Another crazed animal movie from director William Girdler (who provided audiences with surprise smash-hit, Grizzly, in the previous year), this time the man is providing us with his version of The Birds.
It’s all to do with the depletion of the ozone layer, sending animals in the higher territories a bit mad and putting people in immediate danger. Which is all kinds of nuisance for the group being led on a trek by Steve Buckner (Christopher George, another member of the Grizzly squad). Things start off with a pesky bird attack but swiftly develop into a situation full of . . . . . . . . . more bird attacks, people being pelted with rubber rats and tail-wagging (but apparently furious) dogs getting all bitey.
If you watch Day Of The Animals as a serious eco-horror then you’ll be quite disappointed. Christopher George is okay, as is Michael Ansara, but the rest of the cast often fall a bit short of the mark, including the animal performers.
Girdler fails to create any tension, he’s not helped by the script from William W. Norton and Eleanor E.Norton, and the movie is almost too dull in places to make it worth your while just getting to the end.
If you watch Day Of The Animals as a comedy, however, then you will get some chuckles. Ruth Roman plays a stereotype, Leslie Nielsen goes deliriously over the top and those rubber rats are very funny.
Trying, and failing, to create a sense of growing horror with both a man vs nature theme and also a man vs man story strand, this movie would like to be some kind of hybrid of Lord Of The Flies and The Birds but fails resolutely to pack the punch of either.
The cast (also including Lynda Day George, the wife of Christopher, and Richard Jaeckel, another name from the Grizzly group) gamely go along with the material but can’t really do anything to elevate it. Pretty poor.
DIRECTOR: WILLIAM GIRDLER
STARS: CHRISTOPHER GEORGE, LESLIE NIELSEN, MICHAEL ANSARA, LYNDA DAY GEORGE, RUTH ROMAN, RICHARD JAECKEL
RUNTIME: 97 MINS APPROX