Why settle for only one kind of animal running around wreaking havoc when you can have them all? That's my philosophy, anyway. It's a good thing the late William Girdler (the man behind such genre fare as Abby, Grizzly, and Three on a Meathook) feels the same way, for it is he who brought the world the 1977 every- animal-runs-amok-fest Day of the Animals.
As we all know, those Jersey girls and the spray they use in their high high hair have caused a massive hole in the earth's ozone layer. What Day of the Animals shows us, however, are the (possible, natch) startling repercussions of such wanton aerosol use: without the ozone layer to protect them from the sun's rays, all the animals at elevations above 5000 feet go totally cuckoo nutso and kill kill kill! Al Gore doesn't know whether to laugh or to cry.
A motley assortment of hikers (including super-70s husband and wife combo Christopher and Lynda Day George, Andrew Stevens, and Leslie Nielsen) ends up stranded in the Mountaintop Animal Death Zone and must fend off raving hordes of birds of prey, wolves, snakes, mountain lions, bears, and...uh, German Shepherds. With their limited supplies running out and their disparate personalities clashing, will they make it out alive?
While Day of the Animals largely consists of animals glaring whilst ominous music plays, it's not without its cheesy charms, the biggest of which is Leslie Nielsen, whose performance is worth the rental price alone.
Nielsen's racist ad exec is an absolute hoot to watch- he insults everyone, he shoves both women and children to the ground ("Get outta here, you cockroach, or I'll throw you off that cliff!"), he tries to rape Andrew Stevens's girlfriend, and then he kills Andrew Stevens when he's attempting to save his girlfriend from said rape. By the time Nielsen's bare-chested ozone rampage is finished, he's railing against God and wrestling bears in the rain.
When a swarm of rats leapt onto the sheriff's face, I wanted to marry Day of the Animals- and I did, in a quickie ceremony down at the Town Hall. Things were going great- Christopher George was punching dogs, people were falling off cliffs...I thought Day of the Animals and I would be together forever. But then...then the movie had to go and fuck things up with that ending. All the animals suddenly drop dead. They drop dead. THEY DROP DEAD! End of story- and the end of us as well, Day of the Animals. No one likes a cop out!
Still, though, flying rats and a bear-wrestling Leslie Nielsen...oh, who am I kidding. I can't hate you, Day of the Animals, but I really think we should just be friends. I give it 5 out of 10 torrid love affairs ending in ill-advised, short-lived marriages.