“Island of Lost Souls” (1932) starring Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen & Kathleen Burke / Z-View

Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Director: Erle C. Kenton

Screenplay by: Waldemar Young, Philip Wylie based on THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU by H. G. Wells

Starring: Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Kathleen Burke, Arthur Hohl, Stanley Fields, Paul Hurst.

Tagline: THE PANTHER WOMAN lured men on – only to destroy them body and soul!

The Story:

After a dispute with a supply ship’s drunken Captain, Edward Parker (Arlen), is left stranded on the remote jungle island of Dr. Moreau (Laughton). Moreau welcomes Parker to his home.  Parker thanks him for the hospitality and says he will leave on the next supply ship.  Parker is warned that many wild creatures live on the island.  He is then introduced to Lota (Burke) and Montgomery (Hohl), Moreau’s assistant.

Later as Lota and Edward are talking they hear terrible screams coming from Dr. Moreau’s lab.  Lota tells Edward the lab is called “the house of pain”.  Edward bursts in to find Moreau and Montgomery operating without anesthesia on some sort of human-animal hybrid.

Edward decides to take a small boat and leave.  As he walks from the safety of the house, Edward sees dozens of half-human beasts coming towards him.  Dr. Moreau shows up with his whip and drives them back into the jungle.  Moreau explains that the creatures are results of his failed experiments to turn animals into humans.

Edward is trapped on the island with the crazy Dr. Moreau and his assistant Montgomery.  As the jungle creatures get more daring, Edward knows that time for survival is running out.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Paramount decided the role of Lota the Panther Woman would go to an unknown actress.  Kathleen Burke, a fashion model and radio actress who had never appeared in a feature film, won the role beating out 60,000 hopefuls.  The opening credits read Lota…. the Panther Woman, but the final credits list Kathleen Burke by name.  It’s interesting to note that Lota does not appear in H.G. Wells’ novel.

Island of Lost Souls (1932) was made before the Hays Code, which prohibited profanity, suggestive nudity, graphic or realistic violence, sexual persuasions and rape, went into effect.  Subsequently, the movie was censored in many countries and re-releases.

H.G. Wells reportedly felt that the film focused on horror at the expense of the “novel’s philosophical themes”.