Guest Movie Review: Island of Lost Souls

imageeliBy Eli Sanchez
Guest Contributor
Silver Screen Capture

Eric C. Kenton’s 1932 adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic novel Island of Dr. Moreau is re-titled for MGM as The Island of Lost Souls (B-) and follows the story of Richard Arlen’s character, Edward Parker, inexplicably found lost at sea by a crew of merchant seamen. We never quite know why he’s lost, and you assume we’re going to see the story in flashback; but as it turns out, it just starts out that way, and Parker is eventually thrown off of the ship after engaging in a tussle with the alcoholic captain and is thrown overboard as cargo is being unloaded onto this mysterious island that technically is so small it doesn’t exist on any nautical maps yet we think it’s in the South Pacific somewhere and there resides a mad scientist experimenting on animals. Enter Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau, doing his best Anton LeVey impression with a sardonic Van Dyke beard, and a nasty little bullwhip he keeps secured to his belt that he uses to keep the other actors from chewing up the scenery around him. Bela Lugosi plays against type wearing a fur-covered mask and credited as “Sayer of the Law” in his thick Hungarian accent (“Are we not men?”). Naturally given that these are essentially animals being turned into humans and the so-called island seems to be out in the South Pacific, it goes without saying that Hungarian would be the default accent that would result. The film was made on a very tight set and feels very claustrophobic and unsettling, which was very key to its creepiness.

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I've reviewed films for more than 20 years. Current movie reviews of new theatrical releases and direct-to-video or streaming films are added weekly to the Silver Screen Capture movie news site. Many capsule critiques originally appeared in expanded form in my syndicated Lights Camera Reaction column.

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Posted in 1932, Eli Sanchez, Eli Sanchez Guest Review, Rent It Tonight

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