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Island of Lost Souls (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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The transfer itself really does stand with the best that Criterion has done. Anyone expecting a transfer clean of all dirt and scratches is setting themselves up for disappointment (and I can't imagine why anyone would want this film in that "clean" of a version, regardless). But this is the most pristine I've ever seen. It is superior to every other home video release by a wide margin. I doubt the film has looked this good since its original theatrical run. Although, my guess is that this is about the best format for the film. I wonder if a lot of these older films that have been restored will hold up when we get up to bigger formats in the future. My guess is most of them won't hold at a 3K or 4K resolution. But this is absolutely gorgeous.
What really struck me was the re-mastered mono track for the audio. It is some of the clearest I've heard from the era. So many times with movies from the 30s and 40s it sounds like the actors are speaking through two tin cans connected by a string. Here, the voices and effects are clear and ever present.Read more ›
In 1932, Paramount Pictures made one of their few horror titles, Island of Lost Souls, based on the H. G. Wells classic, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Even today, the film emerges as an intelligent and extremely creepy exercise in unspeakable horror. One of Hollywood's sadly forgotten leading men, Richard Arlen, plays Edward Parker, a hapless traveler set adrift, who is rescued by a freighter delivering supplies to an island ruled by Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton). After an argument with the ship's captain, Parker is stranded on the island, and the terror unfolds.
More of the plot should not be revealed to the uninitiated; let's just say that Bela Lugosi will surprise you with his amazing performance as Keeper of the Law and Charles Laughton, one of my favorite actors, was rarely better. When you learn the full secret of the island, the concept of the House of Pain and Lugosi's chant, "What is the Law?" will cause chills to run down your spine. The answers to Lugosi's chant, "Not to spill blood" and "Are we not men" are as downright creepy as films from this period get, especially in light of Dr. Moreau's unholy experiments.Read more ›
As for the movie itself, Laughton couldn't be better. He owns Dr. Moreau the way Sean Connery owns James Bond. No one could do effete aristocratic evil better than he.
Yes, the panther woman is made up to look a little nightclubby, and Stanley Fields (the drunken captain of the ship) and Paul Hurst (the garrulous captain of the rescue ship) ham it up a bit in their character parts, but was there ever a more terrifying scene than the one in which Richard Arlen first lays eyes on the animal-men?
I haven't seen every remake of this story, but the Burt Lancaster (1977) and Marlon Brando (1996) versions aren't in the same league. In fact, even without comparison to the Laughton version, both of them are pretty bad.
I've seen this film fifty times and look forward to watching it again when the disc arrives. I'll be sure to invite my dad, who saw it when it came out (at age 7) and now (at age 85) says no other movie ever filled him with such profound fear.
Look for the theological themes. It has only been in my more recent viewings that they manifest themselves so clearly to me.
Bela Lugosi should have won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the Sayer of the Law . . . "Are we not MEN?"
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really liked this movie. It has Bela, Laughton, Liana Hyms, and other charactors that really give it their all. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Herb Salisbury
Great early horror film based on a great novel. If you like creepy, this is for you!Published 8 months ago by Howard W. Celnik
This first film version of H.G. Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau stars Charles Laughton as Moreau, a dedicated but sadly-misguided scientist who rules the... Read more