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Film / Day of the Animals

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A movie for all of 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-Airplane! Leslie Nielsen along with Christoper George, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaeckel, Kathleen Bracken, Michael Ansara, and Ruth Roman.

A group of people take a backpacking trip through some mountainous California terrain. Their timing is rather unfortunate, because the ongoing depletion of the ozone layer has exposed wildlife to higher doses of UV radiation at high altitudes, which has apparently driven the animals mad. As in, "kill all humans" mad. And it affects humans, also...

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.
    • In a much smaller way, it's probably impossible for Jenson to have ripped open a man's rib cage to remove his heart and stick on a stake. He would've had to have bisected his body to reach up to the chest cavity if he didn't try breaking his rib cage apart. It's just not very realistic given the materials he had along with him that he was somehow able to tear into the body enough to remove his heart completely intact. However, the movie excuses it due to Rule of Scary, so...
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: All of nature. Or at least the one residing in elevated terrain.
  • 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.
  • Casting Gag: Susan Backlinie, best known for playing the first victim of the shark in Jaws, plays Mandy Young. Just like Jaws, she is the first member of the cast to be killed.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted; Santee is the only non-white major character, being a Native American, and he survives to the end, though he does come close to death during the attack by a pack of German shepherds.
  • 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.
    • 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!"
  • Deus ex Machina: Shortly after railing at God about not getting what he wants unless he takes it by force, and then driving the point home by attempting to rape Beth (on top of having already staked her boyfriend to death), Jensen is set upon and mauled by a bear.
  • Disney Death: Mandy is killed when she is attacked by a flock of large predatory birds who pull her off the side of a cliff.
  • 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 not only still alive but flying at the screen, suggesting that danger is not over yet.
  • Fan Disservice: Leslie Nielsen spends the latter half of the film shirtless, and kill-and-rape-happy deranged.
  • 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.
  • Feathered Fiend: A golden eagle is seen stalking the group numerous times and is leading the animal revolt, it's squawks acting as orders to attack.
  • 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.
  • Green Aesop: The film's Opening Narration makes clear that the film's events are to blame on mankind depleting the ozone layer.
  • Hellish Copter: An off-screen example; the surviving members of Jensen's group happen upon a crashed helicopter with several dead birds stuck in the engine's air intake and surrounded by the dead half-eaten bodies of the crew. While the main rotor and tail boom, along with the tail rotor, were destroyed in the crash, the cabin survived and provides adequate shelter when the group are set upon by a pack of wolves.
  • 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, though they are in danger numerous times.
  • 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.
  • Large Ham: Leslie Nielsen as Jenson. The man delivers an incredibly deranged Rage Against the Heavens rant like nobody's business.
  • 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".
  • Peekaboo Corpse: Occurs twice;
    • The first is downplayed by Frank and the unnamed little girl he rescues coming across a military truck that has it's horn blaring non-stop. He opens the door only for the dead driver to suddenly fall out.
    • The second time is played straight; the survivors of Jensen's group, stuck in a downed helicopter, notice that the angry pack of vicious dogs has become usually quiet. Mrs. Goodwyn opens one of doors on the chopper, only to be startled when the dead body of a cougar falls off the chopper's roof.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Two of the four women on the hiking trip (Beth and Shirley) wear pink beneath their hiking shirts.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Jenson was already a raging Jerkass before the sun drives him mad, evidenced by all the racist microaggressions he aims at Santee, who is Native American. You're basically rooting for the bear when by the time the movie gets to Jenson's death scene.
  • 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. Frank briefly has one as well, snapping at the little girl and leaving her alone, though her crying snaps him out of it and makes him realize how low he had stooped to treat her that way.
  • 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Frank and the little girl find themselves trapped inside a Ford Bronco that won't start by a pack of vicious dogs, though Frank's Volkswagen is close by. He not-so-wisely leaves the protection of the truck and does make it to his car, only to be bitten by rattlesnakes that were waiting and savagely mauled to death by aforementioned dogs. To make it even worse, a military rescue/hazmat team walking through the town happen upon the little girl inside the Bronco only hours later.
    • The dog attack at the cabin is particularly frustrating as the dogs attack, then seem to have been driven off by the group, but they wait a grand total of ten seconds before deciding the dogs are gone and they should now go somewhere else. Guess what happens after that?
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Inverted; Upon making it back to the abandoned town, Frank is so relieved to be back in civilization that he is overjoyed at the sight of a 1948 Chevrolet 3100 pick-upnote , even declaring it the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. To be fair, he had witnessed several horrible things in the woods, including the death of an injured women he was tasked with getting help for.
  • The Voiceless: The little girl that Frank rescues never says a word, communicating solely through facial expressions. The only sound she makes is crying.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Jenson stops wearing a shirt when he and a couple others split from the main group.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Roy and Professor Mac Gregor are mauled to death by feral German shepherds, Buckner, Terry, and Daniel find themselves floating down a river holding onto the sides of a raft that two of the German shepherds have managed to climb on top of. Once they reach the bridge with a rescue crew, the dogs have vanished and it's never said what happened to them.
  • The X of Y: "The Day of the Animals."