Island of Lost Souls (1933)

Article #80 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-4-2001
Posting date: 10-18-2001

A castaway is left on an island by a cargo ship. There he meets a strange race of not-quite-human creatures, and the mysterious Dr. Moreau, who has plans for him. He meets and almost falls for the feminine charms of a beautiful woman named Lota, and then discovers exactly what Moreau is up to on the island.

Based on H.G. Wells’ novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, this movie, directed by Erle C. Kenton, remains one of the few horror movies of the thirties that still delivers the jolts. The many strange faces of the animal-men on the island are geniuinely creepy, the bestiality subplot very unsettling (I suspect that this contributed to both the movie being banned in several areas and Wells’ dislike for this adaptation of his work), and denouement is truly nightmarish. I love Charles Laughton’s work as Moreau; he underplays the role and gives his character the traits of being offhand, relaxed and casual at inappropriate times, which just makes him all the creepier. Kathleen Burke was a good choice for the role of Lota, and she is quite effective. Bela Lugosi is here with one of his better supporting roles as the Sayer of the Law, and there are rumors that Randolph Scott, Buster Crabbe and Alan Ladd can all be found in there somewhere. A real classic.

“Not to spill blood. That is the law. Are we not men?”

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