The Easter weekend obviously has its religious meaning but to the more secular among us, it’s really more about marking the beginning of Spring, sunnier weather, warmer temperatures and longer days. Sure, you could get outside more, but seriously, why not just do what you always do and stay inside to watch a movie?
But there are no scary Easter movies, you say. We beg to differ. Easter-approriate movies are out there beyond The Greatest Story Ever Told and Easter Parade, you need only look as far as the 10 scary rabbits and evil bunnies below.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
The Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
There’s nothing in the hat. – Uncle Walt’s magic trick is not exactly what you expect in Joe Dante’s portion of the 1983 anthology film based on the classic Twilight Zone series created by Rod Serling. Borrowing from the series’ well-known Nightmare as a Child episode, Dante’s outing sees the affable Helen drawn into a family home where everything’s off kilter. Little does Helen know that this is not young Anthony’s real family, but surrogates he forcefully recruited after killing his own family with his near infinite, God-like powers. As the coup de grace after dinner, Uncle Walt pulls a rabbit from the hat. But not just any old fluffy bunny, he pulls out a zany, Looney Tunes-esque stop-motion concoction from hell. It scares poor Helen enough to make Anthony start thinking that maybe he’s gone too far…
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Such flagrant bunny abuse will not be ignored. Fatal Attraction is about a successful New York lawyer named Dan who decides to celebrate having the house to himself for the weekend by having an affair. Unfortunately for him, the object of his limited desire was Alex, who can’t accept that Dan was in it for a good time, and not a long time. As part of an escalating series of violent outbursts, Alex targets Dan’s family, and in one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Dan’s wife Beth comes home to find a boiling pot on the stove. As Beth cautious approaches the pot we see her daughter Ellen run up to the coupe that houses her beloved rabbit. As Ellen cries to Dan that her bunny is missing, Beth takes the lid off the pot and finds *ahem* rabbit stew. Hollywood lore suggests a real dead rabbit was used in the scene, but it’s worth noting that aside from Alex in the film’s finale, the bunny is the only casualty in Fatal Attraction.
Watership Down (1978)
While not scary in a conventional sense, try not and be disturbed by this animated adaption of the classic Richard Adams novel. The story follows a group of rabbits that try to find a new home for themselves when the seer, Fiver, has a vision of their warren in the English countryside suffering an apocalypse. The rabbits’ quest to find a new sanctuary forces them to go through cats, dogs, hawks, hunters, farmers, death traps, and even other more vicious rabbits, which all adds up to something that looks like Disney version of the Donner Party. Heck, there’s even a rabbit Grim Reaper that appears to our heroes at a couple of key points in the film, including the end when leader Hazel, (voiced by John Hurt by the way), is ushered into the rabbit afterlife. Try not thinking about that when you take the kids to see Peter Rabbit!
Donnie Darko (2001)
This would not be a complete list of scary rabbits without the most famous imaginary “leporidae” sidekick since Harvey. Or is Frank imaginary? Filled with signs and portents, weird science and teenage angst, a likely imaginary man named Frank in an ill-formed black rabbit costume isn’t the weirdest thing in Donnie Darko. The vision of Frank not only gives Donnie a warning about the end of the world (sort of), but he bolsters in Donnie a new found attitude about exploring the mysteries of time, and casting off the latent hypocrisies of 1980s suburbia. Was Frank ever real? It’s an interesting question, for he might have been a manifestation of Donnie’s new found ability to see through time, or an alter that allowed Donnie to overcome his own shyness. On the other hand, maybe Donnie had a thing for messed up looking rabbit people.
Sexy Beast (2000)
Some people like hunting rabbits, but in Sexy Beast the rabbit hunts you. Well, sort of. In what might be described as Elmer Fudd’s worst nightmare, ex-convict Gary Dove, played by Ray Winstone, has a vision of a demonic rabbit man riding up to him on horseback, dismounting, and pointing a machine gun at him while he eats a nice meal. It’s like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly with a long-eared Grinch carrying an uzi, and while Ben Kingsley gets all due credit for his truly intimidating (and profanity-laden) performance as a London gangster, try and shake the image of that creepy looking rabbit with a killer instinct.
The Witch (2015)
When if comes to evil animals in Robert Eggers’ “conventional” (according to him) horror movie, The Witch, a lot of people focus on the goat Black Phillip, but what about the black hare? Young Caleb spots the bunny while out on an early morning hunt with his big sister Thomasin and he chases it even after the horse throws Thomasin off. When Caleb gets lost alone in the woods, he stumbles on a hovel and a young woman that lures him to come inside, which seems like the 17th century equivalent of eating Tide pods, an obvious danger, and you should probably know better, but you just can’t help yourself. But whose fault is it really that Caleb became prey to a witch? The black rabbit, of course!
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
While Monty Python is not exactly synonymous with horror, it’s hard to find a rabbit scene more gory then the one in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The titular quest leads Arthur and his knights to a cave guarded by the Rabbit of Caerbannog. Despite the somewhat vague but emphatic warnings by Tim the Enchanter, the Round Table knights are thoroughly unimpressed with their latest challenge, at least until Sir Bors is attacked and decapitated. The Rabbit of Caerbannog proves himself more than a match for the knights, and only the “Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch” is able to deal with the rabbit permanently. There’s a lesson here about not underestimating your opponent. There’s also a lesson that bunnies are bloodsuckers and killers, but that seems to get overlooked.
Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006)
There is a small, but surprising subgenre of slasher movies about people in bunny suits, but one of the better ones is Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! It is of a Rob Zombie mold, about hideous low lives who get their proper comeuppance and the one delivering it here is a killer in a bunny mask. It’s highly violent, highly disturbing, and will likely shade every future experience you have with contractors and power tools, but it does have a delightful twist in the end, not to mention a delightfully twisted ending. Not all killers in rabbit costumes are made in the same vein, but if you’re looking for a low-budget horror delight to counteract all those typically bright and cheerful Easter feelings, this is your remedy.
Night of the Lepus (1972)
A forgotten classic in the science creates big animals horror subgenre, but one that’s fascinating if for nothing else then being about giant mutant rabbits overrunning a small ranching town. In fact, Night of the Lepus makes a nice bookend with Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit because they’re both about using science to find a humane way to reduce the rabbit population, but they’re also about that process going horribly wrong. If you can’t buy the ludicrous concept, that’s fine because the pre-CG effects do nothing to help the suspension of disbelief. The effect of the over running horde of giant rabbits is achieved through a combination of close-ups, miniatures, green screen, and yes, humans in rabbit costumes. Unbelievable? Certainly! A terribly good time on an Easter weekend? Absolutely!