Tuesday, November 1, 2011

10-30-11: He Ain't Dr. Doolittle

ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932) ***1/2 D: Erle C. Kenton. Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen, Kathleen Burke.

A shipwreck survivor finds himself on the mysterious island of Dr. Moreau and encounters the infamous scientist and the island's strange inhabitants.

Based on the novel by H.G. Wells, this early adaptation doesn't dwell on the creatures as later versions have. It approaches events scientifically and draws the horror from the ramifications of what has been done. It really focuses on the characters and I like how events unfold realistically. The science seems sound, especially when watching it from a 21st century perspective.

Laughton chews the scenery as Moreau. Equally sinister, creepy and mad. Kathleen Burke is memorable as the Panther Woman, Lota. Her attempts to seduce Parker are sweet, sexy and awkward. Part woman, part beast...still qualifies as beastiality? Lugosi appears as the Sayer of the Law and makes due with the part.

Dark and atmospheric, it is easily the best of the adaptations that is far more memorable then the latter versions.

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