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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Murders in the Zoo (1933) - Edward Sutherland


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. 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. 

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