Fun Size Review: West of Zanzibar (1928)

This movie is sick. I’m just getting that out of the way now. All the content warnings in the world. Lon Chaney stars, Tod Browning directs. Could it be anything but twisted? I also kind of love it.

It’s a sweaty, grimy and absolutely not for everyone but doe those of you who like their trash on the rancid side (and I do) this is a toxic gem. Chaney is a deranged villain but he also gives one of his most heart-breaking performances. See it if you can take it (no hard feelings if you can’t).

How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.
Chaney’s revenge plan goes haywire when it turns out that the young lady he assumed to be his enemies kid is really his daughter. Chaney sacrifices himself to cover her escape with her lover.

Read my full-length review here. (I also cover the kinda remake, Kongo, and the sideways based-on-the-same-story The Shanghai Gesture.)

If it were a dessert it would be: Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Ice Pop. Dark, dripping, bitter and most definitely for grown-ups.

Availability: Released on DVD by Warner Archive.

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7 Replies to “Fun Size Review: West of Zanzibar (1928)”

  1. I loooooooove this movie. One of Chaney’s best, and Mary Nolan ain’t no slouch either. (Shout out to Mr B too!) Fun fact: Edna “London After Midnight” Tichenor’s dancing scene in the seedy nightclub was cut before release.

  2. Browning loves having his characters reveal their inner selves as grotesquely as possible. Kongo is no slouch in the gruesome department, and Lupe Velez is always welcome. The Shanghai Gesture is pretty twisted in a more high-tone way.

  3. I guess Chaney and Browning got their freak on with THE UNKNOWN, which is also super twisted (Guy cuts his arms off to impress a girl. It doesn’t work.) and looked around for a property to up the ante. Which is worse, cutting off your arms or forcing your daughter into prostitution?

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