A behind the scenes chronicle of how clash of vision, bad creative decisions, lack of interest and really bad weather plagued the disastrous production of the infamous L’île du docteur Moreau (1996).
User Reviews: Having been a fan of Jurassic Park and Batman Forever as a kid, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) looked, from the TV advertisements, like the next big thing. Look at those creatures! On an island! Starring Val Kilmer and some woman (I assumed) named Marlon Brando! In fact, the film was widely panned and derided when it came out. When I saw it with my younger sister, it was more violent than I expected, a bit of a mess, but I definitely appreciated what it was trying to do. My sister totally disliked it; maybe she had better sense in this case.
Lost Soul (a title paying nice homage to the original film, The Island of Lost Souls) is an engaging documentary dedicated to studying how the film went so far off track, and it is more insane than I realized. There’s some good brief discussion of the novel and earlier film attempts. Then, to the meat of the picture. I’m not even sure if I would have liked Richard Stanley’s original vision; the sketches are exceedingly trippy and the thought of the protagonist getting his genitals bit off during bestiality is so far out there. It’s still fascinating to see what went wrong.
A lot of it is bizarre- the fact that Stanley went to a witch doctor to make sure he stayed on the film, and the fact that he credited it with working, says it all. You can see the injustice in Stanley finally being fired because it was raining, according to this documentary (I heard it was because of Kilmer), but then, there’s definite evidence he had broken down, going by this anecdote that he had climbed a tree and wouldn’t come down. It’s really striking how many people came onto the project, or stayed on, despite not wanting to be there. The gong show goes on- Kilmer and Brando locking themselves in their trailer and refusing to come out until the other does. One person remarks it would be a huge achievement to finally have a film with a beginning, a middle and an end- they succeeded. I think I would have enjoyed this doc even more if I was in total agreement that The Island of Dr. Moreau sucked- but certainly, the making of it was a trainwreck, too fascinating to look away from.