Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Murders in the Zoo (1933)

Dir: A. Edward Sutherland
Universal DVD

This is part of the Universal Vault Collection that was made available to purchase only through the Turner Classic Movies website. It was clearly a response to Warner Brothers vault collection that produces DVDr's on demand for films that would not sell well in retail stores. I expected the discs to come in a bare bones package and the discs themselves to be on the purple-backed DVDr, so I was pleasantly surprised when I received (after a couple months of waiting) a very nice box with five silver discs. Each disc containing a lesser known Universal horror film with what promotional material from the original release that could be found added on as special features. First up is Murders in the Zoo, which was the only film not actually produced by Universal and the only pre-code film in the set. It's about a big game hunter (played by Lionel Atwill with a psychotically jealous streak when it comes to his wife (the striking Kathleen Burke). The film opens with it's most gruesome image, a man with is mouth sewn shut, so don't expect too many more shocks after that. There are plenty of murders though as Atwill uses various animals to cover-up his homicidal tendencies. He even tries to off a young Randolph Scott who works at the zoo. It's a good movie but unfortunately a good portion of it's very short run time is used up by the "comic" relief of top-billed Charles Ruggles who plays a press agent for the zoo that's afraid of the animals! How wacky. It's definitely not the reason to buy the set but certainly not a deterrent either as it's one of the only films currently available with Ms. Burke in the cast.


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