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The best parts of this movie would be Lionel Atwill's over-the-top evil performance and the fairly clever method he uses. There is some genuine abuse of animals which is a little tough for the modern viewer so be forewarned.
Grisly pre-code tale of a jealous and murderous husband that uses mambas, alligators, lions, etc. to do his dirty work-though he isn't afraid to get his own hands involved in "sewing" more evil. Of course he eventually must be victim of poetic justice. Atwill often played evil characters effectively. There is also a bit of screwball comedy to mix in with the unexpectedly graphic scenes for 1933.
While you might be ethically disrupted by the grand finale wherein real lions savagely attack real leopards and cougars, you'll still thrill when Lionel Atwill's Pepe-le-Pew-esque borderline rapist character gets what's coming to him.
A completely over-the-top, zany horror comedy about a jealous zoologist who murders anybody who gets too close to his wife. Famous now only for the insane visual near the start of a man with his mouth sown shut (and showing how much you could get away with in pre-code Hollywood) and some rather disturbing scenes later on involving big cats, this isn't up there with the greats, but it is certainly very enjoyable.
Of note is Randolph Scott's solid performance and Charlie Ruggles' comedic performance. It's good to see Kathleen Burke as well, in just her second role, following The Island of Lost Souls. She plays it straight - none of the loopiness of the Lota, the Panther Woman here - but proves admirable enough.
Early classic horror and probably one of the most sadistic shockers of it's day. Lionel Atwill gives a tour de force performace whilst bumbling comic relief is provided by top-billed Charlie Ruggles. Ernest Haller's evocative cinematography is the highlight.
A bit of a forgotten gem. It's not the most original horror film of it's era, and it combines some elements of "Mystery of the Wax Museum" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue, but it's pre-code, so it's definitely one of the more graphic films of the time. Lionel Atwill plays a great villain, and he really makes you want to hate him. If you have a chance to find this one, and are a fan of 30's-40's horror, you should definitely check it out.
Great over-the-top thriller with an impressive cast pre-Code thrills, and a little too much comic relief.
Lots of nice melodrama and some ghoulish pre-code gore. Charlie Ruggles must have been a huge star to get top billing over everybody else in this all star serial killer movie.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
(1933) Murders In The Zoo
MURDER/ HORROR/ THRILLER
The idea of sewing someone's mouth together is quite disgusting except as far as I know this film was the first film to do it- that idea was later used on other things that followed! Already aware that much of Randolph Scott's reputation in films where he was always played some kind of hero or the person who's gotten first billing and was involved in alot of Westerns. Well, I was craving to see some of Scott's non Western films since I felt he was "typecasted" as the villian in "Virgina City" whenmuch of his roles was either as a good guy or as some sort of an anti- hero in much of his films! The film does not have much of a synopsis but was made as an excuse to showcase some grotesque ways of people killed by using zoo animals since the heroes of the film were not really introduced until nearly what "seemed" like halfway through the film! All it consists of, is basically a wealthy older unattractive overweight man disposing men he thinks is having affairs with his wife!
This film is, quite a milestone for more of these films that came after it, since the person who got top billing is the villian and not one of the the heroes this time! As a matter of fact the heroes hardly receive any screen time if any at all! My rating may change but this is all I'm giving it for now!
3 out of 4
Next on my list is Murders in the Zoo from 1933. This movie is really something. The movie stars Lionel Atwill and Charlie Ruggles along side starlets like Kathleen Burke and Gail Patrick. Kathleen Burke has also starred in The Island of Lost Souls while Atwill starred in Dr. X.
Eric Gorman, played wonderfully by Atwill, returns from a expedition in Indo-China, and brings back with him a number of vicious animals: lions, tigers, and a rare Green Mamba. The movie opens with Gorman gruesomely sewing a mans mouth shut and leaving him to die in the jungle. We learn that Eric Gorman's wife Evelyn Gorman (Played by the beautiful Kathleen Burke) has been cheating on him. This serves as the main motive of Eric Gorman's killings. He doesn't kill by his own hands though. He uses his animals and makes the deaths look accidental.
The movie is directed by Eddie Sutherland, a comedy director by trade, he brings a ton of laughs in the form of a recovering alcoholic. This character is a perfect comic relief to contrast the viciousness of the animals and Gorman himself. The movie is also Pre-Code which means that the film has no boundary's about what can be talked about. They actually talk about "Making Love" which is unheard of in its day and age.
The movies deaths are all at the hands, or paws, of animals. Tigers, mamba's, alligators, and *SPOILER* for Mr. Gorman himself, an anaconda. They are all equally brutal save for the tiger who we only hear about.
I am safely going to give this movie a 6 of 10. It has a few flaws, mostly the running time, which is about 15 minuets too short. The movie is extremely creative but it just feels like it sags in certain areas. Rent the film if you are a classic horror fan.
Why is it that everyone smokes in these movies? The most common line in all of these is "Would you like to have a cigarette?" weird.
The movie was made by Paramount Pictures and sold to Universal for distribution
Has not yet been released on DVD
Animals actually fought each other for the finale of the film.