In France, an insane surgeon's obsession with an actress from England leads him to replace her pianist husband's hands that got mangled in an accident with the hands of a late knife murderer which still have the urge to throw knives.
After his ship goes down, Edward Parker is rescued at sea. Parker gets into a fight with Captain Davies of the Apia and the Captain tosses him overboard while making a delivery to the tiny tropical island of Dr. Moreau. Parker discovers that Moreau has good reason to be so secretive on his lonely island. The doctor is a whip-cracking task master to a growing population of his own gruesome human/animal experiments. He does have one prize result, Lota the beautiful panther woman. Parker's fortunes for escape look up after his fiancée Ruth finds him with the help of fearless Captain Donohue. However, when Moreau's tribe of near-humans rises up to rebel, no one is safe...Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Document of the Transition from Silents to Talkies
I have noticed some commenters found the movie boring or slow. You have to remember that it was made in 1933! The pacing and suspense probably felt very quick to an audience that had never seen TV, and whose primary source of entertainment was radio (for drama, suspense, horror and comedy).
The aspect I find most interesting about this definite classic of the horror genre -- aside from the excellent acting, atmosphere, script (the only adaptation of "Island of Dr. Moreau" that is faithful and the only one that's good) and makeup -- is the way it chronicles the development of film, from silent movies to talkies. Perhaps the reason some viewers find it boring is that one thing the film lacks is any musical soundtrack. I noticed this quite strikingly in some of the long pans that take place, and also in the chase scenes. I may be wrong, but I think this is a holdover from silent movies, when the music was supplied by a live musician playing piano in the movie theater. Certainly some of the emotional reaction shots, and in particular the shots of the group of half-men approaching the camera near the end, which are repeated several times, have the feel of silent movie technique. In fact, the overall feeling I get when watching this movie is that of a silent movie, with talking added in. This movie just seems to me to have been made exactly on the cusp of a time when filmmakers were adjusting their techniques to the use of sound, but hadn't fully arrived there yet.
Of course the movie is also excellent as pure entertainment. Charles Laughton was the perfect Dr. Moreau, and all the other players were well done too. And we all remember the quotes of the Sayer of the Law. I remember another one, though, by the Captain that brings the girl to the island. "No long pig?" he asks, grinning. We are chilled to learn that long pig refers to consumption of human flesh. And the final line, "Don't look back." Overall, this is a frightening look at the way science can be perverted by people with no conscience.
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