A Quick Note
A quick note: When I first reviewed Day of the Animals I gave it a well deserved four out of ten. Outside of the score and some grammar cleanup, I present the original review below.
So what changed my mind? Well, part of it honestly was seeing a better version of the film. The new HD transfer available on Blu-ray and streaming through Amazon cleans up the picture and sound. It also makes the endless shots of the sun (to show the ozone disappearing naturally) much less headache-inducing.
The other thing that changed my mind was watching the RiffTrax version of the film. I didn’t appreciate how unintentionally funny the movie was on my initial viewing. Leslie Nielson’s character, in particular, is a hoot throughout. I have watched the movie again without the RiffTrax commentary and found it much more enjoyable.
Based on the fact that just writing those above three paragraphs makes me want to watch Day of the Animals for the fifth time merits the movie getting an eight out of ten from me. As for the actual quality of the movie? A four was generous.
Leslie put the rug down and come over here.
Day of the Animals (1977): 8 out of 10: Filmed in glare-o-vision (either to emulate a world without ozone or to give me a headache) Day of the Animals ask what if all the animals went crazy and worked together to kill B-Movie actors? Hmm
Unlike most nature gone wild movies that focus on one deadly animal (snakes, spiders, small dogs wearing the cutest rat outfits.) Day of the Animals, like its predecessor Frogs, throws every living creature at the cast. (Though in Day of the Animals defense unlike Frogs it at least sticks to animals, no one gets killed by the Spanish moss.)
It doesn’t work. It really doesn’t work. The animal attacks are laughable. Rats and snakes on fishing lines are thrown at actors. A shirtless Leslie Nielson gets attacked by a bear rug in a scene right out of that killer carpet movie The Creeping Terror. Then there are the attacking dogs. All of whom are downright lovable complete with wagging tails. (I’ve seen Benji look fiercer than those German shepherds who looked every bit like they were chasing a miniature chuck wagon.)
As for the acting, well you get a shirtless Leslie Nielson hamming it up (years before he did Airplane and “went” into comedy) and Jon Cedar channeling a third rate William Shatner singing Barry Manilow (you won’t be able to get that Mandy tune out of your head.)
The film has plenty of cannon fodder (even that old comedic and anti-Semitic stand-by the overprotective Jewish mother played by Ruth Roman as if she was directed by Leni Riefenstahl). It even has The Poseidon Adventure scene when one pig-headed group splits off from the other.
Day of the Animals also has the worst DVD transfer ever. A third rate pan and scan picture and no chapters or even a title screen. And unlike its companion piece Grizzly, it needed a good transfer. After all, it’s filmed in glare-o-vision.
Rifftrax Version: 10 out of 10: Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy bring their A-game to a movie that provides plenty of opportunities.
Day of the Animals was certainly a movie where the boys could coast with all the ridiculousness on the screen (I am looking your way The Girl from Rio) instead they double down and do some fine work often pointing out ridiculousness that is not obvious to the casual viewer. My only disappointment was the lack of Barry Manilow during the lady thrown off the cliff by eagles scene. (No-one will be seated during the lady thrown off the cliff by eagle scene). Jon Cedar just stands there crying out Mandy. You can’t leave that sitting on the table guys.