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Warner Brothers Archive (NOW ON DVD!): Black Zoo

If you’re one of the many frustrated by an inability to get your hands on DVD’s of clasc genre offerings, Warner Brothers Archive has set out to ease your frustration, and provide you, the fans with a chance to finally own some of the more obscure titles yet to receive official disc releases. From cult favorite efforts of the 1960’s, to unheralded features of the 1980’s, WBA is opening a can of worms sure to be relished by hardcore collectors. Amazingly, these films are pressed to order, so it may be wise to capitalize on this buness venture while the opportunity still presents itself (who knows, slow sales could lead to the abandonment of this kick ass marketing concept)!

Next up in our Warner Brothers Archive coverage is Robert Gordon’s underwhelming, Black Zoo. Released in 1963, this tale of caged animals released to roam as human predators boasts all the potential imaginable, but sadly falls far short of satisfying. Check out the synops, pros, cons and summary below!Synops:

The most savage animal in a garden of beasts, animal-worship cultist and private zoo owner Michael Conrad (Michael Gough) has trained his lions well, ccing the big cats on any fool who dares get in his way. First it was a snoopy secretary, then a scheming realtor (Jerome Cowan). But only when his unhappy wife (Jeanne Cooper) runs off with his beloved chimps does Conrad unleash his inner beast, and the fur really flies. Shot by Academy Award®-winning* cinematographer Floyd Crosby on a soundstage stocked by famed animal behaviorist and Marine World creator Ralph Helfer, Black Zoo is the third collaboration of Gough (who later played Alfred the butler in four Batman movies) and producer Herman Cohen (Horrors of the Black Museum and Konga), a furocious last trip to the maul.

Pros: I love the aesthetic value and dated vibe of this film. The golly-jee, still fairly naïve feel of the early 60’s emanates from the picture and it's characters, and it’s damn fine taking a brief trip back in time to a day and age I never knew. The colors of this remastered rendition are for the most part quite effervescent, and the soundtrack, while not remarkable is clean and sufficient.

Michael Gough, who portrays Black Zoo’s focal antagonist, Michael Conrad, is absolutely fantastic. He’s the perfect smug villain with a major superiority complex, and why wouldn’t he be? He’s got a handful of masve beasts at his disposal, prepared to shed the blood of anyone who contemplates crosng him. There’s a sense of confidence in Gough’s performance that few actors manage to suggest in front of a camera, and in all honesty, that’s the picture’s saving grace.

Cons: The story we’re dealt here feels not only rushed, but really rather careless and sloppy. There are inconstencies that leap to ght on a regular bas, and when you couple them with such a generally outlandish premise, you get about what you put in: a shaky spectacle in which a terrific performer’s talents are virtually tossed to the wolves.

The story is never stimulating, and the pace drags at a disappointing rate; at one point I had to ask myself if the disc was skipping, or if I was witnesng the same bland rinse-and-repeat sequence unravel time and again with minute differences tossed in the mix, you know, to keep things “spiced up”. Unfortunately, the latter was the case, and Black Zoo is a legitimate dud. Gough’s resonating performance falls by the wayde, and as a fan and open-minded viewer, I find it damn disappointing.

Summary: Black Zoo is for the obscure collector, and diehard Michael Gough fans. A preposterous script ensured this one be doomed, and it’s too bad, because Gough is creepy as hell, and had the writing team invested a bit more time on (some important) details and the creation of actual suspense, I could be discusng a true winner. That’s just not the case.DVDetails:

Studio: ALLIED ARTISTS Screen Aspect: 16 X 9 LETTERBOX Run Time: 88 minutes Packaging Type: Amaray Case Bonus Features: None

Order your copy of Black Zoo right here at Warner Brothers Archive
Matt_Molgaard Wednesday 11/09/2011 at 06:03 PM | 86731