Island of Lost Souls | Chicago Reader

Island of Lost Souls

One of the best-kept secrets in rock criticism is that all of Devo's original act—from the “de-evolution” rap down to the chant of “Are we not men?”—was a straight cop from this 1933 adaptation of H.G. Wells's Island of Dr. Moreau. Charles Laughton, with an obscene caterpillar mustache, is the mad doctor working on the transformation of animals into (sub)human beings by means of sickening “surgical techniques”; Richard Arlen and Leila Hyams are two shipwreck survivors who, unsuspecting, wash up on his shore. It's a grand, hokey chiller, dripping with sex and sadism and photographed in dense, Sternbergian shadows by the great cinematographer Karl Struss. With Bela Lugosi as the leader of the pack, and Kathleen Burke as the unforgettably insinuating Leopard Woman. Erle C. Kenton directed. 70 min.

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