Film (1932). Paramount. Directed by Erle C Kenton. Written by Waldemar Young, Philip Wylie, based on The Island of Dr Moreau (1896) by H G Wells. Cast includes Richard Arlen, Kathleen Burke, Leila Hyams, Alan Ladd, Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi and Randolph Scott. 72 minutes. Black and white.
Though somewhat altered from the Wells original, and adding such Hollywood touches as a seductive Panther Girl, this memorable film incorporates much of the novel's moody atmosphere. A young man is marooned on an Island where he is found by his fiancée and where the leering, whip-cracking Moreau (Laughton), by means of vivisection and other cruel medical techniques, is trying to turn animals into men. (Wells disliked the depiction of his twisted idealist, Moreau, as a sadist.) The pathetic beast-men – rendered with first-rate and often horrific make-up – are kept in check by their belief that Moreau is a god. But, when they see him murdering his human assistant and thereby breaking one of his own commandments, their fear of him dissolves and they carry him off to the House of Pain – the laboratory where they were all created – and wreak bloody, surgical vengeance. A remake was The Island of Dr Moreau (1977). [JB]
see also: Monster Movies.
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