The Most Dangerous Game

Adaptations and in popular culture


The first major film adaption was RKO Pictures' film released in 1932, The Most Dangerous Game. Joel McCrea stars as Rainsford; Leslie Banks portrays Zaroff. The adaptation by James Ashmore Creelman adds two other principal characters, brother-and-sister pair Eve Trowbridge (Fay Wray) and Martin Trowbridge (Robert Armstrong), who are castaways from a shipwreck. The Most Dangerous Game was co-directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Irving Pichel; also with a score by Max Steiner, the film was a favorite project of producer Merian C. Cooper. The production shared several sets with King Kong (1933), a simultaneous RKO project that also involved Schoedsack, Cooper, Wray, Armstrong, Creelman, and Steiner. The Most Dangerous Game was a modest success.[8][9][10]:51

RKO produced a remake titled A Game of Death (1945), directed by Robert Wise, from a screenplay Norman Houston wrote. This film stars John Loder and Audrey Long, with Edgar Barrier as the mad hunter.[10]:206 In order to keep with events of that time, A Game of Death changed Zaroff into "Erich Kreiger", a Nazi, and was set in the aftermath of the Second World War.[11]

In 1956, United Artists released another film adaptation, Run for the Sun, starring Richard Widmark, Trevor Howard and Jane Greer.[12][10]:206 In 1961, the film Bloodlust! was released, directed by Ralph Brooke and starring Wilton Graff as the Zaroff-type character, and Robert Reed as the leader of a band of youths who become stranded on the island.[13] 1972's The Woman Hunt starring John Ashley and Sid Haig made for Roger Corman's New World Pictures is an unofficial remake of the story.[14]

Also in 1972, The Suckers, tells a sexploitation version of the story, with the hunter using models as his prey.[15] In 1973, The Peverse Countess was released.[16] The 1982 Australian film Turkey Shoot has similar elements.[17]

The 1987 film, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity, transports the story to an alien world using scantily clad women as the hunted and a mad scientist, Zed as the Zarkoff character.[16][18]

John Woo's first Hollywood directorial effort, the Jean-Claude Van Damme thriller Hard Target (1993), was loosely based on the same story. The locale was shifted to 1990s New Orleans, with homeless Vietnam war veterans voluntarily serving (in return for potential payment from a shady businessman) as human prey.

In Surviving the Game (1994), a homeless man is hired as a survival guide for a group of wealthy businessmen on a hunting trip in the mountains. He is unaware that they are killers who hunt humans for sport, and that he is their new prey. Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson, the film stars Rutger Hauer, Ice-T, and Charles S. Dutton.

The Pest (1997) is a comedic parody of the story, with German huntsman Gustav Shank accidentally bringing Puerto Rican teenage hustler Pestario "Pest" Vargas to his island instead of the skilled man he had intended to hunt, only to decide to hunt the Pest anyway due to his sheer obnoxiousness. Shank's ambition is to have a head of a warrior of every ethnicity in his Trophy Room. He also rigs the "game" by having his prey unknowingly drink a slow-acting poison before the hunt, making sure that they die even if they escape him.

In The Eliminator (2004), seven captured people are hunted at night for sport on an island as a betting game for the wealthy.


"The Most Dangerous Game" was presented four times as a radio play.

  • On September 23, 1943, it aired on the CBS series, Suspense, and starred Orson Welles as Zaroff and Keenan Wynn as Rainsford.[6]
  • On February 1, 1945, it was presented with J. Carrol Naish as Zaroff and Joseph Cotten as Rainsford.[19] Both Suspense productions presented an adaptation by Jack Finke in which Rainsford narrates the story in retrospect as he waits in Zaroff's bedroom for the final confrontation.[6][16]
  • On October 1, 1947, another adaption was used for the CBS radio program, Escape.[20]
  • On September 24, 1949, it was the penultimate entry in the series Tales of Fatima. Voice actors were Basil Rathbone and Rex Harrison.[21]


The Outer Limits episode "The Hunt" is a story in which the hunting of animals has been banned by environmentalists, and black market hunting of obsolete androids takes its place.

In The Wild Wild West episode, 1/3 "The Night of Sudden Death", Jim West and a circus girl are trapped inside a Africa Reserve wild animal Park in Colorado and are hunted by an insane big-game hunter Warren (Robert Loggia).

In the Get Smart episode, "Island of the Darned", Agents 86 and 99 are trapped on an island with a mad KAOS killer, Hans Hunter (Harold Gould).

This trope was used in the season 3 (1968), episode 22 of I Spy, "The Name of the Game".

In the Gilligan's Island episode "The Hunter", big-game hunter Jonathan Kincaid (Rory Calhoun) turned his sights on Gilligan when he realized there were no wild animals on the island.

In season 1, episode 18 of Star Trek: The Original Series, "The Squire of Gothos", a childlike, seemingly all-powerful being named Trelane kidnaps and hunts Captain Kirk.

In the series finale of Bonanza, entitled "The Hunter", a deranged killer, Corporal Bill Tanner (Tom Skerritt), who was formerly a tracker for the United States Army, hunts Little Joe (Michael Landon).

In the 1974 TV movie "Savages" after a young man accidentally witnesses a murder, he must survive both the desert and being hunted by the killer (Andy Griffith).[22]

In the 1977 pilot episode of Fantasy Island, a big-game hunter comes to the island to be hunted by a man, an interesting twist on the usual version in which the hunted participates against his will.

The Canadian series Relic Hunter had an episode called "Run Sydney Run" that was very closely based on "The Most Dangerous Game", with Peter Stebbings acting as General Tsarlov.

The Simpsons Halloween special "Treehouse of Horror XVI" contained a segment titled "Survival of the Fattest" which parodied the story closely. In this segment Mr. Burns invited much of the cast to his hunting lodge on a private island, only to reveal that he intended to hunt them all for sport. Another episode makes a reference to "The Most Dangerous Game" when Rainier Wolfcastle says that he bought a YMCA to demolish it and install a hunting ground dedicated to "hunt the most dangerous animal of all... Man".

In an episode of the animated sitcom American Dad!, the Smith family and a young woman become stranded on an island after Francine jumps off a cruise. Stan goes up to the mansion on this island to ask for help, but the inhabitants say that they are going to hunt the family. The Smiths and the young woman become trapped in a cave, where the young woman dies and they eat her to survive. The hunters then break into the cave and shoot the family. Stan sits up, realizing it is paint. At a party later, the hunters reveal that nobody really dies on The Most Dangerous Game Island.

The Incredible Hulk episode "The Snare" has Banner trapped on a private island owned by an insane hunter who not only craves the challenge of hunting humans, but considers the discovery of Banner's powerful Hulk form as a sign of a particularly appealing quarry.

In Season 2, Episode 21 of Criminal Minds, "Open Season", two brothers capture people stranded in a remote region of the wilderness outside Challis, Idaho, release them into the hills, and hunt them with compound bows for sport, referring the men as "bucks" and the women as "does".

In Season 13, Episode 15 of Law and Order: SVU, "Hunting Ground", a serial rapist and killer lures female escorts after their date to a remote area where he sets them free while he hunts them down to recapture them again.

In the Disney animated series The Mighty Ducks "The Most Dangerous Duck Hunt" episode, the heroes are trapped on an island and hunted.

In a "Dial M for Monkey" segment of the animated series Dexter's Laboratory, the hero Monkey is trapped by an alien big-game hunter named "Huntor", who also makes a cameo among a league of Hunters of "Sumarai Jack" in the Cartoon Network cartoon series Samurai Jack.

In Season 1, Episode 15 of Supernatural, "The Benders", a family has been behind disappearances in a city. The family snatches victims to hunt and kill. Sam and a police officer are taken, but Dean finds them and helps them subdue the family before it can cause them any harm.

In Season 7, Episode 12 of Futurama, "31st Century Fox", Bender becomes the target of a fox hunting club and is referred to as 'the most dangerous game.'

In Season 2 Episode 6 of The Blacklist, Elizabeth Keen and her FBI task force encounter a family in Idaho who trained the mother's youngest son to hunt and kill humans kidnapped by the eldest son.

In the Season 3, Episode 5 episode of Archer, "El Contador", Lana and Archer are hunted by a drug lord.

In Season 4, Episode 2 of Game of Thrones, there is a scene in which Ramsay Bolton hunts a woman (one of his former lovers). She is cornered by the hunting party and eaten alive by Ramsay's dogs. It is implied that this was not the only time Ramsay indulged in human hunting "for sport."

In Season 3, Episodes 21 and 22 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano and Chewbacca are hunted on an island.

An episode of the animated series Johnny Bravo entitled "Hunted!" is an obvious parody of the story. The titular Johnny is forced to go through the same ordeal, but his stupidity and foolishness greatly frustrates the hunter, who eventually allows him to leave.

Season 6 episode 11 of Xena: Warrior Princess, "Dangerous Prey", is also inspired by The Most Dangerous Game. In this episode, Prince Morloch is a hunter who has grown bored of hunting animals, saying he's "killed one of every creature that walks this earth". He started hunting Amazons which grabbed the attention of Xena.

In season 3 of Wrecked, the plane crash survivors land on another island. Where 4 rich men make them hunt each other (hunger games), then they will hunt the winner/survivor.

Other adaptations

The story has also served as an inspiration for books and films like Seventh Victim, Battle Royale, Predator, The Running Man and The Hunger Games. In the film Westworld, humans are allowed to hunt and kill androids until one, played by Yul Brynner, starts hunting them.

In the anime series Psycho-Pass, episodes 10 and 11 feature a wealthy cyborg tycoon who dons gentleman's hunting gear and hunts people in an underground maze with his robotic hounds.

In the video game Hitman: Contracts, the mission "Beldingford Manor" takes inspiration from this story.

In the video game Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, the character Razoff takes inspiration from General Zaroff, even sharing similar names.

In the video game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the quest "Caught in the Hunt" is inspired by this story.

In the comic-book story "The Second Most Dangerous Game" (serialized in Martian Comics #8-10), Martians possess humans to continue their tradition of hunting other humans, after the practice has been outlawed. Richard Connell is a character.

In the comic book issue "Daredevil #4" Daredevil fights a mad manhunter on a remote Island.

The well-known Spider-Man villain, Kraven the Hunter, is based on the character of General Zaroff.

In Clive Cussler's book "DRAGON" Dirk Pitt is chased by "Kamatori" on Soseki Island.

In the online game Poptropica, the five-part Survival Island features the player in a situation much like the one in the original story. At the end of the third episode, the player is rescued by a hunter known as Myron van Buren. The fourth episode revolves around the player in van Buren's cabin, finding out that van Buren plans to hunt them. In the fifth episode, the player teams up with another victim of van Buren to defeat him by trapping him in a waterwheel.

In the video game Psychonauts, Vernon, one of the campers, references to hunting the most dangerous game while playing hide and seek.

In 2006, The Onion parodied the premise, positing that humans would actually make rather pitiful prey.[23]

In Don Pendleton's The Executioner series, book #441, called Murder Island has a similar plot to the book. The protagonist, Mack "The Executioner" Bolan (a Vigilante/government agent) encounters a rich businessman hunter on an island while on a mission and ends up in a similar position as the Rainsford character, while the rich hunter takes a similar role as Zaroff.

In a song called “Fly On the Wall” by Joey Pecoraro, the opening interaction between Rainsford and General Zaroff is used as a prelude to the actual song.

The Rooster Teeth series "Let's Play Minecraft" featured an adaptation of the story into a game played by the show's cast members in the video game Minecraft, where one player was given a map and hunted by the other five in and around the in-game world created by the Achievement Hunter cast members.

A translated version was published in Malayalam as an audio book by Kathacafe in 2017.[24]

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