by HELEN GEIB
Charles Laughton stars as one of the maddest of mad doctors in this adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, with Richard Arlen as the castaway hero and Bela Lugosi as the man-beasts’ leader. The new Criterion Collection DVD/Blu-ray of Island of Lost Souls (1932) is the first time the film has been available on DVD. Surprising for one of the famous pre-Code horror films… until you learn the negative is lost, and this release is a restoration pieced together from several print sources and digitally cleaned up to remove dust and scratches.
The list of extras starts with an audio commentary by Gregory Mank, a film historian; his writing credits include the topically appropriate Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff and Hollywood’s Maddest Doctors. However, the most intriguing feature to my mind is a “conversation” between director John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), makeup artist Rich Baker, and horror film historian Bob Burns. Also included are new interviews with film historian David J. Skal; Richard Stanley, the original director of the 1996 film version; and two members of Devo, which drew inspiration from the movie’s imagery. Speaking of Devo, another feature is a 1976 short film by the group featuring the songs “Secret Agent Man” and “Jocko Homo”. Finishing out the extras are a booklet with an essay on the film by Christine Smallwood (linked below), the theatrical trailer, and a stills gallery.
New releases this week: Captain America: The First Avenger, A Little Help, Shaolin, Winnie the Pooh