Island of Lost Souls (1932)
The Island of the Lost Souls is a bizarre film. Based on HG Well’s ‘The Island of Dr Moreau’, it is the first and only successful adaptation of the novel (anyone remember the Michael Yorke version, nope - didn’t think so). Charles Laughton is well, almost delicious as the main villain Dr Moreau, He doesn’t fail to go camp, more like ‘evil Oscar Wilde’, and maintains the stance throughout. It’s a creepy portrayal of pure decadence. The movie has had a bizarre production history. Look closely and you’ll see ‘the Sayer of the Law’, is actually Bela Lugosi, bankrupt, after two years riding Dracula’s fame. The themes of vivisection eerily mirror those of Mengler, during WW2, and though not cognizant of the fact, it makes the viewer uneasy, as Moreau tries to create a ‘master race’. The film - as well—is a sister effort to Todd Browning’s ‘Freaks’ - a failed effort with similar themes and conclusion released earlier that year.
Leila Hyam, the lead in The Island of Lost Souls, plays a character similar of that of her main character in Freaks. Made before the introduction of the Hayes Code, it is chilling and horrific in its deviancy. I mean ‘the pain room’ - as creatures are led ff to be experimented on by Moreau - you don’t see the horror - you feel it when you hear the chilling screams of those being operated on. And hey - we can’t forget the huge influence the movie had on Devo who entitled their debut album ‘Are We Not Men?’ from the chant of the creatures. It’s one of the creepiest horror movies err evah.