Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau

We’ve heard all the insane rumours and scandals attached to the ill-fated 1996 remake of H.G. Wells’ THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. How director Richard Stanley spent four years developing the project only to be fired after four days of shooting and replaced by John Frankenheimer and how headliner Marlon Brando impacted on that decision. Now for the first time the living key players recount what really happened and why it all went so spectacularly wrong. Stanley spills the juicy beans, stars Fairuza Balk and Rob Morrow give revealing interviews, New Line head Robert Shaye, producers Ed Pressman and Tim Zinnemann chime in and numerous crew from both versions add their reminiscences. David Gregory’s epic documentary is also a veritable encyclopaedia of behind the scenes footage, concept art and storyboards, creature designs, makeup tests and candid photos to illustrate the shocking tale of eccentric artist vs. Hollywood machine.

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  • ★★★½ review by Matt Singer on Letterboxd

    The Clusterfuck Of DOCTOR MOREAU; a solid making-of doc, and the CITIZEN KANE of people telling batshit crazy Marlon Brando stories.

  • ★★★★ review by Hollie Horror on Letterboxd

    After suffering through the 1996 version of The Island of Dr. Moreau, it was an absolute treat to watch something so entertaining with the added bonus of being a film that held such juicy, hilarious gossip about the making of the shitty movie I had just watched.

    Sure, I could have used a bit more information, especially considering the fact that David Thewlis wasn't interviewed...or even mentioned at all, but the lack of detail was almost made up for with anecdotes about Richard Stanley, Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer.

    After Bob Shaye (founder at Newline) almost reluctantly indulged us with the most hilarious thing I have ever heard, I spent the rest of the night laughing about it. (Documentary Spoilers: Marlon Brando wanted to add a twist to the end of The Island of Dr Moreau, where he takes off a hat and reveals that he was really a dolphin the entire time.)

    If I could leave anyone with any bit of advice, it would be for Bob Shaye to not wear that dingy looking red sweater with greasy hair combo while clearing his throat of mucus as he's being interviewed, he looks like he's getting into character in hopes to portray Freddy Krueger in a new sequel. That was unnecessarily mean, but I gotta get this self-hatred out by any means possible.

    Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau is on American Netflix and worth a watch if you enjoy things like laughing and Wicca.

  • ★★★½ review by nathaxnne walker on Letterboxd

    Although I would have LOVED for the world to have had a mid-90's Richard Stanley Island Of Dr. Moreau I am probably one of the few people (cast and crew of the film that was made included) to be even happier that the thoroughly mad big-budget studio disaster version we have exists. Most films like this get shut down and indeed there were forces at work trying to shut down this movie but it was in the end completed and the psychedelic collision of powers that were resulted in something that can be truly said to be without controlling authorship. Things happen in this movie that are not normally allowed to happen in Hollywood movies, things that are sovereign, which happen just because they did that day and people went along with them in order to make them happen. I saw Island Of Dr. Moreau when it was new in theatres and I could not believe what I had just witnessed and that sensation of stepping out of the theatre into the subtropical heat of 1996 Gulf Coast Florida, completely dazed and attempting to process is a state which has never left me, 21+ years later. Richard Stanley paid the most dearly for what occurred and the fact that we have not had a steady stream of Richard Stanley movies over the past 21+ years makes me the saddest and the anger and sorrow evinced by Fairuza Balk in her tears of fury and loss is painful to watch. What the world was given were the most eccentric performances of both Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer who apparently were locked in a fatal death-spiral with one another. This is one of my favorite movies which I have watched again and again, fascinated that it exists at all. I am sure this is cold comfort to anyone who put their heart and soul into the Richard Stanley film only to have it deliquesce into a seemingly never-ending nightmare. For that I am deeply sorry but know that 1996's Island Of Dr. Moreau has a lifelong fan in me, not because it is a terrible movie but because it is an awesome movie, something that never should have been yet lives, which makes it the MOST fitting adaptation of its source material in a way that would have been impossible to render through intentional acts.

    PS: As a final note I must say that having watched now a bunch of footage of one of Richard Stanley's bookshelves, there is A LOT of overlap with my own now dearly departed library, even down to specific editions which in one sense seems like of course given age/interests but then also seems somewhat eerie too? It is like being put in that position where at a party in someone's house you don't know very well and are extremely nervous you check out their library/music collection and then really like that person based upon what you find there even though you haven't really talked at all and might not ever? Like that. I haven't even really READ books since sometime in the mid-00's because all I do is watch horror movies and carry on about them in the fashion that you, dear readers, have come to know and largely tolerate! <3

  • ★★★★ review by Joe on Letterboxd

    The infamous late-90s film adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau is a textbook example of what happens when you combine way too much money with way too little artistic passion. My reaction when I heard they were making a documentary about it was similar to what I imagine most people in the general populace's would be: "Why?" But that question gets cleared up within minutes of the beginning of this, as it becomes abundantly evident that Richard Stanley wasn't just some director who got fired off of a movie, but a guy whose career, maybe even his entire life had been leading up to his chance to tell this story, to capture violent dog-person births onscreen and to lick the blood up afterwards. He lost the job, but he also lost a lot more than that - I'm reminded of the Sturgill Simpson lyric: "Some say you might go crazy, but then again it might make you go sane."

  • ★★★½ review by Mr. DuLac on Letterboxd

    Knowing that the odds were stacked against me, I resorted to witchcraft.

    -Richard Stanley

    I should have known between the douchebaggery of Val Kilmer and the eccentricities of Marlon Brando that the production behind the 1996 adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau was as crazy as the film itself.

    I had never read up on any of it so the doc was full of revelations for me and the real story of director Richard Stanley is crazier then anything that could have been made up. This film does have serious side effects though, it made me order The Island of Dr. Moreau online.

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