1932 ***** 70 mins.
This is the first big Hollywood adaptation of H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau. Although H. G. Wells did not like the film, for it strays quite a bit from his novel, it's widely regarded as an incredible film, especially an incredible horror film. It came out in 1932, during the heyday of Carl Laemmle's Universal Monster movies. It even features Bela Lugosi in a small, but unforgettable role. Island of Lost Souls is a brilliantly directed piece of cinema that is genuinely frightening. Erle C. Kenton's strategically orchestrated cinematography is unforgettable for its use of shadows, light, and placement of people and objects. Charles Laughton plays Dr. Moreau, and his portrayal is wonderfully underplayed, creating a deeply unsettling portrayal that will stick with you long after the film has ended. A shipwrecked man ends up on an island inhabited by a mad doctor who is turning animals into humanlike creatures. It's a shame that this film isn't more mainstream, like its Universal Monster counterparts. Another interesting fact about this film is that it is the inspiration for the definitive '80s band Devo. On the Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-ray, there is an interview with Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, talking about Island of Lost Souls and how it deeply affected them and their band! It's a strange fact, to be sure! Long story short, seek out Island of Lost Souls, add it to your collection, and cherish it!
Original theatrical aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Based on The Island of Dr. Moreau by
H. G. Wells
Erle C. Kenton