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Film / Day of the Animals

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A movie for your shirtless-Leslie Nielsen-bear-wrestling needs.

There's no place to hide on... the Day of the Animals.

A 1977 nature horror film directed by William Girdler (Grizzly, The Manitou) and starring a pre-syndrome Leslie Nielsen.

A group of people take a backpacking trip through some mountainous terrain. Their timing is rather unfortunate, since the ongoing depletion of ozone layer has exposed the animals to higher doses of UV radiation, which has driven them mad. "Mad" as in "kill all humans mad".

This film has examples of:

  • Artistic License – Biology: In what is almost the last line of dialogue in the entire movie, it's stated that a 'virus' caused all the homicidal behavior by the animals. Not many viruses affect raptors, bears, cougars, dogs, rats, wolves, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, and New York Ad Executives in the exact same way.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: All of nature. Or at least the one residing in elevated terrain.
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  • Attempted Rape: Jenson, in his newfound alpha male fervor, decides to rape Beth since he "killed a man for her" and thus thinks he now owns her, leading to Bears Are Bad News.
  • Badass Bookworm: Mild-mannered, insightful anthropologist Professor MacGregor throws off a mountain lion that tackles him, then grabs a torch and uses it to help drive the lions back.
  • Bears Are Bad News: A bear makes a well-timed appearance to stop Jenson from raping Beth. He then tries to wrestle the bear, dying in the process.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Buckner, in spades. Every death from those in the group are, even if indirectly, his fault:
    • He fails to notice the danger they're in despite the strange behavior of the animals, including the continuous attacks, until it's too late.
    • He is not suspicious at all that they find a deserted campsite with the belongings of the campers all in there, and even during the nighttime and the following day, after wolves attacked his group and injured one of them, he chooses to ignore the fact that these missing people haven't returned.
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    • He continues to press on his original planned path rather than turn back and go to where he first sent Frank and Mandy, where there is a radio, buildings to hide out in, and is a shorter trek than the path he has the group take to reach civilization. This after the group discovers that the stash of food he had been leading them to has been ransacked by the animals.
    • He brings along absolutely no weapons or form of communication in case of an emergency.
    • And possibly the worst of all is, after Mandy has been attacked by wolves, he sends Frank and the injured Mandy on a different route all by themselves to find help for Mandy, despite the fact that they are his responsibility and they have absolutely zero survival skills or know-how of how to survive in the forest, which is, ironically, the very thing Buckner is paid to do and is supposed to be teaching them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Santee, after Jenson obnoxiously refuses his offer of a spear.
    Jenson: "Me no need Indian's spear. Me have spear. Me great warrior!"
    Santee: "Great New York Ad Executive speak with empty head!"
  • Doomed Hurt Guy: Mandy is bitten by a wolf and later dies when she is attacked by birds while heading back down the trail to get medical treatment. 
  • The End... Or Is It?: The film ends with the hawk that has seemingly been leading the animals flying at the screen, suggesting that danger is not over yet.
  • Failed a Spot Check: During the first leg of the cast's journey, they consistently fail to notice the various dangerous animals that are watching them at close proximity.
  • Ghost Town:
    • After an arduous journey out of the woods, Frank and the little girl who joined him on the way find the nearby town evacuated, with only animals and a couple of corpses in sight.
    • Also happens earlier when the campers find an abandoned and torn-apart camp with no sign whatever of the campers. This after encountering some oddly violent animals. They decide to stay there anyway.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Jenson kills Beth's boyfriend by impaling him with his walking stick.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight, in terms with onscreen characters. the kid (Bobby) in the group and the little girl Frank encounters both survive the movie.
  • Jerkass: Even before driven over the edge by the hotter-than-usual sunlight, Jenson acts like a total dick to everyone. To say he Took a Level in Jerkass as events progressed would be severely understating things, though.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Painful though it is to admit it, if the group had backtracked when Jenson first suggested it, they might have all made it back to civilization safely without anyone becoming animal chow or turning on and raping/murdering someone else.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Jenson gets killed by a bear when he tries to rape Beth after having murdered her boyfriend. Beth, however, survives the movie.
  • Left for Dead: Due to the relentless onslaught by a pack of dogs, two cast members are left for dead as the remaining ones flee for their lives.
  • The Nicknamer: Jenson refers to everyone by the nicknames he has given to them, "Hot Shot" for Buckner, "Kemosabe" for Santee, and so on.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: The virus that causes all the problems in the movie affects everything from mammals to avians to snakes the exact same way.
  • No Ending: The remaining survivors all hide out in a grounded helicopter, raft downriver to escape some killer dogs, or hide in a pickup at the end — and the animals all conveniently drop dead from the "virus". Save for the evil hawk, that is.
  • Opening Scroll: The film opens with text that tells about the depletion of the ozone layer, and how the events in the film are something "that might happen".
  • Pink Means Feminine: Two of the four women on the hiking trip (Beth and Shirley) wear pink beneath their hiking shirts.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: At his most unhinged, Jenson ultimately screams into the night complaining to God about why he always takes things away from him.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: When Frank finally makes it into civilization, he runs into two cars filled with snakes, the second one leading to his death.
  • Sanity Slippage: Jenson goes from being a snobbish, racist jerk to a complete psychopath.
  • Savage Wolves: As the cast sleeps, a lone wolf suddenly attacks Mandy and scars her face badly. This forces her and her husband Frank to split up from the others to get to the local forest ranger station.
    • A much bigger pack chases three of the survivors into a grounded copter before they (the wolves, that is) just up and die.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Don't deplete the ozone layer, or the extra solar radiation will mutate a virus and turn animals (and Leslie Nielsen) into homicidal maniacs.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: The climax sequence where the German shepards attack the survivors in a cabin. There's a debate as to whether they were meant to be loose search and rescue dogs affected by the radiation or stand-ins for wolves. Either way, if you look closely you'll see that they're happily wagging their tails and licking the faces of their "victims" to a soundtrack of menacing snarling and growling.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Jenson stops wearing a shirt when he and a couple others split from the main group.