The Island of Doctor Moreau is a remake of 1932's Island of Lost Souls and, of course, an adaptation of H.G. Wells's classic tale of the dangers of playing God. Shipwreck victim Andrew (Michael York) washes up on a tropica... more »l island and is taken in by Dr. Moreau (Burt Lancaster), who lords over a compound staffed by some distinctly odd-looking servants. Also along for the ride are the mysteriously beautiful Maria, menacing shadows in the jungle, and lots and lots of cages in the House of Pain. While not as eerily creepy as its predecessor, The Island of Doctor Moreau has some fun makeup tricks and a good tiger fight or two, not to mention a thorough discussion of legal nuance by the island's "natives" ("What is the law?" "Not to walk on all fours!"). Definitely a fine afternoon's entertainment. Remade in 1996 with Marlon Brando. --Ali Davis« less
Robert S. Clay Jr. | St. Louis, MO., USA | 11/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Samuel Z. Arkoff, venerable producer of B sci-fi/horror flicks, presents this straightforward version of the H. G. Wells story. The best thing this flick has going for it is Burt Lancaster as Moreau. Moreau conducts forbidden experiments in vivisection, tampering with the genetics of animals. Moreau soon converts to evil action after shipwrecked Braddock (Michael York) stumbles into Moreau's bizarre island kingdom. The results of Moreau's failed experiments are horrific half-human/half-animal creatures that walk upright as men and howl in the distance. The best scene unfolds when Braddock finds the cave of the animal-men, and is threatened with violence. Moreau shows up tall and god-like on a convenient ledge. He commands the Sayer of the Law (Richard Basehart) to articulate the island code, "What is the Law?" The spitting wolf-man replies, "Not to go on all fours. Not to shed blood. etc." Each part of the jungle litany is answered by the refrain, "Are we not men?" Moreau has found through his work that the savage beast stubbornly reasserts itself. The creatures are on the brink of devolution. Worse yet, shedding blood would evoke the call of the wild on the island. "His is the House of Pain, His the Hand that Hurts," is the spoken warning that keeps the manimals in line. Moreau, it seems, wields the knife to surgically correct backward evolution, but also as punishment. Increasing beastiality leads to inevitable death, violence, and decimation on the island. Delectable eye-candy, Barbara Carrera, is around for romantic interludes. There is some mild nudity. Great fun for B movie sci-fi fans. Sensible viewers beware. ;-)"
Paul-Christian Roberts | Beverly Hills, Ca | 10/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For those who may read...please check the three other reviews also enjoyable on this site. This gem from '77 was the seminal movie experience I had as a young teenager. It actually made me want to become an actor! You had York leading the way as "Andrew Braddock"...curious, intelligent and completely empathetic. Then there was Burt ("dandy" as Judith Christ called him) as the doc of evil machinations. Then supporting the duo were Davenport, Basehart, and the exquisitely lovely Barbara Carrera. This was probably workman director Don Taylor's best film. The scenery-lensed by Gerry Fisher-is gorgeous, Laurence Rosenthal's music score also one of his very best. (That haunting English horn...) The French loved this, but the American critics and audience were much more tepid. I think it's a well-made and intelligent adventure, which raises some serious issues at the same time providing first class entertainment. Lancaster and York made a handsome duo. I loved this remake, and will never forget that dinghy in the open water as the film begins..."
Philosophical Tale Well Told
W. Attwell | Toronto, ON CANADA | 11/12/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This version of the classic H.G. Wells tale is infinitely superior to the '96 remake. It sustains its reputation because, like all enduring films, it is character driven. In no way do the the creature effects, which are adequately effective, take precedence over the actors' abilities.
The scene where Braddock (Michael York), confined to a cage, struggles to assert his willpower in recounting his childhood memories, remains a truly convincing piece of cinematic acting.
The DVD version, however, is supposedly in widescreen. That's W--I--D--E--S--C--R--E--E--N, ladies and gentlemen. The peripheral view here has been simply narrowed, with the black bars at the top and bottom serving no other purpose than to further restrict a viewer's access to more of the original picture. Is it to censor out the fleeting exposure of Barbara Carrera's nipple? (Nah, can't be... that'd be ridiculous.)
Perhaps the persons at MGM responsible for this DVD transfer should be sent on a retraining course to better understand the concept of widescreen format. Use of the term "widescreen" with regards to this DVD version is basically misrepresentation. The VHS Full Screen version actually provides more picture acreage.
Regardless, the film itself succeeds well in its conveyance of the dangers of amoral scientific advancement, the subjugation of perceived inferiors, and the inhumane versus the humane, all in an entertaining manner."
Back to the Island
Humberto M. Ferre | Miami, FL United States | 08/19/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This Late 70's update of The Island of Lost Souls ( wisely retaining H.G. Well's original title) offers up two reunions in addition to its tropical horrors. Make-up artist John Chambers reunites with Don Taylor (both having worked on Escape from the Planet of the Apes in 1971) for this tepid but watchable adaption. Post's indifferent directing sabutages numerous potential horror moments, especially in the revelation of the various Humanimals on the island. The make-up seems dated even for its time (The Apes in Planet of the Apes look better) but perhaps that is why MGM had released this under its cheesy Midnite Movies banner.Castwise, Micheal York does a better job then most have done with that role in other film versions but Barbera Carrea's character suffers from underexposure (well, dramatically speaking) and the hints of her origins are never properly addressed in the movie. Burt Lanchaster plays a formidable and active Moreau and his performance is by far the best in the film. Worth noting, the movie reunited him with former circus buddy Nick Cravat; costar of earlier films w/ Lanchaster such as The Crimson Pirate and The Flame and the Arrow.In comparison to other film versions, this one plays very well, albiet somewhat lackluster. Not as zany as the 1996 film and certainly an improvement on the 1933 film. The DVD features a solid transfer although there are 2 blue film blemishes that appear very fast. The disc is pretty bare bones with only the trailer as a supplement. But for 9.99 one can not complain. If you're already a fan of the film, then get it."
Lancaster better than Brando
Humberto M. Ferre | 07/15/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you saw the Kilmer/Brando version I urge you to see this version. Burt Lancaster is excelent as Dr. Moreau and York does fine work as Prendick. This movie is more faithful and easier to follow. If you liked the original book by H.G.Wells than skip Brando and see this one instead. Youll be glad you did."