Day #I've stopped counting to be honest.
Whilst whistling a jaunty yet unfamiliar tune as I shaved myself in the igloo mirror this morning, I couldn't help feeling a sense of foreboding, a sense that something just... wasn't quite right. I looked at my reflection peering out at me through the grubby glass and noticed a small cut on my upper lip. Carefully, I dabbed it with my handkerchief. My reflection didn't, and continued to whistle that unfamiliar tune. Then I realised why the tune was so unfamiliar and I had that sense of foreboding - I can't whistle!
I was given no opportunity to ponder this fact however, as my reflection stuck a fist out of the mirror and punched me square in the face, round about where my nose used to be. "Here's something that doesn't happen every day." I remember thinking to myself as I collapsed unconscious on the floor.
When I came to I was strapped to my bed with my assailant standing over me.
"Dammit, he's good looking!" I thought to myself as I asked him "Who the hell are you?"
"You really don't remember, Basil?" replied my attractive attacker. "What on earth have they done to you? I'm Sean Berman. Your twin brother."
This place gets more like a far-fetched pulp horror novel every day...
And... Basil? What kind of name is that?
"Hey, this TV actually works!" I heard my stunningly handsome twin say as I slipped back into sweet unconsciousness...
THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932)
The Most Dangerous Game is the first ever celluloid example of one of my favourite horror sub-genres - humans hunting humans!
However, I don't think that the title is particularly apt when you consider that:
A) Humans aren't as dangerous as leopards or tigers really, are they? Oh, I know that humans have greater intelligence and have done more damage to the planet than any other living creature, but If I was walking through the jungle with a hunting rifle I'd rather come face-to-face with, say, Billy Ray Cyrus than a pissed off panther. But that's probably just me...
B) Is hunting humans really 'The Most Dangerous Game'? What about Snakes & Ladders with real snakes and rickety ladders that have random rungs missing? What about Hungry Hippos with real Hippos? I'm sure there are many other examples.
But I digress. We're in a small passenger ship traversing through dangerous waters as we meet our hero Bob Rainsford, a hunter by trade. One of Bob's chums engages him in a philosophical discussion along the lines of, "Who is the real savage, man who hunts for pleasure or the beast who hunts for necessity? What would you do if the roles were reversed?"
Bob laughs this off with a "Ha, that'll never happen to me! Never happen! Why, what possible set of circumstances could ever..." CRASH!!!! "What was that noise?"
It was the ship crashing. It sinks.
Bob and the captain are the only survivors!
A shark eats the captain.
Bob is the only survivor!
Somehow he manages to swim ashore unharmed. After wandering around for a bit he spots civilisation in the shape of a large, forbidding looking mansion.
The door creaks open and Bob steps inside. A hairy, scary man appears from behind the door. Bob tries to engage him in polite conversation but gets blanked, much to his annoyance. It never seems to register with Bob that this guy might not actually speak English, so thank goodness for the appearance of Count Zaroff to explain that Bob is speaking to Ivan who not only can't speak English but can't speak, being as he is that classic horror film staple, a mute man-servant.
Ivan is actually played by the African-American actor Noble Johnson - making this the earliest known example of a black actor play a Caucasian character.
Count Zaroff cuts a fine figure, I must say. Perfectly groomed facial hair, elegantly tailored suit and with a cigarette holder held just so.
He's foppish and he's fey and has impeccable manners, as he cordially welcomes Bob to his humble abode and has Ivan show him to a room, explaining that he has other guests who have also been shipwrecked. It would appear that Bob has had a stroke of luck finding the mansion. Count Zaroff seems like a really nice guy.
He's quite insane, of course.
Bob freshens himself up (luckily this was the 1930s, in the days before people got traumatised by being in disasters and getting chased by sharks) and meets his fellow shipwreckees; an annoying drunk called Martin Towbridge and his distinctly unannoying sister Eve Towbridge, played by the stunning Fay Wray.
Naturally, Bob makes a beeline for Eve.
Eve seems somewhat unhappy with the situation, and we see Bob surreptitiously sniff his armpit. But it turns out that it's Count Zaroff that is worrying Eve. "Two of our party have gone missing! They were last seen entering Count Zaroff's trophy room!"
"Hic! I'm going with Count Zaroff to his trophy room!" shouts her drunken brother, cheerily.
"Stop bothering me Martin, I'm trying to explain to Bob about people going missing!" she replies.
Anyway, Martin is never seen again. Bob and Eve search for him later that night, and creep into the trophy room. It's full of heads. Human heads!
"Something's not quite right here..." thinks Bob, but he has no time to piece the clues together as Zaroff and Ivan burst in and tie Bob and Eve up.
Zaroff helpfully explains the situation which we knew anyway - Zaroff likes hunting humans. But he recognises Bob as a fellow hunter and asks him if he'd like to join him in his horrifying human hunting hobby. Bob says no, one thing leads to another and before you know it Bob and Eve are running for their lives through the jungle (which you'll recognise as being the same jungle used in King Kong. You may also have recognised the screams of the shipwrecked sailors being the same as the screams of the equally unlucky sailors shaken off a log by Kong).
I almost forgot the rules - If Bob and Eve last until dawn, they're free to go. And Bob's been given a knife. That's all.
"Oh I'm slowing you up I shouldn't have came!" shouts Eve as they come to the edge of a cliff. You can see that Bob is thinking that she's right and he'd have been better off without her, but being a gentleman he keeps quiet about it.
Bob sets a couple of clever traps but Zaroff equally cleverly evades them, the clever count!
He's right behind Bob and Eve now and sets his dogs on Bob! Bob manages to fight one off, but here comes another one! And it's a big bitch!
The remaining few minutes of the film are pretty damn exciting and full of incident. Perhaps I'm being over-cautious in not wishing to give away spoilers for a film that's over 80-years old, but look, it's only an hour long. You should really watch it. And because it's Public Domain I can post a link to the full version here (I think) for your viewing pleasure. So here it is. Enjoy:
Watch The Most Dangerous Game
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