Welcome to my review of Island of Lost Souls 1932.
…From the classic novel by H.G. Wells…
Starring: Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen
Directed by: Erle C. Kenton
Ratings: Internet Movie Data Base; 7.6/10 …Rotten Tomatoes; 96%
Our Rating; 8/10
Island of Lost Souls (1932). A man who’s become shipwrecked is picked up at sea by a freighter carrying a cargo of wild animals, on it’s way to the uncharted island of a Dr. Moreau.
After recovering he’s able to send a message to his fiancé letting her know he is ok and will be taken to Apia where they’re planning to be married.
However things take an unfortunate turn…
After a dispute with the hostile captain while trying to stick up for an unusual looking deck hand, the passenger, Edward Parker is knocked out and thrown overboard while they are docked with Moreau’s vessel.
(The special effect of replacing the actor with a dummy and the impossibly painful way it lands on deck is unintentionally hilarious).
Island of the Grotesque…
Parker is now a guest of the obliging Dr. Moreau and his crew of primitive beast-like “men”. Arriving on the island it’s evident that there are more of these creatures…they’re all around! They inhabit the jungle, caves, trees and even act as servants to Moreau at his “house”.
This house is more of a zoo-like compound with more wild animals in cages and jungle vines and plants growing everywhere.
Soon the mysterious doctors’ plans are revealed when he introduces Parker to the Panther Woman -“Lota”, a beautiful and exotic “native” of the island. It’s Moreau’s plan that they should mate to engage in a deranged scientific experiment.
and the Tragic!
It’s around here we are introduced to the “house of pain” as terrible, torturous screams are heard which don’t sound fully human. Parker investigates and is shocked by what he finds. Thinking he’ll be next he decides to flee Moreau’s zoological laboratory and take Lota with him.
They race through the perilous jungle with the intent of escaping on one of Moreau’s boats. However, it’s there that they stumble upon the full extent, the horror’s of the island!
Aside from an average performance by leading man Richard Arlen (Parker), the remaining cast are excellent with Charles Laughton (Moreau) turning out a performance he seems to have been born for. It’s surely one of cinemas all time classic villains.
Bela Lugosi as the Sayer of the Law is brilliant also, as is Kathleen Burke (The Panther Woman), who won the role in a contest of 60,000 auditions! Her character Lota exudes both sensuality and innocence in the one. Ultimately we are left to feel deep sympathy for her plight.
It’s regrettable there are no sound effects during physical encounters as it’s noticeably lacking. The fight between the captain and Parker for example and later, Montgomery being pounced on from atop the trees.
A controversial piece in it’s time due to the ethical/religious material it presents and the incredible creature make-up, the film was banned in some countries upon release and knocked by the critics.
However, it stands to this day as a brilliant horror classic.
Thank you for reading my review of Island of Lost Souls 1932. Please feel free to offer your opinion or any other comments in the space below.