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Island of Lost Souls

Not a great success at the time, probably because its horror is more intellectual than graphic, this adaptation of HG Wells' The Island of Dr Moreau (repudiated by the novelist, and originally banned in Britain) is nevertheless a remarkably powerful film. Laughton is magnificently repellent as the fiendish doctor whose evolutionary experiments, involving painful vivisectional graftings, have resulted in a pitiful island community of hideous man-beasts. Satanically bearded, the epitome of imperialist arrogance in his immaculate white ducks, the whip-toting Moreau rules his 'natives' through rituals of fear and pain; and in a subplot that suffuses the film with a perverse erotic sadism, he indulges his intellectual curiosity by plotting to mate a human (Arlen) with the beautiful girl he has created from a panther (Burke), but who is already reverting to her animal state. In the delirious final sequence, superbly staged and shot by Karl Struss as the 'natives' rebel and drag the screaming Laughton away to his own 'House of Pain', the film's subversive spirit surfaces with a real vengeance.

Release details

Duration: 72 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Erle C Kenton
Screenwriter: Waldemar Young, Philip Wylie
Cast: Charles Laughton
Richard Arlen
Leila Hyams
Kathleen Burke
Bela Lugosi
Stanley Fields
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