T.V. Party Tonight! 012

T.V. Party Tonight! 012

Friday, 26 February 2016

Ollie Ottoman delves deeply into the three discs which comprise the Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau Special 3-DiscBlu-Rae set.

When I was a kid growing up in the Caribbean, the greatest cultural discovery I experienced was getting cable for the first time. I was in my mid-teens and the concept of cable meant American channels – and that meant American culture. I would waste my days (and nights) devouring television and felt the highs and lows that pop culture told me to experience. Along with that was the anticipation for a movie called The Island of Dr. Moreau. The TV told me to be excited about it so I was. Then the movie didn’t do so well, and I was easily distracted by the newer shiny objects the TV was dangling before my eyes. I moved on and never saw The Island of Dr. Moreau, but it kept lingering subliminally in the back of my mind, decades later. What was that movie all about?
Then, a few months ago, I discovered the podcast How Did This Get Made which provided hearty LOLs as the hosts waxed comedic about terrible movies. Lo and behold, the Island of Dr. Moreau was one of those movies. I downloaded the film, watched it, found it strange, and listened to what the How Did This Get Made folks had to say about it. As it turns out, this movie was plagued by all sorts of problems almost from the beginning and even though the final results are fraught with questionable choices, host Paul Scheer also pointed out that the documentary about the making of this movie, Lost Soul, is a must-watch. I was thoroughly intrigued, watched the documentary, and have since become moderately obsessed with it.

Lost Soul delves deeply into the back story which went into the production of this failed movie. An original idea and script by Richard Stanley, The Island of Dr. Moreau was a modest but ambitious project that quickly snowballed into a huge Hollywood movie with a large budget and an all-star cast. With the stakes so high and the pressures mounting, the entire production started coming apart at the seams as the shooting was plagued by weather problems, set problems, casting problems and a director who was finding it difficult to cope with the circumstances. Sides were quickly chosen between the staff who sided with Richard Stanley and his vision, and the people who thought he was ill-equipped to handle such a large project. The less communicative Stanley became, the less the studio began to trust him and, as the problems mounted, people started abandoning ship. To salvage their project, New Line fired Stanley from the project and brought in new director John Frankenheimer for the sole purpose of herding the staff into finishing the movie. Frankenheimer has to deal with a crew that hates him and is loyal to Stanley but still under contract, and two stars (Brando and Kilmer) who are trying solely to fuck with the production, alienating the crew, rewriting the script, and halting production just to flex their star muscle. Truly, this project was doomed.

Lost Soul tells this story in a compelling, funny, and captivating way, with pacing and storytelling that pulls you in and disturbs you at the same time. Filled with interviews, behind the scenes stories, abandoned storyboards and ideas by Stanley and the production staff, we get the answer to many of the questions that the film and its many odd choices left behind.

Needless to say, I was won by this film but, to top it off, Severin has put out a truly state-of-the art blu ray set. Let’s just go over some of these features shall we? Lost Soul includes bonus interviews with several of the production staff, an explanation by Stanley of the different concept ideas were planned to be utilized, a lost interview with director Frankenheimer, a search of the old set, Barbara Steele’s memories of the movie, a Q & A with Stanley at the Morbido festival in Mexico, a recovered German silent movie based on the novel, an interview with HG Wells historian Sylvia Hardy, Richard Stanley’s thoughts on HG Wells and a reading of the book by Stanley himself. The results are absolutely fascinating and unfortunately pull us further into the dark abyss that is this movie.

Lost Soul is a brilliant and must-see documentary on a strange subject and in many ways the better counterpart of The Island of Dr. Moreau. In the end, it does what the movie itself couldn’t do: it makes it a rich experience that is simply a must-see. [OLLIE OTTOMAN]


Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau Special 3-Disc House of Pain Edition is out now. Buy it here on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Soul-Journey-Richard-Stanleys/dp/B00YXRPP6K/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1456514558&sr=1-2&keywords=lost+soul+the+doomed+journey+of+richard+stanley%27s+island+of+dr.+moreau

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