After a ship accident, a lone survivor heads into a man’s mansion where he seems to be safe. Only shortly after, he realizes that the man’s hunting instinct is far more dangerous than he realized.
The movie that was based on a book that many people in my generation have read in English class back in high school. After rewatching this, I say this is definitely a better “human vs human” story than “Ready or Not.”
Keep in mind it has been a very long time since I read the book. So my memory of the original story is very vague.
But from what I could gather, I believe I did like the book’s story. Two men who were both hunters. Each liking the thrill of the hunt but for different reasons. One liked hunting animals and mentioned that men were superior due to animals not experiencing any fear. While the other hunted humans for they can reason, unlike animals. Thus making them more interesting to hunt/kill than animals. The opposite and opposing dynamic between the protagonist/antagonist was something that the short story definitely had going.
This was something that was unfortunately downplayed some in the movie. Though the film did address an interesting question on would one feel if there were replaced with the animal being hunted? It also does tackle some of the contradictions of how one could be a hunter and be civilized. Again, the movie does mention these themes, but it doesn’t elaborate on them fully.
Nonetheless, this was a fun film to sit down.
The two best characters were the hunter protagonist (Rainsford) and the hunter protagonist (Zaroff). Both actors did a good job and their chemistry between them was good. The other characters in the movie, played by Faye Wray and Louis Armstrong, did their parts fine.
I should also point out that this film was produced by RKO Radio Pictures. The same studio that made “King Kong” (1933). Not only does this film feature two people from that movie, but also one of the producers was Merian C. Cooper.
Both films were made around the same time and one could tell. They use the same jungle locations and the same scenes that would later be iconic in “King Kong” (1933). In particular the fallen tree scene. Besides that, the rest of the jungle scenes were pretty cool. There was nice cinematography and it was at this point in the film, that the emotions were tense and a little suspenseful. As this was of course when Zaroff was hunting.
Another enjoyable aspect of the jungle scenes was when it showed Rainsford using his hunting tactics to outsmart Zaroff. I have to say my favorite was when Rainsford stuck a bamboo tree that stood out from the ground. Thus it later stabbed one of Zaroffs henchmen in the abdomen. It was such a dirty play, but it was awesome.
Besides the jungle, the other key location, Zaroff’s castle, was nice. It had the old-school Universal Horror feel to it which was sweet. To which I think it was appropriate seeing that Zaroff was a count after all. His overall presence was nicely done and it captured one’s eyes. Especially in the standoff scene where the low-key lighting hit Zaroff’s face. This created such hard shadows giving him a sinister and devilish look.
At times it does get surprisingly dark, especially for a movie that was released in the early 30s. Albeit for both good and wrong. There was a severed and decomposing head hanging on the wall in the trophy room. I didn’t have a problem with that. But the part where one of Zaroff’s many hunting dogs went off the cliff to snag Rainsford’s tattered clothes, was too grim.
Another interesting fact to share, did you know that the short story actually influenced the “Zodiac Killer.” For someone that currently watches “Mindhunter,” I found this very interesting.
This was a fun little action thriller. It had just enough character, emotions, cool sets, and interesting themes to keep one entertained. The first act was kind of slow, but it ramped up in the second act and finally with the climax in the third. Even though it’s only 1hr long, I say still give it a watch.