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Murders in the Zoo (1933)

Passed | | Crime, Horror | 31 March 1933 (USA)
A monomaniacal zoologist is pathologically jealous of his beautiful but unfaithful wife Evelyn and will not stop short of murder to keep her.


(as Edward Sutherland)


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Complete credited cast:
Peter Yates (as Charlie Ruggles)
Eric Gorman
Jerry Evans
Dr. Jack Woodford
Roger Hewitt
Evelyn Gorman
Professor G.A. Evans


Eric Gorman returns with his wife Evelyn from a trip to the Orient collecting zoo animals, having killed a member of his expedition who happened one day to kiss Mrs. Gorman. On board ship Evelyn meets Roger Hewitt, who falls in love with her. After delivering his animals to the zoo, Gorman plots a way to dispose of Hewitt using one of his latest specimens, then continues using the zoo's non-human residents to do his beastly work. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Horror






Release Date:

31 March 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Murder at the Zoo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording) (original)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Working title: "Murder at the Zoo" See more »


When Gorman returns from Indo-China, at least one lion is visible among his catch. Lions have never been indigenous to Southeastern Asia. See more »


Jerry Evans: [Releasing Peter, obviously in shock, from cage] Peter, Peter, listen to me! Say something to me!
Peter Yates: [With his knees bent and apart] Is there a good laundry in this town!
See more »


Featured in Svengoolie: Murders in the Zoo (2016) See more »


Music by Ralph Rainger
Lyrics by Leo Robin
Hummed and sung a cappella by Charles Ruggles
Played as background music at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Outstanding 30's Horror Fare

I am shocked,well, okay that word may be a bit strong, at a couple of the comments on here with regards to this film. This IS a great little horror gem that needs more press for its atmosphere and for the wonderful performance of Lionel Atwill. Atwill is amazing as a jealous millionaire/adventurer use to getting his way. The opening has Atwill, wife, and company in India and the Orient in search of wild animals for the Municipal Zoo, of which Atwill is a great benefactor. We soon see what kind of man Atwill is as he literally sews a man's lips shut and leaves him for dead in the wild, saying, "He will never lie again, nor will he ever kiss another's woman." Atwill then goes back to camp, questioned by his wife where this man is saying he just fled. His wife asks if he said anything about where he was going and Atwill replies in his wonderfully droll, sardonic manner, "He didn't say anything." It is this kind of black humour in Atwill's performance throughout the whole film that really helps this movie rise from some of its obvious flaws. Yeah, I know Charlie Ruggles got top billing for his comedic "drunk" routine. I rather liked it myself, but can see where it might get tiresome after awhile. Some of the other performers are very wooden including character actors like Harry Beresford and particularly John Lodge as yet another man trying to seduce(a fairly easy task given the promiscuous nature of Atwill's lovely wife)Kathleen Burke as Atwill's wife. Burke gives a decent performance but looks a whole lot better than she acts. A small concession this reviewer can live with. But the film belongs to Atwill all the way. As one reviwer noted earlier, his evil presence is in many ways comparable to Leslie Banks in The Most dangerous Game and Charles Laughton in The Island of the Lost Souls. Atwill is sadean to the point of complete lack of care for anyone but himself. The zoo is impressive and some of the best scenes are a dinner given amidst all the carnivorous cats and the bridge that goes over a pool of crocodiles. Also, watch for a great scene with Atwill and Randolph Scott where Atwill, holding the head of a mamba in a tissue, tries to prick Scott when he is not looking. Another gem of black humour. One big flaw is the mamba itself. It is a boa or a python. Cannot have everything. The MCA-Universal print is as clear as you will find. A great film with an even greater Atwill performance!

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