2 June 2016 | Hey_Sweden
Essential viewing for Michael Gough fans.
The deliciously theatrical Brit thespian Michael Gough is at his scenery devouring best in the role of Michael Conrad, owner of a private zoo that specializes in big cats. Michael is insanely devoted to these creatures, and is also mad enough to sic them on any nuisance in his life - including an extremely pesky realtor (Jerome Cowan). He keeps his wife Edna (Jeanne Cooper, 'The Young and the Restless') and mute employee Carl (Rod Lauren, "The Crawling Hand") completely under his thumb, to boot.
Very nicely shot in Panavision by Floyd Crosby, the man who was who doing such exemplary work on those Roger Corman Poe pictures during this time, "Black Zoo" is decent, but that's mostly due to Gough. Overall, director Robert Gordon ("It Came from Beneath the Sea"), working from the script by Aben Kandel and producer Herman Cohen, just doesn't make this that much fun. It might have helped if the animals had been let loose upon a couple more victims; as it is, the story is only mildly entertaining most of the time. Still, there's camp value in the presence of an obvious "man in a costume" styled gorilla (played by George Barrows), the absurdly touching funeral for one of the big cats, and in the laughable meeting of a cult of cat worshipers called The True Believers - a definite highlight of silliness. And those felines appear to be extremely well trained.
Unlike Gough, much of the cast is required to play it straight, and it is delightful to see such familiar faces as "Maltese Falcon" cast members Cowan and Elisha Cook Jr., Edward Platt ('Get Smart'), lovely Marianna Hill ("Messiah of Evil", "Blood Beach"), Byron Morrow ("Colossus: The Forbin Project"), and Warrene Ott ("The Undertaker and His Pals").
This is fairly enjoyable schlock that might play well alongside another Cohen-Gough collaboration, "Konga".
Six out of 10.