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Film / Murders in the Zoo

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A horror thriller from 1933, starring Lionel Atwill and Randolph Scott.

Eric Gorman is a big game hunter, who is murderously jealous about his wife, Evelyn. After bringing animals to a zoo from one of his expeditions, he ends up committing few murders too many and desperately seeks to clear his tracks.

This film has the examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Yates is a former alcoholic, who returns to his old habits after the film's events prove to be too much for him.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Alluded to after Yates regains his consciouness after finding the mamba.
    Jerry: Peter, Peter, listen to me! Say something to me!
    Peter: Is there a good laundry in this town?
  • Chekhov's Gun: The pullswitch for the doors of lion cages comes back in the climax when Eric releases them to hinder his pursuers.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Eric murders anyone who tries to take his wife from him.
  • Didn't Think This Through: While trying to escape from the zoo, Eric pulls the switch that opens all of the cages in the carnivore house; releasing all of the big cats. This does cause his pursuers to hurriedly back off. However, only after he has done this does he seem to realise that he is now inside the building with all of the escaped predators.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Jerry, who is a woman.
  • Ironic Fear: Peter Yates takes a job as press agent for the zoo despite being afraid of animals
  • Misplaced Wildlife: One of the animals that Gorman brings from China is a lion, which isn't indigenous to Southeastern Asia. Neither are chimpanzees or green mambas.
  • Mouth Stitched Shut: The film opens in Indo-China, where Eric sews one of Evelyn's would-be lovers' mouth shut, and leaves him for dead in the middle of a jungle. Within a day, he is killed by tigers.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Eric eventually murders Evelyn when she threatens to expose his crimes by dumping her into an alligator pond.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The zoo has an unenclosed bridge on a public path that crosses over the crocodile pool. Unsurprisingly, Eric Gorman pushes his wife to her death off it
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Peter Yates, who provides humour by being constantly scared by animals and by regularly stumbling over his words.
  • Shark Pool: Eric Gorman pushes his wife into the zoo's crocodile pond.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Eric fakes his poisonings as Green Mamba bites. He also meets his end by entering a boa cage for safety from lions, and is crushed to death by it.
  • This Bear Was Framed: Eric Gorman uses a fake snake head to inject green mamba venom into Hewitt, making it look like he has been bitten by a snake. He later tries to do the same thing to Jack Woodford.
  • Villain Protagonist: Eric Gorman.