Island of the Lost Souls (1932)

Erle C. Kenton directs Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen and Leila Hyams in this horror adaptation of H.G. Wells’ Doctor Moreau.

Still stands as the best adaptation set in this mad scientist and his tribe of freakish experiments world. You can see its obvious influence on next year’s King Kong in the build-up at sea and in the ports, the set-up is similar yet what horrors each island holds divergent. Once we are on the island it is Charles Laughton’s show, although Bela Lugosi does make an impression as the near unrecognisable Sayer of the Law. The heroes are a little less stiff than you’d expect from a production of this era. Though being “pre-code” they are allowed to have flaws, desires and lusts so there’s actually more for them to do than listen to a ranting megalomaniac monologue and plot. It plays far less creakier say than Dracula or The Most Dangerous Game, probably would make a fine double bill with the equally vibrant and unsettling Tod Browning’s Freaks. The monsters on the rampage finale is still surprisingly intense. Lugosi’s furry face and desperate eyes glaring at you right through the camera genuinely is the stuff of nightmares.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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