Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For For Getting Our Lips Sewn Shut and Being Eaten By Crocodiles

Murders In the Zoo is on DVD for the first time and maybe it's the Benadryl talking but I thought it was pretty great. I am completely obsessed with Kathleen Burke, the crazily perfectly art deco looking actress. And then I noted that the film was directed by Edward Sutherland, Louise Brooks' first husband. I think he has a type. But really, she looks like a piece of illustration. Unfortunately she winds up being eaten by crocodiles. It's that kind of movie. Okay, she wasn't much of an actress, but it's a total shame she never wound up hanging out with the surrealists in Europe because they would have gone mad for her.

There is also some modern CSI style lab work and an inexplicably hammy turn by somebody named Charles Ruggles. This is pretty much a straight up horror movie. There's the delightfully creepy murderer played by Lionel Atwill, a bunch of people who are there to be killed, and the love interest (the boring couple who survive). But Charles Ruggles gets top billing as the unnecessary and annoying Zoo publicist. Since when does the unnecessary comic relief get top billing? I have a feeling someone if the front office thought the movie was "too dark" and it needed someone more famous, so they shoe-horned in this unfunny comedian.

Lionel Atwill and Kathleen Burke

I really wonder what happened to Kathleen Burke. She got married and retired from the movie business at 25. She did lots of radio until about 1940 (when she was still not yet 30) and then fell off the radar. She died in 1980, and no one's really sure what became of her in the intervening 40 years. Maybe she became a hard-boiled Chandleresque dame. But I suppose it's more likely she became a housewife and led a perfectly ordinary, uneventful life. But I can dream, can't I? Or perhaps at one point I can invent an exciting and fictional alternate 40 years and all questions will answered and all mysteries solved.

Here is the completely grisly opening sequence:

Zoo isn't on Netflix and TCM sadly doesn't have it On Demand. You can purchase the DVD at the TCM store either as a part of their Universal Cult Horror collection (which looks awesome) or individually.

1 comment:

miconian said...

I'm liking the idea of you filling in the blanks... 'The Secret Life Of Kathleen Burke,' or similar.