self-respecting dog would do such a thing? Then, when the danger seems to have passed and the people let their guard down, the pack starts pouring into the room. Moore and the Professor are swamped in happy pooches (just look at those tails wag), but hold them off long enough for the others to escape and float downstream on a makeshift raft.
Lots of people get killed by dogs in this movie. In fact, Frank makes it all the way to town when a few rattlesnakes and somebody's mutt do him in. There is no way a dog, even an attack dog, should kill an armed man. Now, we can safely assume most of the people were armed with knives and Frank had a hammer when he died. The principle is simple: grab the dog, bear it down under you, and go for the vitals. If there is more than one dog you just need to wash, rinse, and repeat. It is going to bite the heck out of you; that's your own darn fault for not having a gun. In the end the man is the one standing though, even if he has to get a series of painful shots.
Eventually all the animals die of exposure, leaving soldiers wrapped in aluminum foil to clean up the mess. I can honestly say it was an entertaining film, but for reasons opposite of what the director (William Girdler) intended. Watching Leslie Nielsen try to wrestle a bear... ...probably the funniest thing I've ever seen him do. Even if editing meant he was grappling with an ursine imitator while the trainer was the one getting knocked around.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Indians do not have tear ducts.
- Journalism professors are much better in the classroom than in the bedroom.
- Eagles subsist on dried fruit.
- Wrestling with an attacking mountain lion will only result in minor scratches.
- When a man points at a woman and says, "I want that." he probably doesn't mean her backpack.
- Reptiles are not animals.
- Do not try to hug a bear to death.
- Snakes have suction cups on their bellies.
- California is home to roving packs of killer dingoes.
- 22 mins - Are you trying to hit the owl? I do not know if this kid is a brat or just dumb.
- 33 mins - Somehow nobody notices the mountain lion.
- 40 mins - Where did the doll go? Frank had it in his hand just a minute ago...
- 47 mins - Sounds like a knife being scraped against something ceramic.
- 59 mins - Be the fish, be the fish, be the fish. No, not that much!
- 69 mins - Uh-oh Bob. It looks like Jenson has invented the spear. You should invent the bow before he... ...too late.
- 73 mins - Stop annoying God! The next lightning bolt might not miss or else he could get creative and send a bear to eat you.
- 75 mins - That is what I am talking about; a deity with imagination!
- 83 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A CANTEEN!
- 87 mins - What in the world is that dog doing on the roof?
- Old Coot: "God sent a plague down on us, because we're just a bunch of no good fellers."
- Santee: "You know, I think it's best that we keep the fire up tonight and post a guard."
Buckner: "You really think it's that serious?"
Santee: "Well, I don't know. There's something strange in the woods and I don't know what it is."
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Jenson: "I'm not talking about the city sonny. I'm talking about out here, where you can die from starvation or be eaten by big teeth when you don't have protection." |
Buckner: "It's all right Mr. Jenson; we can survive with weapons."
||Mandy: "God, I hate you, I hate you!" |
Frank: "All right damn it! Get up yourself! Get up and move before these damn birds eat your eyes out - come on!"
||Jenson: "You lily-livered punk! I'm running this camping trip! I take what I want, and I give you what I want to give you! Understand that?" |
Beth: "Stop it, please!"
Jenson: "And right now I want that." (Meaning the girl.)
||Frank getting eaten by rattlesnakes and a dog.
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
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|Tucker was just fixing himself a midnight snack (something he looks to be rather good at) and only turned away for a minute. That's all the time that these rats needed; they ate half the leftovers and evolved powerful back legs for jumping.
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