The Island of Dr. Moreau
Screenplay: Al Ramrus and John Herman Shaner
Release: Olive Films
Fun fact, I have never read this book before, but I knew the story. This movie is much better than the story I knew.
The Island of Dr. Moreau, based on the H.G. Wells novel, stars Academy Award winner Burt Lancaster (Best Actor, Elmer Gantry – 1961) as the titular doctor in this screen adaptation that also features Michael York (Cabaret) and Barbara Carrera (Never Say Never Again).
Following a shipwreck, crewman Andrew Braddock (York) washes up on a mysterious island ruled by the seemingly benevolent Dr. Moreau (Lancaster). Braddock will learn that this “man of science” has been testing a serum on the island animals which is able to transform them into near-human beings. As the deranged doctor slips ever closer to insanity, Braddock’s plans to escape the island along with Maria (Carrera), another of the doctor’s guests, is thwarted at every turn. Has Braddock’s discovery come too late? And at what cost?
Rounding out the cast in this top-notch horror film are Nigel Davenport (Phase IV) as Montgomery, Dr. Moreau’s right-hand man, and Richard Basehart (TV’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) as the island’s Sayer of the Law.
The Island of Dr. Moreau, directed by Don Taylor (Damien: Omen II) from a screenplay by Al Ramrus and John Herman Shaner (based on the novel by H.G. Wells), is photographed by Gerry Fisher (Fedora, Don Giovanni) and features a score by Academy Award nominee Laurence Rosenthal (Becket – 1965, Man of La Mancha – 1973).
This release is a bit of a puzzle. There is a Blu-ray edition of this film by another company but here we have a new Olive release on DVD and near as I can tell it is still in print, but the MGM DVD was recently discontinued. So why should you buy this Olive DVD versus other companies Blu-ray? I don’t know. I don’t have the Blu, but I do have the DVD and that is enough for me.
Based on some reviews and screenshots of the Blu it appears that they are the same restoration and I am afraid that I crisper scan of the film might lessen the impact of the film. The value of this film, aside of the important moral story, is the make-up and creature effects. The film is visually appealing, but, there are other visually appealing, sci-fi, make-up heavy, films that I would rather watch and would gladly upgrade as new formats bubble into my living room.
So, should you fork over your hard-earned money for this? I sadly must shrug. You already know if you are interested in the film, my opinion won’t change that. It is well made, and the release is fine, but not something that I would pre-order, I might buy it on sale, so, shrug.
New audio commentary with Jeff Belanger and Dr. Dreck
“The Island of Doctor Moreau as Theological Grotesque” – essay by Gorman Beauchamp
Director: 7 – Cinematography: 6 – Edit: 5 – Parity: 1 – Main performance: 9 – Else performance: 6 – Score: 5 – Sound: 6 – Story: 10 – Script: 6 – Effects: 7 – Design: 9 – Costumes: 8 – Keeps interest: 7 – Lasting: 10