This movie was refused a cinema certificate in 1933 by the BBFC and remained banned in the UK until 1958, when it was released with an X certificate with cuts made. Among the board's objectives were references to vivisection and "cutting a living man to pieces", and Moreau saying, "Do you know what it means to feel like God?". The film was finally released uncut on DVD in 2011 with a PG certificate.
According to film historian Gregory W. Mank on his commentary for the Criterion edition of this film, producer/actress Gail Patrick competed for the role of the Lota the "Panther Woman". She lost out to Kathleen Burke but became good friends with her. Patrick noted that she was happy that she lost because Burke was defined by the role and eventually left show business. According to Patrick, Burke couldn't get roles after her performance in the film.
To create the language of the mutants sound-man Loren L. Ryder recorded a mixture of animal sounds and foreign languages, then played them backwards at alternating speeds. The effect: the sound induced nausea and caused the audiences to vomit in the theaters.
Members of the new wave band Devo were fans of the film. The "What is the law?" sequence formed part of the lyrics to the band's song "Jocko Homo," with Bela Lugosi's query "Are we not men?" providing the title to their 1978 debut album "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!". Oingo Boingo is another new wave band that paid tribute to the film with its song "No Spill Blood," which featured the refrain "What is the Law?" The Meteors, a psycho-billy band from the UK, told the story of the film in their song "Island of Lost Souls" on their 1986 album "Teenagers From Outer Space". The Cramps, an American psycho-billy band, featured a song "The Natives Are Restless" on their "Psychedelic Jungle" album. Heavy metal band Van Halen paid homage to the film in the original version of their song "House of Pain", the early lyrics for which directly referenced the story line of the movie. During onstage introductions of the song circa 1976-77, the band's vocalist David Lee Roth routinely gave a brief synopsis of the film. The song was shelved for the better part of a decade, but eventually resurfaced with different non-movie-related lyrics and released on the band's 1984 album. The US horror-rock band Manimals based much of their stage persona on the film. Their 1985 'Blood is the Harvest" vinyl E.P. closes with the song "Island of Lost Souls". The track includes a "What is the Law?" section that fans would chant during live shows.
This movie was banned from public showings in Sweden by the Swedish Censorboard in March 1933. Swedish Censor number 48.959. This censorship doesn't include later inventions like television, video, DVD etc.
The final draft screenplay, dated September 30, 1932, lists all the actors and roles they will play with the exception of the roles eventually played by Tetsu Komai, Bela Lugosi, and Paul Hurst. When comparing that script with the released film additional action and dialogue have been added for the scenes involving Lugosi and Hurst. Their parts have been "beefed" up, probably to help get them to play the roles.