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The Most Dangerous Game
Graf Zaroff - Genie des Bösen

USA 1932
produced by
Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper, David O. Selznick (executive) for RKO
directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack, Irving Pichel
starring Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Robert Armstrong, Noble Johnson, Steve Clemente, Oscar 'Dutch' Hendrian, William B. Davidson, James Flavin, Hale Hamilton, Landers Stevens, Phil Tead
screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman, based on a story by Richard Connell

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Big game hunter Bob (Joel McCrea) is the only survivor of a shipwreck, and somehow he can save himself onto a remote island, where, against all odds, he finds a castle, owned by Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks), another big game hunter who claims to admire him. Zaroff urges Bob to stay as his guest, and introduces him to his two other guests, lovely Eve (Fay Wray) and her permanently drunk brother Martin (Robert Armstrong). And Zaroff dies to invite Bob to a hunt, a hunt for what he calls the most dangerous game.

All couldn't be better for Bob, except, it isn't. In a quiet moment, Eve tells him about two of their fellow travellers who have one day disappeared thanks to their charming host, and then there's Zaroff's secret trophy room, and suddenly her brother has disappeared, too. Enough to get onethinking, and later investigating ... and soon enough, Bob and Eve enter the trophy room and find human heads as the top trophies - and they find Martin, dead.

Turns out that Zaroff's most dangerous game is humans, and he would so want to share his hunting pleasures with Bob, a fellow hunter whom he admires ... but somehow Bob doesn't really agree to this, so Zaroff redecides and instead makes Bob and Eve the game for his next hunt: He gives them a few hours head-start, then starts tracking them down, armed with bow and arrow and a gun, and with Rottweilers as his helpers.

Fortunately though, Bob knows a thing or two about hunting and builds a few traps (which are all too obvious for Zaroff) and he knows how to cross a swamp and fight off a dog ... but in the end, he falls down a waterfall, and Zaroff takes Eve back as his living trophy.

What Zaroff didn't know though is that Bob actually took a chance when falling down the waterfall, and a short time later he returns to the castle and fights off Zaroff and his men, before getting to the only boat on the island and making good his getaway with Eve. And in the end, the heavily injured Zaroff, trying to stop Bob with bow and arrow, instead falls out the window, right in front of his own killer dogs ...

 

Filmed back to back with King Kong, The Most Dangerous Game never managed to match that films popularity - but nevertheless is simply a great movie in its own right. Nowadays of course, manhunt films are a staple of the exploitation film world, but back in the days, the genre was entirely new, and this film took it to perverse heights and a narrative density that its legion of successors have never managed to match.

Quite simply, a must-see !

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD