I recently saw the 1932 version of the movie “The Most Dangerous Game”, based off of the short story of the same name by Richard Connell. (I found it free on good, old youtube. I love youtube. The movie is supposedly a horror movie, though I didn’t find myself to be horrified.)
I feel a bit silly for my reason for watching the movie. I wanted to see it because I read that part of the video game, “Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc”, is based off this particular movie, so I was curious. The character from the game, Count Razoff, is based off of Count Zaroff from the movie. They are both lunatics that are overly obsessed with hunting and live in mansions in the middle of nowhere. Zaroff uses a bow or a rifle, and Razoff uses a rifle that shoots arrows. (And the most important similarity. Both are good at rolling their R’s.) In the game, Razoff hunts Rayman when he goes into the Count’s mansion. Razoff is apparently bent on turning Rayman into a rug or stuffing him. I guess he hasn’t decided on which yet. (I’d go with the rug myself.) In the movie, well, you’ll see. This post contains spoilers. If you’re allergic, you may need to leave. This post also contains nuts, in the case of Zaroff.
Anyway, the movie starts out on a ship. On this ship is our main character, Robert Rainsford, who is a hunter and wrote a book on hunting. Some of the people there are concerned that these lights for guiding the boat by this island are not where they should be. (I don’t know what they’re called. I can’t remember the last time I was on the high seas.) Meanwhile, a man is discussing hunting with Robert and asks him how he would feel if he was the one being hunted. Robert won’t give a straight answer because, after all, he’s the hunter, not the prey. Oh, Robert. You just walked into some major foreshadowing.
Well, the ship crashes, as we all hoped it would (hey, we want a story, don’t we?), and Robert is the only survivor. He manages to swim to the island nearby, where he finds a mansion. The mansion of Russian Count Zaroff, in fact, who lives there with a couple creepy servants. Zaroff tells Robert that another ship crashed recently, and the four survivors are staying with him. He asks Robert to stay with him until the boathouse is fixed. Only two of the other survivors are here currently, Eve (the token female, who wasn’t in the original story) and Martin, her drunk, annoying brother. The other two survivors, sailors, are not here. Apparently, they’ve been gone hunting the last couple of days.
Anyway, they talk, and we find that Zaroff is a hunter himself, and he has heard of Robert and even read his book. He also goes on to explain that hunting has become too easy and boring for him. He tried using a bow rather than a gun, but that didn’t help, so he decided he needed new game to hunt. “The most dangerous game,” in fact (hey, he stole the title), but he won’t say what. (My guess is goats. Those little buggers have goatees and will eat anything, the rogues. And have you seen their eyes…?)
Later, as Zaroff plays the piano for them, Eve takes Robert to the side and voices her suspicions. Ever since the sailors went with Zaroff into the trophy room, which is always kept locked, they haven’t been heard from again. And she suspects there is nothing wrong with the boathouse. Nonsense. Robert’s sure nothing weird’s going on here. I guess he forgot he’s in a movie, and movies need conflict.
Anyway, Eve and Robert are heading to their rooms for the night, and Martin says he and Zaroff should go hunting. Eve tells Martin to not stay up too late, and Martin says not to worry, Zaroff will take care of him, to which Zaroff responds, “Indeed I shall.” Oh, yes, Zaroff will take care of Martin, all right. Indeed he shall.
Later, Eve comes to Robert’s room. Martin still hasn’t returned, and she is worried. So they go look for him and see that the trophy room is unlocked. They go in, and it is dark. After a bit, they are shocked to find a human head mounted on the wall. Then, they hide as Zaroff and his henchmen come in carrying a suspicious bundle. Eve and Robert confront Zaroff, and they find out just what the bundle is. Or more accurately, who. (Good riddance, Martin, you obnoxious man, you! I mean, oh no!)
And this is where we find that soylent green is made of people. Wait, no, wrong movie. Eve is taken away while Robert is bound, and Zaroff explains that the prey he now hunts, “the most dangerous game”, is humans. Zaroff takes his victims to the trophy room before hunting them because they think he’s joking at first. He then asks Robert to hunt with him, but Robert refuses. In that case, Robert will just have to be Zaroff’s next prey, and Eve will be his once Robert is dead. Zaroff says he’ll give Robert a knife and a head start. At midnight, Zaroff will come after him, and if Robert survives until sunrise, Zaroff will let him and Eve go. But, Zaroff has never before lost.
Up until this point, the movie has been interesting, but here’s where it gets a little boring. Eve decides to go with Robert, and the two attempt to go as far as they can, but find that the island is quite small. So Robert sets out traps, but Zaroff is not so easily fooled. After the first trap, Zaroff replaces his bow with a rifle, and after the second one, Zaroff calls his hounds. (What a cheater! And who hunts with hounds, anyway? I still think goats are more ferocious.) So there’s a chase scene (my favorite, not!) that ends in one henchman dying and Robert battling a couple hounds by the edge of a waterfall. Zaroff shoots at him, and dog and man go tumbling to the water below. Zaroff, satisfied, returns home with Eve.
But, Robert is not dead, of course. Zaroff simply shot his own dog. Robert comes back into the mansion, and Zaroff congratulates him. He gives Robert the key to the boathouse and says that he and Eve are free to go. But, the dastardly Count isn’t going to give up so easily. He then pulls out a hidden handgun and Robert attacks him. Then, we have another one of my favorites, a fight scene (NOT!), during which the remaining creepy henchman also decides to join in, probably because it looks like so much fun. An injured Zaroff grabs his bow, but Robert stabs him with an arrow. Then, he and Eve make their getaway. They start to leave in a boat, and Zaroff, severely injured, goes to the window to shoot at them with his bow, but weak, falls through the window, supposedly down to his own hounds.
So there you have it. You’re all now victims of major movie spoilers. I thought it was a pretty good movie, despite some boring stuff. I most enjoyed the parts in Zaroff’s mansion before Martin goes missing. I thought it was kind of funny how Zaroff tries to tolerate the obnoxious Martin shortly before the drunk meets his demise. And it was much fun to see Count Razoff’s inspiration. I was also pleased that Eve’s clothes didn’t somehow all fall off at some point in the movie. Most women apparently have trouble keeping their clothes on. Not sure why.
The Most Dangerous Duck