Sunday, October 16, 2011

MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933) - a jealous husband lets the animal kingdom do the dirty work for him

Boy, the zoo is fun…especially the monkeys. Yeah, it’s interesting and educational to learn about the habitat of the flying squirrel (or lack there of, cause he's always flying around), or the mating habits of the snapping turtle (you know, that's probably best left unlearned). However, none of these guys compare to the monkeys (or gorillas, or orangutans, or whatever), for one simple reason: they are sort of furry versions of people. It’s hard to empathise with an iguana, but I have no trouble empathising with Bobo the African monkey, even though he is a foreigner. Why, people have even remarked that I bounce around like a gorilla when I dance (which rarely occurs, and it when it does, it is done with shameful reservation). Surely that proves that man and ape are closely related.

So intrigued I am by those furry pseudo-humans that I have attempted to bond with them, perhaps overstepping my bounds in the process. I even went so far as to learn sign language, and started signing the monkeys at the zoo, hoping at least one of them had been involved with Project X at some point (or whatever it’s called now; I’d email Matthew Broderick and get my facts straight, but he seems like a big Hollywood hotshot now). I tried signing out “no bananas for you ever again”, as I usually try to initially get to know people by employing humor. Lo and behold, I noticed a gorilla breaking out in desperate tears. I was initially amazed, but this quickly turned to guilt. It was then that I realized that the sense of humor of a monkey is not necessarily as refined as that of a human. In an attempt to make up for it, I went and bought a banana split sundae and came back and handed it to him. Never have tears dried so quickly. In fact, my position as a mortal enemy had quickly flipped, and I was now a friend for life. So, speaking from experience, if you want a monkey to like you, just buy him or her a banana split sundae. This also works with portly humans that have low self esteem.

Well, Lionel Atwill is a big game hunter and millionaire who donates some exotic animals to a brand new zoo that is opening. He is also extremely jealous, and when he finds out that some dude was fooling around with his wife, he sews the guy’s mouth shut. This homicidal jealousy continues through to the opening of the zoo, and Lionel kills several people using his exotic animals; both because it covers his ass, and also because he identifies with these animals and their lack of conscience. They kill because they have to in order to survive and don’t feel like pricks afterwards. Of course, I might point out that this is a major attribute that makes man better than his zoo kept counterparts, and a major reason I felt compelled to give a banana split sundae as a gift. So, he’s probably just an asshole that wants to kill people and needs an excuse in order to suppress his conscience.

Produced by Paramount and released in 1933, Murders in the Zoo is a horror film that also solidifies itself as a pre-code Hollywood movie with the creepy murders (and the “mouth sewn shut” deal). I don’t want to give them away (a rare change of pace for me), but they are surprisingly shocking, and surely wouldn’t have survived the censors just a year or two later when the Hayes code began to be enforced. At least according to me, a movie is not “pre-code” unless it contains something that would be hacked by moralizing assholes if those moralizing assholes had the power to hack.

P.S. Post #2 in the Lazy Baker Halloween Horror Countdown. Nine more to go! Also, math is fun if it is easy.

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