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's three principal reasons why this HG Wells' inspired horror adventure works, firstly the distinguished cast led by A-graders Michael York (as the shipwrecked engineer) and Burt Lancaster, as the reclusive title character whose gene experiments on the local animal population is resulting in terrible mutations trapped amid instincts that lay somewhere between man and animal, a precariously distorted eco-system.
Nigel Davenport plays the boozy mercenary protecting the island establishment from its own macabre experiments, while Richard Basehart is a transformed animal, human enough to be the law sayer and peace-keeper of the mutated island population. Then there's the ravishing Barbara Carrera as a naive orphan brought to the island as a child by Moreau, besotted by the chivalrous York, but equally mysterious like her young lynx companion. Nick Cravat and Dave Cass have minor supporting roles as manimals of various pedigree.
The second reason to tune in is the set design and make-up effects in which luminaries John Chambers and Dan Striepeke were involved. Moreau's half-breed experiments are impressively brought to life by Chambers' crew, the full effect more evident on close-up, particularly on the unrecognisable Basehart.
Finally, if it needs to be defended, the production of Samuel Z.Arkoff and Sandy Howard should please some, their AIP distribution lending a certain B-movie prestige, a badge that will in itself, attract a legion of fans (but equally, render others suspicious of the quality). Overall, while there were a plethora of plot-holes to be found, and the conclusion a little simplistic, the general tone and quality of the film remained highly entertaining, uncomplicated and straightforward, something the 1996 remake couldn't muster in spite of its (by relative standards) gold plated production.
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