The Chinese calendar may claim 2001 as the Year of the Snake, but in Hollywood, it’s the Year of the Rabbit—the very evil rabbit. Last summer’s Sexy Beast saw Brit baddie Ray Winstone haunted by nightmares of a gun-toting hare; in the new Donnie Darko, the title character is tormented by a rabbit-suited doomsayer; and posters for Steve Martin‘s Novocaine feature a stuffed rabbit with ghoulish dentures (below). They follow in a long tradition of bad-ass bunnies, from the giant hares in 1972’s Night of the Lepus to the toothy critter in 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail. So why all the floppy-eared fury? ”Rabbits are these harmless, innocent, fragile creatures,” says Darko director Richard Kelly, who was inspired in part by the ’70s novel and film Watership Down. ”So there’s an irony in making them your monster.” Unless, of course, you’re Elmer Fudd.