Day of the Animals (William Girdler, 1977) is a bad (dare I say, so bad it’s good) disaster / revenge-of-nature film that screams seventies. Its plot is simple: a group of assorted characters, who shouldn’t be hiking in the best of circumstances, head up into the mountains just as animals start massing and trying to kill all humans—a phenomenon apparently caused by the thinning ozone layer.
There’s bad acting and plot holes as big as those in the ozone layer (not least, after a violent confrontation, one group chooses to continue up the mountain, yet is thereafter shown trekking down, while the other group, which chose to go down the mountain, is subsequently shown hiking up). There’s utterly horrible dialogue and baffling character development—and more than a few offensive comments thrown at the one Native American character. (I won’t even go into how the women are portrayed!)
The incomparable Leslie Nielsen (yes, one reason to see the film) plays a character who starts out as a straightforward obnoxious advertising executive, yet before long he mutates into a bare-chested survivalist, screaming into the rain, declaring allegiance to “Melville’s God,” shoving a mother and her child violently onto the ground, trying to rape a young woman (after telling her, “You belong to me. I own you”), stabbing a man through the abdomen with a walking stick, and then grappling (willingly) with a very large grizzly bear. The only possible excuse for this startling series of events might be that he is the lone person affected by the depleted-ozone-layer-induced madness that otherwise affects only nonhuman animals. You have to make that leap yourself, though, because the film doesn’t. Read more