Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day of the Nielsen

If we continue to damage the ozone layer, the following will happen:

That’s right. Leslie Nielson will shirtlessly hug a bear and rats will be thrown at your face.
In other words, rev up your camping gear kiddos! It’s time to experience Day of the Animals.
Quick Plot: A touristy hike through the mountains gets moving, filled with an assorted group of white people and one Native American. Though the landscape is lovely, the paying customers get a trip that wasn’t on the brochure when some chemical imbalances cause the region’s wildlife to gang up and declare open season on all humans.

Boy do I love animalsploitation. Socially relevant AND adorable. Day of the Animals takes a cue from Frogs and knows that a good killer wilderness film is a diverse killer wilderness film, and thusly do we get a nice assortment of killer rodents, mountain lions, wolves, dogs, rats, and very many birds.

But really, let’s address the main reason Day of the Animals still gets talked about in film and teenage girl circles: shirtless Leslie Nielsen wrestles a bear. He also attempts rape and acts like the most raging “hate this guy” character I may have ever seen onscreen, but because it’s Frank Drebin, that is completely okay. Watching him insult and literally throw annoying children down mountains is a plus, plain and simple.

His ghost can babysit my phantom children any day.

There’s actually a surprisingly amount of poor child-rearing, which makes for (again) an inappropriately enjoyable little film. A subplot involves a little Them!-like girl who shuffles through the wilderness and ghost town with a man who has just about no idea how to treat a kid. Nielsen refers to his bratty companion as a “little cockroach” on multiple occasions. For whatever reason, these things made me quite happy.
High Points
Day of the Animals introduces a pretty large group of victims, but it does a surprisingly good job of making each character memorable enough to care of at least acknowledge their deaths. We don’t necessarily know all their names, but we know exactly who they are, even when they’re stuck under a pack of wolves

Lynda Day George’s Terry isn’t the beacon of feminism, but it’s nice to see a woman helping out to beat off a band of angry mountain lions
Low Points
...only to spend the next major attack scene standing in a corner with her hands over her face, then wining about how she can’t swim when survival moves down to the river
It’s a shame that the sound quality is so awful as to muffle much of the dialogue. It’s a bigger shame that the DVD inexplicably is sans subtitles
Lessons Learned
When the going gets tough, the tough order pineapple pie with ice cream on top
An ideal solution to disciplining children is to threaten to scalp them

Rats are adorable, even when being thrown at your face

The Winning Line
“I use my head all the time. A lot of people use their butts.”
I know he’s dead, but I’m just saying: Leslie Nielsen can use his butt on me whenever he feels like it

I own my copy of Day of the Animals (it shares a three-room box with Grizzly and Devil Dog) and without question, I’ll put it on as background noise sometime in the future. It’s an enjoyable and goofy lil ‘70s treasure filled with about zero scares but high camp, though in fairness, it’s also a whole lot more competent than some of its dreadfully awesome peers (Frogs and Food of the Gods come to mind). Leslie Nielsen fans owe it to themselves to see him play the baddie, plus, did I mention he wrestles a bear?


  1. It is a fact that shirtless Leslie Nielsen is a good reason to watch a movie, but shirtless Leslie Nielsen + Bear Wrestling means that I must locate a copy of this asap!

  2. I have the same box, but haven't gotten to this one yet. Sounds like it'll be a good time, Nielsen butt and all.

  3. Emily, you're a gal who knows her priorities.

    Man Mike, were there really a Nielsen butt, it'd immediately leap to the very top of my list. I'll take a ruggedly hairy chest instead.

  4. This sounds awesome, Nielson insulting kids too, how have I never heard of this?

  5. I don't know Aimee, but I like to think your life is about to improve!

  6. >>it’s nice to see a woman helping out to beat off a band of angry mountain lions

    I see what you did there, and I have to believe it was intentional. ;)

  7. What do you--

    Oh yeah. It was TOTALLY the reason why I wrote the whole review! (whistles casually...)

  8. Holy crap, while I am very well aware of Day of the Animals, I had no idea it was THAT awesome!! I actually have been wanting to get my grubby 'paws' on the Animal 3 pack and have been kicking myself for not picking it up when I saw it at a store sometime back. I already have Grizzly, but shit, Day of the Animals is certainly where it's at! Leslie Nielsen, for the win.

  9. I know Matt. He truly was a dashing man, even when he was attempting to rape women or threatening to kill small children.