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Film / Black Zoo

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Black Zoo is a 1963 American horror film produced and co-written by Herman Cohen, and directed by Robert Gordon.

Michael Conrad (Michael Gough) is a private zookeeper who owns Conrad's Animal Kingdom. He leads a cult group who literally worship the animals he tends — especially the big cats: a lion, a lioness, a pair of cheetahs, a tiger, and a black panther; as well as a gorilla. Conrad plays organ music to the animals in his living room, and uses them to kill anyone who gets in his way. Conrad is married to Edna (Jeanne Cooper) and forces his mute son Carl (Rod Lauren) to assist him.


Black Zoo includes examples of:

  • Animal Assassin: Conrad uses his big cats to eliminate his enemies.
  • Asshole Victim: It is doubtful many will have mourned the death of the the sleazy real estate developer Stengler.
  • Battle in the Rain: The film ends with a violent confrontation between Michael and Carl in the zoo during a rainstorm.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The hapless zookeeper Joe makes the bizarre decision to torment a tiger while he is in the cage with it. No prizes for guessing what happens next.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Michael Conrad attempts to kill Edna, his son Carl finally snaps and comes to his stepmother's defence, standing to up his father for the the first time. As Carl is The Speechless , this becomes a physical confrontation that quickly turns into a full-on Battle in the Rain.
  • Cute Mute: Carl. Audrey certainly thinks he is cute and spends some time Eating the Eye Candy before attempting to chat him up.
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  • Dead Man Honking: When the Killer Gorilla murders Jenny in her garage, she falls against the steering wheel of her car: causing the horn to blare and summoning the neighbours.
  • Domestic Abuse: Michael Conrad. He physically and verbally abuses his wife Edna (and murdered his first wife), and emotionally abuses his son Carl, who is mute as a result of his father's activities.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Michael Conrad is pleasant and charming to the zoo visitors, but behind closed doors he has a Hair-Trigger Temper and abuses his wife and son if they question him. He will also ruthlessly murder anyone who crosses him.
  • Fed to the Beast: After Joe shoots the tiger Baron, Conrad has Carl feed him to the lioness.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Michael Conrad has a hair-trigger temper and the least little thing will set him off. Any outsider who earns his wrath is likely to become the target of his big cats.
  • Killer Gorilla: Conrad uses the gorilla from his zoo to murder Jenny Brooks.
  • Nemean Skinning: During the meeting of the animal cult, the high priest Radu and Michael Conrad wear robes of tiger skin with the entire open-mouthed head of the tiger as a hood. It is not established where the robes came from, however.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Conrad plays the pipe organ to his big cats while lecturing them in his living room.
  • The Speechless: Carl. In a flashback at the end of the movie, it is revealed that he has been mute ever since he saw his mother mauled to death by a lion on the orders of his father.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Michael slaps his wife Edna across the face during their quarrel in the kitchen. The casual ease with which he does it indicates it is not the first time he has done it.