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 1996 remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau.
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A ship-wrecked man floats ashore on an island in the Pacific Ocean. The island is inhabited by a scientist, Dr. Moreau, who in an experiment has turned beasts into human beings. Written by
There exist several film version of H.G. Wells' famous tale, including a very old one starring Charles Laughton & Bela Lugosi, and the much more known and hyped 90's version starring Marlon Brando. This 70's version is the most obscure of the bunch, but it certainly should appeal to horror fanatics as well as to admirers of Wells' writings. The 70's way of film-making (gritty special effects, cheap atmosphere of sleaze, violence ) fits the story very well because it basically is a very grotesque, far-fetched and strangely unsettling political allegory. Burt Lancaster this time depicts, impressively I may add, the titular "mad" scientist, Nigel Davenport stars as his unaware accomplice Montgomery and the intruding castaway Adrew Braddock is no less than Michael York; a personal favorite of mine. As everyone probably knows, Dr. Moreau lives isolated because his genetic research and experiments aren't exactly easy to justify. Convinced that the basic DNA of whatever living species can be altered into any other species of preference, Moreau's island runs full of guinea pigs. The wild animals he attempts to turn into people are subjected to human laws and whoever breaks the rules will be punished harshly. Braddock disapproves of his work and when he also shows a romantic interest in Moreau's gorgeous wife Maria, he becomes next in line for a whole new different and risky type of experiment. The tropical island setting is magnificent and the production definitely benefices from sublime camera-work and enchanting music. The costumes and make-up effects aren't particularly menacing (the guinea pigs actually look like ancestors of the Ewoks) but the last half hour is exhilaratingly violent and Dr. Moreau's ultimate fate is truly nightmarish, even for a cruel being like him.
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