The Most Dangerous Game
Director: Ralph Brooke

Director: Ernest R. Dickerson

Directors: Irving Pachel & Ernest B. Schoedsack

Director: Ken Dixon

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Most Dangerous Game Taking the plot of Richard Connell's often-imitated 1924 classic short story "The Most Dangerous Game" & its 1932 film adaptation, the 1961 teen-sploitation version is Bloodlust, a drive-in shlock classic.

It pits its reclusive island psycho (Wilton Graff) against teenagers (Robert Reed, later of the Brady Bunch, Betty Scott, et al) in a simple let-them-loose & hunt-them-down plot.

Since the madman is armed only with a crossbow, & is clearly fat & out of shape, he doesn't seem all that menacing to strapping young adults, if only the kids could stick together to overwhelm him. But in that case the story'd be over before it got started, so they fumble around & get separated & behave generally like foolish kids, which isn't all that unbelievable.

The cast is fleshed out with, among others, henchmen (where the recluse gets his faithful doomed minions is difficult to fathom), a funny lunatic in the forest (Bill Coontz) whom the mad hunter never got round to hunting down, a boat's criminal captain (Troy Patterson), the madman's fearful wife (Lilyan Chauvin), & a master of Egyptian mummification to assist in the assembly of a museum of the slain, who'll get tossed in the boiling vat.

Surviving the GameStupid stuff sure, but it's blessedly only a little more than an hour in length, & campy enough to be lots of fun for one of those nights when one wants intentionally to watch a bad movie.

For increased laughability, it's also available with Mystery Science Fiction Theater 3000 puppet commentary.

A vastly better though uncredited borrowing of Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" is Surviving the Game (1994).

A homeless & street-smart Jack Mason (Ice-T) is tricked into attending a hunting expedition in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, finding out all too soon that he is to be the game animal.

Mason must adapt his ghetto survival instincts to the wilderness, & sure nuff, he gets the better of the impressive team of lunatic hunters.

A rather amazing cast uplifts the material with fine performances all round, from such as F. Murray Abraham, Rutger Hauer, Charles Dutton, & Gary Busey.

Surviving the GameThese hunters had been disappointed in previous human game. So they went out of their way to find a worthy opponent. Mason turns out to be rather too worthy. Instead of being run to ground, he begins to pick off the hunters one by one.

Ice-T has gigantic charismatic star power & is simply spectacular as Mason, a man who has given up on life but will find a new lease when hunters try to deprive him of it.

His central performance turns a perhaps overly simple story into a gorgeous fable of the rebellion of the oppressed. And if the film's slight pretense of a social consciousness comes off a little strained, the pure adventure of it does not. Ice-T truly rules.

There are many other screen adaptations, remakes, & plagiarisms of the The Most Dangerous Game, but the 1932 film is still just about the most powerful. Though shot with a tight schedule under unusual conditions, & barely over an hour long, it remains one of the great examples of suspense cinema. Its influence has been forever after affecting action & suspense cinema.

The Most Dangerous GameIt was for some while on the list of lost films, but a print was recovered in the 1970s. Joel McCrea is the heroic hunter Rainsford, marooned with previous castaways (siblings Eve & Martin) on the private island of the insane recluse Count Zaroff, ably played with true menace by Leslie Banks.

Banks' performance is sometimes weirdly restrained, elsetimes over the top as the subject requires, to the point that he's sometimes been listed as one of the great "movie monsters."

The classic horror moodiness is heightened by the artful gothic set design of the Count's castle, & by colorful character actors as the Count's servants, including Noble Johnson. Johnson was a black character-actor who (like most such) never had the great roles he deserved, is nevertheless an exciting background presence as the huge mute servant Ivan.

The Most Dangerous Game The original short story had no heroine, but the film wisely adds the character of Eve Trowbridge played by Fay Wray of King Kong fame, & it's quite possibly the best performance of her career.

Robert Armstrong as Eve's alcoholic brother was likewise be in King Kong & the jungle setting for that classic would be the same already seen in The Dangerous Game (watch for the hero & heroine's mad dash across the same log-bridge that Kong will knock into the gorge). The two films were shot with overlapping schedules using the same crew & actors. Because so much of King Kong was done with stop motion animation, The Most Dangerous Game was first to reach final edit & release.

The punning most dangerous "game" is human. The Count turns his game loose in the daylight with the promise of hunting them down with his dogs starting at midnight. A good deal of actual night photography allowed for use of sets needed for King Kong in the daylight hours.

Slave Girls from Beyond InfinityIf Rainsford & his love interest can last until morning, the Count will set them free. Otherwise, they are trophies. For once & finally the jaded Count has selected prey wholly worthy of his skills.

To dash from the sublime to the ridiculous, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987) is a spoofy T/A bikini-beech babe version of "The Most Dangerous Game."

It starts as sci-fi softcore sexploitation with busty gals imprisoned on board a space ship & chained up in the space ship's dungeon. They escape & even beat up a couple guys who're wearing full space gear while the girls remain all but naked start to finish.

They smarter-than-your-average-space-bimbos swipe a space shuttle & flee to a nearby jungle planetoid where they end up marooned with other castaways. They spend their first night in the castle of a madman who'll eventually turn them loose in order to hunt them down with his laser crossbow.

Because the film throws in an armed alien menace & a couple of androids, it has a sci-fi kitschiness that is as much fun as "bimbo movies" ever get. Which is like praising the least smelly dog doody stepped on in the off-leash park.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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