Audiences must have been shocked by “Island of Lost Souls” back in 1932. Bizarre, daring; a sadistic filled sideshow of strange creatures, and of course the perennial mad doctor. By then, the movies already had two other crazed doctors who believed they had God like power in both James Whale’s “Frankenstein” and Rouben Mamoulian’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Then came Doctor Moreau.
The film is based on H.G Wells nineteenth century novel, “The Island of Dr, Moreau.” At the time Wells wrote the novel (1896), vivisection, the testing and experimental surgery on living animals without the use of any type of anesthesia, had gained some curious sort of acceptance in European circles. Wells novel helped lead to the forming of anti-torture animal groups such as “The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection” set up to investigate, monitor, and ban the torturous testing of animals in scientific experiments. But Wells was no fan of the movie and was frank in disparaging the film as a mockery of his work. In Wells homeland of England the film was banned, along with “Freaks,” another “shocking” 1932 horror film, until the 1960’s. In the U. S. with state censor boards free to edit and cut scenes as they saw fit for local moral standards, many did just that. Continue reading