What is the law, Groovy Ghoulies? If you know, then you have visited the fog-encrusted Island of Lost Souls. If you don’t know, this is a movie worth checking out. Paramount Pictures released this film in 1932 and it is based on the book, “The Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells. An author we will revisit a few times more. I think the studios were really starting to get the hang of these kinds of movies with this great film.
The story is about Edward Parker, a survivor of a shipwreck getting thrown into Dr. Moreau’s boat. Moreau sees potential in Parker and brings him back to his island. We learn that this Dr. is quite mad (aren’t they all?). He is conducting experiments to turn animals into humans with various degrees of success and failure. He hopes to mate Parker with Lota. Lota is discovered to be a panther that has turned into a woman. Will Moreau mate them? Does he take good care of his animal-men? And what about Edward Parker’s fiancee, Ruth who comes to the island to search for him?
I had a lot of fun watching this one. I grew up with the 70s version that starred Burt Lancaster. I always loved that version, and it’s nice to watch the original. The set pieces are minimal, I think. The House of Pain, where Dr. Moreau does his experiment, has all kinds of sharp knifes and things you would expect from a mad scientist lab. There’s also cages, and walls with vines growing on them. It reminded me a lot of the sets of The Dharma Initiative from the TV show, Lost. I wonder if they were fans?
The cast meshed well together. I found Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau, a real fun character. It seemed his craziness was just on the edges. He seemed to be a decent guy in private, but his genius was just madness. Richard Arlen as Edward Parker was decent. I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything else, and he did his job as the hero well enough. Not enough of his performance jumped out at me.
There are two other people of the cast, I would like to mention. Kathleen Burke played Lota The Panther Woman. She was a dental assistant that won a contest held by Paramount Pictures, and her first role was this movie. I don’t know if she took any lessons but she was great in this. She would go on to star with Cary Grant and Gary Cooper before retiring at age 25, making 21 pictures in just 7 years!
And of course, Bela Lugosi as the Sayer of The Law. You have to listen for his voice, as he is almost unrecognizable here. I find it interesting that he was not happy with the Frankenstein make-up but wouldn’t mind having his face hidden by all the hair he wears. He doesn’t have a huge part in this, and he has a few good lines reciting the laws of Dr. Moreau. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of him in some of the movies to come.
Our toy this time, would fit in great on The Island of Lost Souls. Released in 1978 by Tomy, “Mighty Men & Monster Maker” brought hours of entertainment. I had forgotten about this one, until I was going through a recent magazine and saw a picture of it. Ahhh, the memories it brought back. There were plastic pieces with
stencils or imprints of heads, bodies, and legs. You could put any combination together to make your own super heroes, monsters, or super monsters! Then you would put a piece of paper on top of the combination. Using the different colored pencils, you would shade it out, making a rubbing of all the different pieces. It was hours of fun, and I can only imagine the creations I came up with. Anyone have one of these, and would like to share some of their creations, forward them to me!
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with your stories, comments, questions. I would love to hear from you.
Also, check out the Fright Channel online. They show a lot of great trailers and movies, and bring back monster TV the way we remember it. http://www.horrorhaven.com!!
I’m off to go change a lion into a puppy now. So, until next time, watch the skies!