Day Of The Animals: Special Edition [Blu-ray]
(Leslie Nielsen, Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaeckel, Andrew Stevens, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1977) 2021 / Severin Films)
Overview: A battle for survival ensues after a group of hikers encounters a chemically imbalanced forest.
Blu-ray Verdict: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the wilderness, director William Girdler and producer Ed Montoro sought to top their surprise blockbuster Grizzly with a bigger budget, larger cast, and even more nature-gone-berserk carnage!
When a hole in the Earths ozone layer triggers bloodthirsty madness throughout the animal kingdom, all mankind - particularly a group of tourists on an overnight hike - will become their prey.
Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaeckel, Michael Ansara, Andrew Stevens and Leslie Nielsen - in his now-legendary pre-AIRPLANE! performance that is "worth the price of admission alone" (DVD Talk) - star in "one of the most outrageous offerings the drive-in has ever known" (Pop Matters), now featuring a 2K scan from the internegative and howling with Special Features produced exclusively for this edition.
A motley crew of whining city-slickers on vacation traverses the wilderness at altitude under the watchful eye of guide George and his faithful American Indian companion Ansara, until the animals that inhabit the region turn rabid.
Despite its ominous prediction, Day of the Animals remains a fairly low-key action thriller, tame by both the genre and Girdlers standards.
Director Girdler continues to promote a perverted conservation agenda by using animals to inflict the natural worlds revenge on mankinds neglect, highlighting the message he more vaguely introduced in Grizzly.
Much of the same personnel were employed for this outing, although his earlier success with the predecessor allowed him to boost his acting stocks, resulting in a veritable sampler plate of character actors and B-grade leads (Ansara, Neilsen, Mantee, Roman and Barnes in addition to the return of leading men George and Jaeckel).
As the characters succumb to the harmful rays caused by damage to the ozone layer, they engage in strange and in some instances, downright absurd behavior - Cedars hallucinations and violent mood swings while Nielsen goes "nutsville" first murdering one of his stricken companions, then sexually assaulting the victims wife, and in a corny contest, going mono-a-mono with a towering Grizzly bear (which for me was the films crowning highlight).
There is a lot of time devoted to the carbon emissions debate and the impact of mankinds toxic lifestyle on the earths fragile atmosphere, well ahead of the populist campaign. Had Girdler lived longer, perhaps this message would have become more prevalent in mainstream films, such was the momentum and success he was building up to his untimely death.
Photography is a highlight and while the film employs the tired disaster movie formula, the real stars are still the hawks, cougars, bears, dogs, rats and the rest of the menagerie that turn on the 70s star-studded cast in some well-staged attacks. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs that comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary with Lee Gambin, Author of Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film
Animal Boy Interview with Actor Bobby Porter
Against Nature Interview with Actor Andrew Stevens
Unleashed Interview with Stunt Coordinator Monty Cox
Something Was Out There: Day of the Animals 30 Years Later Archival
Making Of DAY OF THE ANIMALS Featurette