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Island of Lost Souls

Criterion Collection

4.5 out of 5 stars 431 ratings

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October 25, 2011
Criterion Collection
1
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Editorial Reviews

A twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday, Island of Lost Souls is a cautionary tale of science run amok adapted from H. G. Wells’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. In one of his first major movie roles, Charles Laughton (The Private Life of Henry VIII) is a mad doctor conducting ghastly genetic experiments on a remote island in the South Seas, much to the fear and disgust of the shipwrecked sailor (Richard Arlen) who finds himself trapped there. This touchstone of movie terror, directed by Erle C. Kenton (House of Frankenstein), is elegantly shot by Karl Struss (The Great Dictator), features groundbreaking makeup effects that inspired generations of monster-movie artists, and costars Bela Lugosi (Dracula) in one his most gruesome roles.

Product details

  • Is Discontinued By Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ No
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ Unrated (Not Rated)
  • Product Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 0.7 x 7.5 x 5.4 inches; 3.98 Ounces
  • Item model number ‏ : ‎ CRRN2069DVD
  • Director ‏ : ‎ Erle C. Kenton
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Multiple Formats, Full Screen, NTSC, Black & White, Subtitled
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ October 25, 2011
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi, George Irving
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ English
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Criterion Collection
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B005D0RDKM
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 431 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
431 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

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Reviewed in the United States on October 27, 2011
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5.0 out of 5 stars A PRE-CODE MACABRE MASTERPIECE
By Anthony Crnkovich on October 27, 2011
Among all the classic horror films produced in that remarkable period during the early '30s, Paramount's ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932) surely remains as one of the most potent in terms of both subject matter and style.

The story concerns a scientist conducting surgical experiments on animals in an attempt to transform them into human beings. Adapted from H.G. Wells' book, "The Island of Dr. Moreau", this film version is unanimously considered to be the best - there were two subsequent remakes in 1977 and 1996. The premise has been re-worked in many films, most notably in TERROR IS A MAN (1959).

ISLAND OF LOST SOULS was directed by Erle C. Kenton, who is known primarily as a competent enough director of B-films. This superbly crafted work is the exception. Kenton excels in his handling of the Philip Wylie/Waldemar Young script by keeping the pace brisk (the film runs just 70 minutes), and by sustaining a genuine aura of eeriness and suspense. The bravura cinematography by Karl Struss is rich with ominous, expressionistic shadows and yet is sensuously lush at the same time.

Charles Laughton's underplayed portrayal of Dr. Moreau is the most twisted mad scientist ever, and is definitely one of this great actor's finest performances. Richard Arlen is perfect as the bewildered castaway who challenges the doctor's unethical goals. The film also benefits by the strong presence of two lovely female characters: Leila Hyams, who is very Fay Wray-ish as Arlen's fiancee, and Kathleen Burke as the Panther Woman, Moreau's most near-perfect creation. Burke in particular is touching and tragic; the most lost of all the souls on the forsaken island. In a truly fearsome role, Bela Lugosi - sporting terrific hirsute makeup - scores high as the inwardly as well as outwardly tortured "Sayer of the Law" and leader of the mutant beast-men. The makeup effects in the creation of Moreau's unfortunate "manimals" was among the most innovative of the era.

The blu-ray of this bona-fide classic was transferred off the finest elements from three sources: a 35mm fine-grain positive, a 35mm nitrate positive, and a 16mm print. The result is a fabulous looking film, the finest it's ever likely to look - and sound. The audio is clean, clear, and crisp. The great opening title music, played over splashing waves that reveal the credits, is restored in all its moody ambience. And, speaking of music, it's noteworthy that this film contains none - except for the brief cues at the beginning and end titles - yet it doesn't suffer in the least dramatically for lack of a score.

This much welcome edition from Criterion contains an illustrated booklet with an essay by Christine Smallwood. The special features include an engaging commentary by historian Gregory Mank, a conversation between director John Landis, makeup artist Rick Baker, and collector Bob Burns. There are also interviews with writer/historian David Skal, Richard Stanley, director of the inferior '96 remake, and members of the band Devo, including their musical short film from 1976. The original theatrical trailer and a stills gallery wrap up the extras.

Fans of ISLAND OF LOST SOULS know just what a cherished release this is. For others interested in tracking down the finest classic horror films, this one's a no-brainer. See it - "that is the Law."
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Classicmovieman
1.0 out of 5 stars Image quality poor
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Boy are we lucky.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 27, 2012
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Trevor Willsmer
5.0 out of 5 stars "Do you know what it means to feel like God?"
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 11, 2011
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Glen
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - But The Book Is Better!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2012
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nobladeofgrass
5.0 out of 5 stars blu ray +dvd uk region.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 9, 2013
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