Black Zoo (1963)

88 mins | Melodrama | 8 May 1963

Director:

Robert Gordon

Writer:

Aben Kandel

Producer:

Herman Cohen

Cinematographer:

Floyd Crosby

Editor:

Michael Luciano

Production Designer:

William Glasgow

Production Company:

Herman Cohen Productions
Full page view
HISTORY

The 31 Jul 1962 DV reported that producer Herman Cohen, known for his work with American International Pictures, was making his first film for Allied Artists (AA). Production was planned for Producers Studio in Hollywood, CA, where Cohen had moved his offices weeks earlier. The 16 May 1962 Var estimated the budget at $1 million. The picture starred British actor Michael Gough, described in the 26 Oct 1962 LAT as “England’s Vincent Price.” Cohen cast singer Rod Lauren as a mute, explaining to the 3 Feb 1963 LAT that he wanted to focus attention on the actor’s face, claiming it had a devastating effect on young women. Lauren was reportedly known to his fans as “The Eyes.” The 19 Oct 1962 DV noted that singer Fabian was also under consideration. Principal photography began 9 Nov 1962, according to a production chart in that day’s DV.
       Other casting announcements included Mary Benoit and Virginia Lewis (12 Nov 1962 DV) ; Ernest Anderson (19 Nov 1962 DV) ; Jimmy Gaines and Judy Erwin (26 Nov 1962 DV) ; John Hanek, Morgan Windbiel, Theresa Courtland, Ann Blake, and Katerine Hart (5 Dec 1962 DV) ; Bill Masters and Joseph Mell (7 Dec 1962 DV). The film also marked the screen debut of actress Susan Slavin. The 30 Jan 1963 DV credited Harold McGhan with providing special effects.
       According to the 28 Nov 1962 LAT, the cast of animals included Kennedy, a tiger cub, and a domestic cat named Johnson ... More Less

The 31 Jul 1962 DV reported that producer Herman Cohen, known for his work with American International Pictures, was making his first film for Allied Artists (AA). Production was planned for Producers Studio in Hollywood, CA, where Cohen had moved his offices weeks earlier. The 16 May 1962 Var estimated the budget at $1 million. The picture starred British actor Michael Gough, described in the 26 Oct 1962 LAT as “England’s Vincent Price.” Cohen cast singer Rod Lauren as a mute, explaining to the 3 Feb 1963 LAT that he wanted to focus attention on the actor’s face, claiming it had a devastating effect on young women. Lauren was reportedly known to his fans as “The Eyes.” The 19 Oct 1962 DV noted that singer Fabian was also under consideration. Principal photography began 9 Nov 1962, according to a production chart in that day’s DV.
       Other casting announcements included Mary Benoit and Virginia Lewis (12 Nov 1962 DV) ; Ernest Anderson (19 Nov 1962 DV) ; Jimmy Gaines and Judy Erwin (26 Nov 1962 DV) ; John Hanek, Morgan Windbiel, Theresa Courtland, Ann Blake, and Katerine Hart (5 Dec 1962 DV) ; Bill Masters and Joseph Mell (7 Dec 1962 DV). The film also marked the screen debut of actress Susan Slavin. The 30 Jan 1963 DV credited Harold McGhan with providing special effects.
       According to the 28 Nov 1962 LAT, the cast of animals included Kennedy, a tiger cub, and a domestic cat named Johnson as his stand-in. The pair’s namesakes were the sitting President and Vice-President of the United States. The article also mentioned an adult tigress, Baroness, who reportedly attacked a stuntman. The 19 Nov 1962 DV noted that the black panther appearing in the film was actually a California mountain lion sprayed with black dye. The 5 Dec 1962 LAT reported that another mountain lion, named Chico, escaped from Stage 5 through a hatch in the floor. While the studio was surrounded by armed police, animal supervisor Ralph Helfer and his team searched the basement for more than an hour until they found Chico. The 300-pound feline was carried back to the surface, where he promptly took a nap.
       Post-production was underway as of 20 Feb 1963, as noted in that day’s DV. On 11 Mar 1963, DV reported that Cohen was traveling to New York City to screen the film for AA executives. One month later, Var announced the film’s upcoming debut on 8 May 1963 in New York City at the Fox Theatre, with additional engagements at ninety locations on 15 May 1963. A news item in the 16 Oct 1963 DV stated that the picture was scheduled to open in San Francisco, CA, two days later under its revised title, Horrors of the Black Zoo. The Los Angeles, CA, opening followed on 11 Dec 1963. While critics complained of the excessive on-screen carnage, the 29 May 1963 Var reported receipts in excess $200,000 from the film’s opening week at sixty New York City locations, with nationwide grosses totaling $3 million. Cohen was currently on a fifteen-city promotional tour, after which he planned to open the film in several European cities.
       The 17 Apr 1963 Var noted that Charlton Publications issued the limited edition Black Zoo: A Picture by Picture Chiller Mag during the summer of 1963 to coincide with the film’s release.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
8 May 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
19 Oct 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Nov 1962
p. 8.
Daily Variety
12 Nov 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1962
p. 14.
Daily Variety
19 Nov 1962
p. 2, 4.
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
5 Dec 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1962
p. 6.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1963
p. 6.
Daily Variety
7 Feb 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Feb 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
11 Mar 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Nov 1963
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
26 Oct 1962
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
28 Nov 1962
Section C, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
5 Dec 1962
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
3 Feb 1963
Section B, p. 7.
New York Times
16 May 1963
p. 42.
Variety
16 May 1962
p. 11.
Variety
10 Apr 1963
p. 15.
Variety
8 May 1963
p. 6.
Variety
17 Apr 1963
p. 19.
Variety
29 May 1963
p. 13, 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story--scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam op
2d asst cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Music ed
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Opt eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Prod secy
Animal supv
Prop master
Constr supv
Stills
Gaffer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Black Zoo," words and music by Robert Marcucci and Russell Faith. Performed by The Russell Faith Orchestra.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Horrors of the Black Zoo
Release Date:
8 May 1963
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 May 1963
Los Angeles opening: 11 December 1963
Production Date:
began 9 November 1962
Copyright Claimant:
Herman Cohen Productions
Copyright Date:
20 May 1963
Copyright Number:
LP24880
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
88
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Los Angeles zoo owner Michael Conrad, insanely devoted to his animals, stops at nothing to eliminate obstacles to his work. While the police investigate two deaths by wild-animal maulings, Michael commands one of his lions to kill Jeffrey Stengel because of Stengel's insistence that Michael sell his zoo terrain for a housing development. Michael's wife, Edna, is suspicious of his actions and also resents his harsh treatment of the mute keeper, Carl. After an argument, she decides to leave Michael and resume her circus career. Her agent, Jenny, is killed by a gorilla after Michael overhears her make a tempting job offer to his wife. Meanwhile, Edna and Carl prepare to run away but are discovered by Michael; in a rage, he beats Edna and reveals that Carl is his own son, mute since childhood when he watched a lioness kill his mother on Michael's command. Michael commands a lion to kill Edna; Carl goes to her aid and is forced to kill his father in self-defense. The dying Michael calls in vain for his beloved beasts to save ... +


Los Angeles zoo owner Michael Conrad, insanely devoted to his animals, stops at nothing to eliminate obstacles to his work. While the police investigate two deaths by wild-animal maulings, Michael commands one of his lions to kill Jeffrey Stengel because of Stengel's insistence that Michael sell his zoo terrain for a housing development. Michael's wife, Edna, is suspicious of his actions and also resents his harsh treatment of the mute keeper, Carl. After an argument, she decides to leave Michael and resume her circus career. Her agent, Jenny, is killed by a gorilla after Michael overhears her make a tempting job offer to his wife. Meanwhile, Edna and Carl prepare to run away but are discovered by Michael; in a rage, he beats Edna and reveals that Carl is his own son, mute since childhood when he watched a lioness kill his mother on Michael's command. Michael commands a lion to kill Edna; Carl goes to her aid and is forced to kill his father in self-defense. The dying Michael calls in vain for his beloved beasts to save him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.