The legendary Berwyn/Chicago sci-fi/thriller classic feature film host will present his big coast-to-coast broadcast premiere of “Night of the Lepus” (1972), this Sat., Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on Me-TV.
The 1972 MGM sci-fi/thriller entry was directed by veteran film and television director William F. Claxton. Claxton directed four episodes of Rod Serling’s classic CBS television sci-fi/supernatural masterpiece series, “The Twilight Zone” from 1960–62. “Night of the Lepus” (1972) was produced by veteran film and television producer A.C. Lyles, who worked for rival studio Paramount Pictures. Lyles began his career at Paramount in the mailroom at the age of 10 in 1928, worked his way up to the advertising/publicity department, became a producer in 1957 and served as the studio’s unofficial historian/ambassador until his death at the age of 95 in 2014, according to Variety.
The screenplay for “Night of the Lepus” (1972) was written by veteran screenwriters Don Holliday and Gene R. Kearney. Holliday and Kearney’s screenplay was adapted from Russell Braddon’s sci-fi/thriller novel, “Rabbits.”
In Svengoolie’s home area of Berwyn/Chicago, Sven previously aired the Claxton-Lyles-MGM production of “Night of the Lepus” (1972) on his hometown television station, WCIU-TV/”The U” in Sept. 1995; according to IMDB.
Who was in “Night of the Lepus” (1972)?
The players who appeared in the William F. Claxton-A.C. Lyles MGM production of “Night of the Lepus” (1972) were Stuart Whitman (as Roy Bennett), Janet Leigh (as Gerry Bennett), DeForest Kelley (as Elgin Clark), Rory Calhoun (as Cole Hillman), Melanie Fullerton (as Amanda Bennett), William Elliott (as Dr. Leopold), Paul Fix (as Sheriff Cody), Inez Perez (as a housekeeper), Chris Morrell (as Jackie Hillman), Chuck Hayward (as Jud), Henry Wills (as Frank), Francesca Jarvis (as Mildred), Robert “Bob” Hardy (as Prof. Dirkson), Richard Jacome (as Deputy Jason), a cameo appearance by Jerry Dunphy (as a television news anchor) and G. Leroy “Roy” Gaintner (as Walker).
Janet Leigh appeared in numerous film and TV roles throughout her screen career. According to an original 1972 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer exhibitors’ pressbook on “Night of the Lepus,” Leigh made her feature film debut 25 years earlier at MGM in Roy Rowland’s romantic drama-comedy with Van Johnson, “The Romance of Rosy Ridge” (1947). Several of Leigh’s famous screen roles include her role of Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Paramount suspense-thriller masterpiece with Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles, “Psycho” (1960) and in the role of Rosie DeLeon in George Sidney’s Columbia classic screen musical adaptation masterpiece of “Bye Bye Birdie” (1963) with Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret, Paul Lynde, Bobby Rydell, Jesse Pearson and Ed Sullivan. The mother of actress-director-producer Jamie Lee Curtis, Leigh was married to actor Tony Curtis from 1951-62. Aside from his numerous roles in film and television, one of DeForest Kelley’s famous roles was his role of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in Gene Roddenberry’s classic Desilu/Paramount/NBC sci-fi masterpiece series with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, James Doohan and Walter Koenig (since 1967), “Star Trek” (the Original Series, from 1966-69). He reprised the role of Bones with his vocal talents in the Paramount/Filmation animated series adaptation, “Star Trek: The Animated Series” (1973-74). Kelley also reprised his role of Bones in the first six Paramount “Star Trek” feature film productions from 1979–91.
Stuart Whitman appeared in numerous film and TV roles throughout his acting career. He appeared in the role of Orvil Newton in Ken Annakin’s Twentieth Century Fox (Twentieth Century Studios) adventure comedy with Sarah Miles, Red Skelton and Benny Hill; “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines” (1965). Jerry Dunphy was a familiar face to television news viewers in Los Angeles, California. The veteran Los Angeles news anchor/journalist worked for stations KNXT/KCBS-TV, KABC-TV and KCAL-TV (formerly known as KHJ-TV) until his death in 2002.
Original working title for “Night of the Lepus” (1972)
According to IMDB, the original working title for William F. Claxton’s production of “Night of the Lepus” (1972) was “Rabbits.” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executives felt that the title was not suitable for a thriller production. Inspired by the success of George A. Romero’s classic zombie horror masterpiece, “Night of the Living Dead” (1968); MGM officials considered the name of “Night of the Lepers.” While reading the screenplay, an unknown studio executive accidentally spilled wine on the script; which caused MGM officials to decide on the title of “Night of the Lepus.”
The “rabbit” stunts in “Night of the Lepus”
According to David Kalat’s Turner Classic Movies online article on “Night of the Lepus” (1972), Claxton’s MGM production utilized pet rabbits in miniature sets. The rabbit group scenes were filmed in slow-motion. During certain attack scenes, a stunt performer in a rabbit costume performed the attack stunt sequences.
Janet Leigh’s disappointment with “Night of the Lepus” (1972)
It was reported that Leigh was disappointed in Claxton’s MGM rabbit sci-fi thriller production. According to additional information from Kalat’s TCM online article on “Night of the Lepus;” in later years, she claimed that she had forgotten entirely about the production of the 1972 MGM rabbit screen thriller.
Before “Night of the Lepus:” A.C. Lyles’ earlier discovery of DeForest Kelley
The MGM production of “Night of the Lepus” (1972) was not the first encounter of A.C. Lyles and DeForest Kelley. According to Larry Nemecek’s 2014 “Trekland” retrospective tribute article on A.C. Lyles for the official Star Trek website, Lyles helped promote young Kelley as one of the new Paramount contract actors in the late 1940s, when the future producer was a publicist for the studio. Lyles and Kelley were best friends until Kelley’s death in 1999.
MGM’s promotional tie-ins for the original theatrical screening of “Night of the Lepus”
MGM’s publicity department encouraged participating theaters who exhibited “Night of the Lepus” from coast-to-coast to have promotional tie-in campaigns for the feature. According to additional information from Kalat’s TCM online article, the studio encouraged exhibitors to promote the film with the “Go Get ‘Em Fright Kit” with “Lepus” pop art buttons and posters by teaming up with local colleges, discotheques (?) and shopping centers/malls to promote the film. MGM also sent a promotional “Night of the Lepus” record as part of the kit for disc jockeys from local radio to play, containing five minutes of the “Lepus” source sound effect creation.
For posters, advertisements and the original theatrical trailer of “Night of the Lepus,” MGM executives decided not to feature rabbits or mention rabbits in order to surprise theatergoers; according to additional information from IMDB.
Latter RiffTrax riffing of “Night of the Lepus” (1972)
***(For some sequences): Viewer discretion is advised.***
42 years after the original theatrical release of William F. Claxton’s MGM rabbit sci-fi thriller production of “Night of the Lepus” (1972), Claxton’s feature was later riffed by the “RiffTrax” crew of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” alums Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett. The RiffTrax edition of “Night of the Lepus” (1972) was released as a digital download on Feb.7, 2014; according to the official RiffTrax site.
Be sure to watch/record Svengoolie’s big coast-to-coast broadcast premiere of “Night of the Lepus” (1972), this Sat. on Me-TV!
A snippet from “Night of the Lepus” (1972). ***Viewer discretion is advised.***
With Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, DeForest Kelley, Rory Calhoun, Melanie Fullerton, William Elliott, Paul Fix, Inez Perez, Chris Morrell, Chuck Hayward, Henry Wills, Francesca Jarvis, Robert “Bob” Hardy, Richard Jacome, Jerry Dunphy’s cameo appearance and G. Leroy “Roy” Gaintner; you will not want to miss out on Svengoolie’s “Sven-cave” big coast-to-coast broadcast premiere of “Night of the Lepus” (1972), this Sat. on Me-TV! Hop away from stress and hop to the big broadcast airlanes with Sve and his extra fun facts, Doug Graves’ evening parody song, Kerwyn’s “home office” mail call and much, much more! A perfect treat for all fellow super SvenPals and fellow sci-fi/thriller enthusiasts everywhere with chills, thrills and laughs in terms of some of the visual effects! And be sure to say the phrase of one of Sven’s famous source soundbites of Nancy Cartwright’s vocalization of Mindy from “Animaniacs,” “Fuzzy Bunny!” You will not be disappointed! Highly recommended!
In the Frederick, Maryland/Washington, D.C. area: WTTG-5.3/Cable 196/FiOS 489/Antietam Broadband 194 (also on QAM digital 68.6 for Antietam subscribers)
In the Baltimore, Maryland area: WBAL-TV 11.2/Cable 208/FiOS 460
In the Hanover/Gettysburg/York, Pennsylvania area: WGAL-TV 8.2/Cable 248/FiOS 460
Join in on the fun by having fun and live-tweeting with all fellow super SvenPals everywhere via Twitter during #Svengoolie’s big Me-TV broadcast premiere of “Night of the Lepus” (1972) this Sat.!
To all fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals/fellow readers/fellow subscribers of “Silver Screen Reflections” everywhere: Please be kind, courteous, good, safe and respectful to each other. Put love in your heart. Let’s all look to uplifting/positive encouragement, enlightenment and wisdom from Svengoolie, all fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere, all fellow super Mystery Science Theater 3000/MST3K MSTies everywhere and all fellow classic film/television enthusiasts everywhere. Again, to all fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere; safety first, follow all precautions seriously, wash your hands for approximately 20 sec., wear a protective face mask/appropriate protective face covering, avoid touching your face, practice proper social distancing/physical distancing measures, use a sleeve/tissue when coughing/sneezing, stay home, keep healthy and stay well. Again, let’s all take preventative measures/steps by being safe, keeping healthy and staying well- and again, we fellow super SvenPals everywhere highly recommend watching Kerwyn’s informative coronavirus/COVID-19 prevention safety public service announcement! Escape from anxiety, stress and chaos by having fun and relaxing with Sven and his Sat. evening big broadcasts of classic monster/creature, horror and sci-fi feature film masterpieces on the airlanes of Me-TV! Join in on the fun with all fellow super SvenPals everywhere by live-tweeting through the airlanes of Twitter during Sven’s Sat. evening big broadcasts! Again, safety first, keep healthy and stay well, Sven/Mr. Rich Koz, the entire Sven/Me-TV production crowd & the entire crowd of fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere! And again, to quote Svengoolie’s executive producer; Jim Roche: “#KeepCalmAndWatchSven!” –C.H.
Svengoolie’s opening segment to his Sept. 1995 WCIU/”The U” Berwyn/Chicago big broadcast premiere of “Night of the Lepus” (1972), via fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal David Fuentes’ official “Terror From Beyond the Dave” YouTube channel!
In connection to DeForest Kelley: Watch/record DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in “Star Trek” (The Original Series), Sat. evenings at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central after Svengoolie’s big broadcast showcase on most Me-TV stations, part of “Super Sci-Fi Sat. Night!” And speaking of “Star Trek: TOS” and the “Star Trek” franchise, today marks the 54th anniversary of the debut broadcast of “Star Trek: TOS” (pilot episode “The Man Trap,” Sept. 8, 1966), happy “Star Trek Day” to all fellow super SvenPals/fellow super Trekkies everywhere! #LLAP (“Live long and prosper!”)
Extra! Extra! Extra! “Moving from ‘The U’ to CW 26:” Again, for our Chicago/Berwyn super SvenPals: the Sat. morning Berwyn/Chicago big broadcast repeat of Svengoolie’s big broadcast(s) will be moving from WCIU-TV 26.2/”The U” to WCIU-TV 26.1/CW 26 Chicago starting Sat. morning, Sept. 19 at 11 a.m. (local time)!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Limited quantities available! The official Svengoolie/Me-TV Sven “at-home” box activity gift set is still available for purchase through the official Sven/Me-TV online store site (contains a Sven three-dimensional cube puzzle, a Sven mini “magic doodle” sketch keychain to draw Sven and/or Kerwyn, a deck of Sven playing cards, the Sven “fun putty” egg/“crack me up!,” a Sven plastic spring toy/the “Svenkie,” the 100-piece Sven “It Came From Berwyn!” puzzle, the Sven “squishy bat” stress reliever/not connected to Sven’s former WCIU mail call sidekick, “Ed the bat;” Sven microwave popcorn and a 16-page Sven word jumble puzzle/crossword puzzle/”Svendoku” sudoku/joke/maze/trivia book! And again, to quote the official rule of the Sven/Me-TV online store, “no personal checks!” And only purchase authentic/official Sven & Me-TV items from the official Sven/Me-TV online store! And again, speaking of Me-TV’s recent promotion for the official Sven/Me-TV online store, “Halloween is a holiday too!” –C.H.
From Sven’s Berwyn dungeon studio set to your home studio dungeon set! Download Svengoolie’s Me-TV famous Berwyn dungeon “studio set” background (featuring Body Sorrell) for your favorite videoconferencing platform (Skype, Zoom, etc.), as part of Me-TV’s assortment of classic TV show backgrounds for online videoconferencing!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Cameo mentions of fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere jumped for joy as they recognized a recent Sven/Sven-style art mask creation on the airlanes of Twitter from one of our fellow super SvenPals! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Sarah Rhodes recently designed two new Sven safety mask designs, featuring a “Sven”-style skeleton art design, which was inspired by Sarah’s previous Sven mask art! She has reminded the entire crowd of fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals to stay safe, stay well and to keep healthy by practicing social distancing and wearing our protective masks! Sarah’s Sven mask art design was based off of a custom Sven skull sketch pattern element that was based off of one of her Sven skate design art creations! Zalman T. Tombstone is also jumping for joy about this with all of us fellow SvenPals! The inspiration for Sarah’s custom Sven protective mask art designs came from her custom Svengoolie skate artwork design, which debuted during Sven’s big June 1, 2019 big broadcast premiere of “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula” (1966) on Sven and Kerwyn’s “mail call” segment on Me-TV, along with Sarah’s cameo official Sven tee photo appearance with her Sven skate design(s)! Sarah’s Svengoolie skate artwork was created in commemoration of Sven/Rich Koz’s 40th anniversary in the Berwyn/Chicago big broadcast television airlanes and her Sven skate artwork design has appeared on Sven’s in-studio show segments from time-to-time since then!
Congratulations to Sarah from all of us fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere on your new Sven/Sven-style/Zalman T. Tombstone “skeleton” protective safety mask art designs on the airlanes of Twitter! We fellow super SvenPals are jumping for joy and we’re all proud of you! Keep up the wonderful and excellent work! Three cheers, two thumbs up, stay safe, stay well, keep healthy, peace, kudos,“Hi-Keeba” & a toast to Sarah and all fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere! –C.H.
Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere jumped for joy as they recognized a recent Sven/monster art creation on the airlanes of Twitter from one of our fellow super SvenPals! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Nanette Keir recently designed two drawings of Frankenstein’s monster, based off of Jack Pierce’s original “Frankenstein” monster make-up design for Boris Karloff’s portrayl of the monster in James Whale’s Universal mammoth monster classic masterpiece feature adaptation, “Frankenstein” (1931); along with a Svengoolie “Franken-Sven!” Her “Frankenstein” monster & “FrankenSven” monster designs were created by Nanette in commemoration of Aug. 31/”Frankenstein Day,” the birth of “Frankenstein” author Mary Shelley!
Congratulations to Nanette from all of us fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere on your “Frankenstein” monster and Svengoolie/”FrankenSven” monster designs in commemoration of Mary Shelley’s Birthday/”Frankenstein Day!” We fellow super SvenPals are jumping for joy and we’re all proud of you! Keep up the wonderful and excellent work! Three cheers, two thumbs up, stay safe, stay well, keep healthy, peace, kudos,“Hi-Keeba” & a toast to Nanette and all fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere! –C.H.
Extra! Extra! Extra! (At the 0:29 mark): Confirmed several days after Svengoolie’s Sept. 5 big Me-TV broadcast of the Jack H. Harris-Irvin S. Yeaworth classic sci-fi creature masterpiece, “The Blob” (1958); fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere jumped for joy as they recognized Sven tattoo art by one of our fellow super SvenPals! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Shannon, a.k.a. Mulva on the Twitter airlanes and her Svengoolie tattoo shin art, designed by James Eastwood of Pioneer Tattoo of Chicago was showcased on Sven’s “Sven Cave”/Kerwyn’s “home office” safety mail call segment for “The Blob” (1958)! Shannon/Mulva’s Sven tattoo art was based off of the Sven diagram art from the Sven “official chicken thrower” tee/hoodie/long-sleeved apparel items!
Congratulations to Shannon/Mulva from all of us fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere on the appearance of your Svengoolie tattoo on Sven & Kerwyn’s “mail call” segment during Sven’s big Sept. broadcast of “The Blob” (1958)! We fellow super SvenPals are jumping for joy and we’re all proud of you! Keep up the wonderful and excellent work! Three cheers, two thumbs up, stay safe, stay well, keep healthy, peace, kudos,“Hi-Keeba” & a toast to Shannon/Mulva all fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere! –C.H.
Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super SvenPals everywhere jumped for joy when fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Jamie Lee announced on the Twitter airlanes that classic “Jammin’ with Jamie” programs recently returned to the Berwyn/Chicago broadcast airlanes of Northwestern University Radio WNUR 89.3 FM and from coast-to-coast/around the universe on WNUR.org and/or the TuneIn app Sat. mornings at 6 a.m. Central/7 a.m. Eastern! Plus, Jamie announced that new/live”Jammin’ with Jamie” jam sessions might come back to the WNUR airlanes in a socially distant manner with new/live editions other WNUR programs in the near future! Stay tuned for official word and details from Jamie’s official Twitter site and/or website!
Extra! Extra! Extra! But wait, there’s more! Fellow super SvenPals also jumped for joy when fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Jamie Lee announced her upcoming appearances in several upcoming big virtual online broadcast adaptations of several theatrical productions! Jamie will be appearing in various roles in the upcoming live virtual theatrical adaptation of the World War II drama, “The Beams Are Creaking” on Sat., Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Central! Adapted from Douglas Anderson’s theatrical play on the true story of German priest and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who defied Hitler; the upcoming adaptation of “The Beams are Creaking” will be directed by John Haderlein and will be broadcast on the airlanes of YouTube!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Wait, wait, there’s more! Fellow super SvenPals also jumped for joy when fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Jamie Lee recently announced the official YouTube link for the Kirk Players’ upcoming radio-style drama short theatrical play adaptations! Jamie will be playing the role of the radio announcer in the Kirk Players’ upcoming online live big broadcast suspense-thriller radio play adaptations of “Love, Honor or Murder;” “The Horla” and “My Dear Niece!” According to Jamie’s official tweet, the Kirk Players’ online live big broadcast suspense-thriller radio plays will occur on Sat., Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern on the airlanes of YouTube!
Congratulations to Jamie from all of us fellow super “Jammin’ with Jamie” jammers and fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere on the return of classic “Jammin’ with Jamie” big broadcast jam sessions on the airlanes of WNUR, the upcoming return of live “Jammin’ with Jamie” jam sessions in the near future, your upcoming appearances in big broadcast online play adaptations of “The Beams are Creaking” and the Kirk Players’ classic radio thriller-drama-suspense play adaptations! We fellow super jammers and fellow super SvenPals are jumping for joy and we’re all proud of you! Keep up the wonderful and excellent work! Three cheers, two thumbs up, stay safe, stay well, keep healthy, peace, kudos,“Hi-Keeba” & a toast to Jamie and all fellow super “Jammin’ with Jamie” jammers and fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals everywhere! –C.H.
Extra! Extra! Extra! Help out one of our fellow super SvenPals’ friends: Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals: Be sure to give generously, spread the word/share the word to help one of the friends of fellow fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Jamie Lee. An updated GoFundMe site for Jamie’s friend has been established to help offset additional expensive medical/health-related costs. And again, additional information can be found through the official GoFundMe website of Jamie’s friend. Again, donate generously and spread/share the word to help Jamie’s friend. And again, any amount helps. -C.H.
In connection to “Night of the Lepus” (1972):
“Night of the Lepus” (1972) is also available on Blu-Ray disc from Shout! Factory and their “Scream Factory” imprint, mastered/transferred from Warner Bros.’ recent 2K restoration* of the 1972 MGM rabbit thriller, audio commentary from horror film/historian Lee Gambin and pop culture historian Russell Dyball plus a radio spot, the original theatrical trailer, the TV trailer and a photo gallery (by arrangement with Turner Entertainment Co./Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.)*. The 1972 William F. Claxton-A.C. Lyles-MGM rabbit thriller is also available on DVD through Warners’ “Warner Archive” line of classic/cult classic and hard-to-find films and TV series (from Warner Bros. & Warners’ ownership of the Turner/pre-1986 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer holdings, RKO Radio Pictures holdings, the Monogram/Allied Artists/Lorimar holdings and Seven Arts holdings)*. “Night of the Lepus” (1972) is also available for streaming from Warner Bros. through participating streaming/video-on-demand service providers*. The RiffTrax edition of “Night of the Lepus” (1972) is available as a digital download purchase from the official RiffTrax site (by arrangement with Turner Entertainment Co./Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.)*.
*Sidebar: Part of Warners’ ownership of the Turner Entertainment/pre-1986 MGM film, TV, cartoon and short subject holdings; Time Warner/the future Warner Media merged with Ted Turner’s media/cable properties in 1996; Turner purchased the aforementioned classic MGM holdings around summer 1986 after his brief ownership of MGM. -C.H.
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