Island Of Lost Souls (1932)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1932.  .  Screenplay by , , based on a novel by .      Cinematography by Karl Struss.    Production Design by Hans Dreier.   

Made around the time that exotic horror adventures were extremely popular (The Most Dangerous Game, King Kong), this one features a level of sadism that makes it a particularly fascinating relic of its era.  is saved from a shipwreck and ends up on the shores of an uncharted island where he comes across, what else, a politely mannered but devilish mad scientist (Charles Laughton).  The island is populated with humanoid beasts who are the result of the madman’s fiendish experiments, and he is not above testing their limits in the “House Of Pain”.  Arlen is anxious to leave, naturally, particularly when his girlfriend shows up and challenges his flirtation with the sexy Panther Woman with whom he has become close. The cinematography does such a hellishly good job of keeping everything murky and dark that, unlike other movies of its kind, its impossible to tell that this one was filmed on Hollywood sets. Based on the The Island Of Dr. Moreau by Jules Verne, this is probably the most effective adaptation of the story despite not being among the more faithful.

The Criterion Collection:  #586

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