BLACK ZOO (1963)
Article 2138 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-22-2007
Posting Date: 6-20-2007
Directed by Robert Gordon
Featuring Michael Gough, Jeanne Cooper, Rod Lauren
A zoo owner uses his wild animals to dispense with his enemies.
The three movies made by Michael Gough for Herman Cohen in the late fifties and early sixties (HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, KONGA and this one) are something of a piece; Gough plays for all practical purposes the same character in all three: a man who has a smooth way of dealing with the authorities, but is brutal and abusive to those close to him and resorts to murder to do away with his enemies. This is the most obscure of the three movies; it’s nowhere near as good as HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, and even though I think it’s better than KONGA, it’s not as amusing as that one is in the final analysis. Still, I must confess that I’m not a big fan of Cohen’s work; I find it often lacking in subtlety, and there is a tendency toward shrillness (the characters scream at each other a lot). For me, the best things about this one are the presence of some familiar faces; Elisha Cook Jr. pops on the scene just long enough to die a horrible death, Rod Lauren was always interesting playing disturbed teens, and Edward Platt of “Get Smart” fame gets to play the chief of police, and I must admit to being tickled the moment one of the characters calls him “Chief”. My favorite moment is an unexpected one; Michael Gough attends a meeting of animal lovers known as the True Believers, and they give him a young tiger to replace his recently deceased one named Baron, and then they perform a ceremony to transfer Baron’s lost soul into the new beast.