Saturday, May 27, 2017

Are We Not Men, or Thoughts on Island of Lost Souls

English actor Charles Laughton, most remembered for his performance as Captain Bligh in Mutiny on The Bounty (1935) portrayed the first version of Doctor Moreau in Island of Lost Souls (1932), which also starred Bela Lugosi, fresh off Dracula (1931), as the Sayer of the Law.  A fast-paced, 71-minute film that is surprisingly dark, The Island of Lost Souls focused on the surgical alteration of animals into the semblance of humans, and was controversial at the time for the blasphemous dialogue and (implied) vivisection scenes.  Which seems charmingly na├»ve now that we make movies where mad doctors sew people together to create one long intestinal tract.
All the creatures look like hairy stuntmen in werewolf masks, though Bela is immediately recognizable because of his iconic accent.  Even as a beast-man, he will always sound like the Count.  Watch out for the handgun scene, which Marlon Brando recreates in the 1996 version.  Also watch out for Kathleen Burke, a dental assistant from Chicago who won a movie magazine contest and made her big screen appearance as Lota, the Panther Woman.

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