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The Worst Hiking Film of All Time: ‘Day of the Animals’ Is So Bad You Have to See It

Day of the Animals is the Worst Hiking Film of All Time
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This fauna fever dream is a cringe-fest of epic proportions.

Have you ever wanted to see a shirtless, power-mad Leslie Nielsen wrestle a bear in the rain? Then folks, the 1977 film Day of the Animals is for you. When a hole in the ozone layer causes animals to attack every human in sight, a group of hikers and a nearby mountain town find themselves beset with everything from snakes to cougars and vultures.

Released 2 years after the runaway success of Jaws, Day of the Animals was an attempt to cash in on the red-hot “Natural Horror” craze. But while Spielberg gave us a rubber shark and “Smile, you son of a bitch,” this low-budget turkey offers clumsy storytelling, uncomfortable dialog, and an environmental message (while well-intentioned) so poorly handled as to be almost laughable.

Oh, no – I’m still making it sound a bit fun, aren’t I? But even taken as a B-movie artifact, Day of the Animals is a slog.

Worst Hiking Film: ‘Day of the Animals’

How did ‘Day of the Animals’ Get Made?

Blame Grizzly. One of the most successful rip-offs to pop up in the wake of Jaws, this stinker netted more than 40 times its production budget for director William Girdler and producer Edward Montoro.

A year after Grizzly’s release, the pair headed to the wilderness again. Actors Christopher George and Richard Jaeckel returned for Day of the Animals, along with the former’s co-star and spouse, Lynda Day George.

But the strangest addition is Nielsen. You know, the charming silver-haired goofball from classics like Airplane! and The Naked Gun.

Those films came later, however. In 1977, the eventual Frank Drebin had yet to land his first comedic role. Here, Nielsen is deathly, uncomfortably serious, like an ill-tempered uncle when the beer starts to run low.

The Characters Are Just the Worst

But it’s not just Nielsen that’s unlikeable; it’s the entire hiking party. The characters are annoyingly on-the-nose, with a mishmash of city-slicker whining and eye-rolling portrayals.

Within 10 minutes, you’ll be rooting for the hawks, mountain lions, and snakes that show up like stock-footage threats lurking at the edge of each scene.

There are, however, some real critters to be found. Several large birds serve as antagonists, along with a trained wolf and bear. But for the most part, the menace is portrayed via disconnected shots of animals roaring or squawking into the lens.

Making the Best of a Bad Thing

You know the best way to enjoy a bad film? Spread the misery around. And this past summer, the veteran movie-mockers at Rifftrax released their version into the wild.

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy (formerly of Mystery Science Theater 3000) eviscerate this film from the opening credits on. Their comedic stylings go a long way toward making Day of the Animals watchable, especially by mocking some of the attitudes and dialog that have, let’s just say, aged less than gracefully.

So, if you’re looking to see an entire hiking party get caught up in an eco-catastrophe with claws, don’t watch this film.

Seriously, hunt up something like Annihilation or maybe The Edge if you want to see Anthony Hopkins cuss out a bear. But if you must subject yourself to one of the worst outdoor movies of all time, Day of the Animals is as bad as it gets.

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