Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chiller Classic present: The Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Oooooooooo Baby. Are we getting into it with this here. The first Black and White Chiller Classic, annnnnd the oldest film ever reviewed on the fav destination for the entertainment nation (you like that? Ya, you like that).

So here we have it a bonafide classic. A controversial, made em faint in the theatre 1932 flick.

Your plot: A good man - Edward Parker, finds himself stranded on an Island filled with the many twisted experiments of the very mad Dr. Moreau. Of course the Doctor also created the Panther Woman. Ya. Sexy like it sounds. So the Doctor is all excited to have a visitor mostly to allow his star creation - sexy Panther chick - the chance to seduce and make sexy time with a genuine man. Things as you might expect do not go well, and well, the creatures of the Island eventually decide the Doctor and his whip maybe aren't so tough - REVOLT!

Yeah right. I don't care, I'm not falling for that one. 
So before you watch a film like this you need to ask yourself whether you can handle the didntagesowell aspects of a film this old. Granted you are currently taking the time out of your day to scope a Boonsweet blog, so hey, you are a wee bit more that the average movie fan bear. But can you appreciate film for the essence of what is film, story. Whenever you watch a film this old the other things well come into play...

1. No matter how good the restoration there will be issues with the quality of the film. I watched the Criterion Bluray of this film. The best restoration a film can get, and it was still, well, let's just say very far from Iron Man 3 80 inch 1080i quality. Still, considering the age of the film, the non existence of a true full negative... it is impressive.
2. Cheesi-ness. No matter how good the intentions, time, years of exposure to anything our internet addict selves want has bred a certain humour that the times did not, and could not account for. For instance their is a scene where a man is knocked out. It happens so fast, and suddenly he is throw over board, and well, I laughed out loud. Intense, jarring scene in 1932... tickles the funny bone in 2014

 (Oh yeah, happy new year BOONIACS!).

So that said, if you accept that, and still continue well congrats... because the history of film is filled with some truly amazing stories. And at the end of the day. 300 million dollar Cameron flick, or $60,000 home made witch flick... its always about the story.

The question was: To pet, or not to pet. 
And this movie is a blast. Bela Lugosi shows up to yell some great lines "ARE WE NOT MEN?!". There is a genuine playful, and creepy nature to Dr. Moreau (something Brando was sadly lacking in the remake). Okay, movie geek moment. But straight up - Orson Wells - would have been unreal in this role. As it is Charles Laughton is awesome. Same guy played the Hunched of Back himself Quasimodo in the definitive version of the book. So he has a range and it is on full display here.

Tyrant. Scientist. Mad Scientist (and yes there is a difference).

The Panther Woman is an innocent and violently emotional creature (a sign of the future teenage girl perhaps? - Zing!). Richard Allen as the lead is appropriately moral, though perhaps not as pure as he at first seems. And more than a little drawn to the Panther. In fact I dare say if he had managed to get her and his fiancé together... Oh. Right. 1932. I guess they all just would've sat down and played records or something... on that horn hooked to a box thing.

Listen. Iconic imagery. Surprisingly dark tones. Very violent (in a 30s way). This is a must watch for any film buff, and a definite collection worthy bluray for any horror fan. There is just a lot to love here.

One subtle touch for me, no music. That is right, the majority of the film plays to no score. Almost un heard of in those early days of film. When sound was such a blooming plot device. But it really adds to the fun of the film. The make up too, pretty damn impressive. A few truly twisted faces in the bunch.

Movie scale 3.5 out 5 stars
Horror Classic scale 4 out of 5 stars

Hey if you aren't into the classics, this aint the film to change your mind. If however, like me you get drawn into the golden age of film (honourable mention to the 80s) they you should be in your giddy glory here.

Welcome to 2014!

Thank you for all the support, and look forward to mind bending film adventure to come!

Sidenote: That "Are we not men" line. If you somehow realized the lyrics are perhaps from a Devo song, you were correct in fact they show up in the special feature on the loaded Criterion Disc. 

-Charles B. Boonsweet.

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