Thursday, May 18, 2017

Two Legs Good, Four Legs Bad, or Thoughts on The Island of Doctor Moreau

Island of Lost Souls (1932) was a forgotten classic by the time The Island of Doctor Moreau (1977) was filmed with updated makeup and sexier panther-lady hybrids.  From the HG Wells 1896 novel of the same name and director Don Taylor of Escape From Planet of The Apes (1971), the remake starred acting powerhouse Burt Lancaster as Dr. Paul Moreau, the pragmatic intellectual and god-complex maniac who creates his own version of humanity out of random circus animals.
Michael York from Logan’s Run  (1976) is shipwrecked sailor Andrew Braddock, who washes up on the island (St. Croix, if you need to know, and I know you do) and enjoys the doctor’s hospitality in his walled compound, for a time.  It helps that Bond Girl and 70’s supermodel Barbara Carrera is also there, portraying Maria, Doctor Moreau’s ward.  It’s a quirky steampunk variation of The Tempest, and closer to Forbidden Planet (1956) than the 1932 original.  The makeup is Planet of The Apes (1968)-level, that is to say, lots of latex appliances and yak-hair.
Burt Lancaster was one the greatest American actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age, largely remembered for his performances in The Killers (1946), From Here to Eternity (1953), Elmer Gantry (1960), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and Atlantic City (1980).  Also with Nigel Davenport from Chariots of Fire (1981) as Montgomery (Val Kilmer’s role in the 1996 version) while Richard Basehart, Wilton Knight from Knight Rider (1982) took over Bela Lugosi’s role as the Sayer of the Law.

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