Death By Cinema – 12 – Day of the Animals

“If I must just choose the method of my demise, I choose…

Britt

Death By Cinema!” -Britt Rhuart

Day 12 – Day of the Animals

No long intro for this particular review, simply because I know next to nothing about this film. I bought it on a whim at a swap meet for a buck, because, “hey an exploitation film I don’t have for a buck… that works.” I also know this movie feature Leslie Nielsen in a dramatic role, still previous to the launch of his comedic career in Airplane. I have no expectations for this film for or against, so let’s check it out.

Random Thoughts While Watching the Film:
We start with a text crawl about the potential of the ozone being depleted. I have a few problems with the text. First off, it’s really science-y, which for a film like this is unnecessary. Second, the text goes too quickly, so it’s hard to read and digest the text in the amount of time allotted. Lastly, it just seems really preachy. Now, I’m a big environmentalist and believe in climate change science and man’s involvement in it, but it just shoves it down your throat.
We begin with a group of people starting on a hike in the mountains. Unfortunately, we arrive like halfway through the scene, so it’s just kinda awkward.
Maybe it’s just the film quality, or the quality of the DVD, but there’s fading all over the picture and no one seems to be able to white balance the camera.
Man, the lighting is just rally awkward, I know it’s all outdoors, but things like faces are way too overly shadowed and it’s weird.
You know, I will say one nice thing, the nature shots, particularly from the helicopters, are really pleasant to see.
We get the first sense of unease as a buzzard and hawk (I think, I’m no ornithologist), land menacingly next to a kid on the hike.
Actual line: “God sent a plague down on us because we’re just a bunch of no good fellers.”
There’s a news report about the ozone being depleted, saying it was an emergency especially in higher ground… like the mountains. Most of the people assume it’s a hoax like War of the Worlds.
You know, none of the characters are really unique or interesting, so I don’t see why I should care when most of them die. The only vaguely okay ones are the little boy, the sheriff, and Leslie Nielsen, but that’s just because I can identify those characters, not because they are particularly intriguing. Nielsen is very underutilized thus far.
The night scenes are also badly shot. I guess they shot the whole thing with natural outdoor light, but unlike a film like Barry Lyndon, the cinematography is really lazy and the lighting is just terrible. Like I said, this particularly stands out in the night scenes, where we can only see the characters by firelight. And God help you if the characters step away from the fire.
Damn, 30 minutes in and I’m still waiting for an animal to be anything more then ever so slightly menacing.
Finally, a wolf attack happened and… no one died? Boo! Rip-off! I demand blood!
Oh, jeez, they just revealed Leslie Nielsen’s character is racist against Native Americans and there’s a Native American in the group. It would have been better if we had received that info near the beginning of the film.
Bad foley! Seriously, the sound in this film is not great, it often sounds like the characters are muttering.
Oh, damn that woman’s being attacked by birds! I mean really, vultures and hawks are really clawing at that poor actress (who I now realize is the chick who died at the beginning of Jaws!).
I gotta say, the terrible blue screen effect of the woman falling off the cliff to the rocks below and the man helping her yelling, “Mandy!” like he’s channeling William Shatner yelling, “Khan!” might be one of the more unintentionally funny things I’ve seen so far this month.
BTW, I’m no scientist, but would a drop in the ozone layer really cause animals to go crazy and start killing people? I doesn’t seem like scientific fact to me, though it would weirdly explain the animals on the continent of Australia trying to kill everything.
The film went all slo-mo for a second and I’m not entirely sure why.
Even though his character development came a bit late, I think Nielsen’s character is a solid antagonist.
This pack of rats jump out and attack the sheriff. I don’t really know, can rats really jump that high and far?
Here’s a mountain lion attack, but because of bad cinematography, bad lighting and bad editing, we don’t really see anything. I think that’s kinda the point though.
You know, I never realized, Leslie Nielsen had a solid body. I guess I was just always used to seeing him as a silly old man.
And Nielsen turns into a potential rapist and definite murderer almost out of nowhere and the only question I have is, where did they get the money for a crane shot.
Nielsen is really overacting, but my God if he’s not fascinating to watch. And yup, his character is a rapist now.
I gotta say, the rain scenes are really interesting and well done, especially with the lightening effects. It really raises the tension.
Why is Leslie Nielsen wrestling a bear?!? His character isn’t even a pussy about it, he just chargers that bear. And it’s a real bear and real Leslie Nielsen. Dude, that’s awesome.
There’s a whole subplot surrounding this one guy from the group finding his way down the mountain on his own and finding a little girl. It’s one of the more interesting parts of the story, just because I hope the little girl’s gonna be okay.
The scene of this angry dog killing the man and the little girl being trapped in the car reminds me of a bad version of Cujo. Still effective, just not good.
A pack of wild dogs traps a group in a helicopter. Unfortunately, none of them know how to fly a helicopter. Again, a Cujo scene.
So, almost out of nowhere, all the animals just die. That’s a nice bit of Deus Ex Machina. Also, apparently the ozone levels are normalizing. Then everything just kind of… ends.

This film was… alright. It’s certainly not a good film, but it’s not overly bad either. There were some really nice things about it. The animal attacks all looked real, because they pretty much were, albeit under controlled conditions. The tension was kept high throughout. The setting was glorious. The rain scenes were well done. Leslie Nielsen was a magnificent bastard. However, every other aspect of the film was bad. The writing and the characters, outside of Nielsen were bland. The technical elements, such as cinematography, sound, editing and lighting were all an uneven mess. The film was unbearably slow when the animals weren’t attacking. The ending was lame. Overall, this is a film I can’t say I liked, but I can’t say I hated this film either. It just exists.

Tune in tomorrow for my review of Fire Maidens of Outer Space!

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