NASTY RABBIT (1964)
Article 1941 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-8-2006
Posting Date: 12-5-2006
Directed by James Landis
Featuring Michael Terr, Arch Hall Jr., Liz Renay
A Russian spy bearing a rabbit with a vial of deadly bacteria arrives at a dude ranch with the intent of destroying America by releasing the rabbit on the continental divide. He must contend with a cadre of intercontinental counter-espionage agents and a rock-and-roll singer who is really a secret agent as well.
You know, it’s a bit of a shame that Arch Hall Jr.’s best known movie is EEGAH; as far as I can tell from having seen that movie, THE SADIST, and this one, he got better as he went along. Not that his performance was better here than it was in THE SADIST (his previous movie), but then, THE SADIST gave him both a better character and a better script. Here he manages to rise above the material somewhat (something he failed to do in EEGAH), and he comes across as cool and confident, and though he’s mostly a straight man, he manages his few comic bits with a greater degree of skill than the other performers in the movie. Granted, it doesn’t save the movie itself; this compendium of frenetic subpar slapstick and broad ethnic caricatures is desperately unfunny. The cast does have some interesting names, though; this is the sole acting credit for Michael Terr (alias Mischa Terr), who worked behind the scenes in a musical capacity on a number of genre features. Richard Kiel pops up as a ranch foreman who makes sure that dwarf Jack Little does not shirk his calf-roping duties. Award-winning cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs appears as an idiot who intends to make the rabbit his meal. It’s interesting that the cinematography was handled by another award-winning cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond. Out of curiosity, I looked up joint ventures between these two men, and found that they had worked together in some capacity on an interesting assortment of films, including THE TIME TRAVELERS, THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES!!? and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.