Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Mike Matei / October 22nd, 2014

Charles Laughton stars in this overlooked adaptation of Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells. Bela Lugosi stars in a minor role.



  • October 22, 2014 at 7:02 am

    I look forward to Monster Madness every year. Keep up the good work

  • geddon

    October 22, 2014 at 7:15 am

    I love Monster Madness!

  • Nintendomaniac

    October 22, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I remember seeing the harry faced Lugosi from this movie in the opening of a past Monster Madness, and wondering what movie that was from.

  • Jordan Cuevas

    October 22, 2014 at 7:21 am

    This week in geek?

  • October 22, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Theres something about the oldschool black and white/technicolor movies that is just so damn appealing to me in regards to horror films.

  • itscmillertime

    October 22, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Can someone please explain to me why you would get an 80 year old movie on blue ray? I can understand did but why would you pay extra for blue ray when the movie was never intended for high definition?

    • Joker83

      October 22, 2014 at 11:43 am

      The picture and sound quality often get restored for release on new formats. Also, many people watch Blu-Ray now instead of VHS, it makes sense to produce classic movies in the newer format so that people can still enjoy them.

    • H53287la

      October 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      You can’t be serious? 35mm film has been used since the 1920’s up until very recently, it is very high definition (you can’t really compare it to digital since it’s analogic, but it’s easily full HD (1080p)), the cameras haven’t changed that much.

    • captveg

      October 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      35mm is natively more “resolution” than even 4k.

      • Don Skiver

        October 22, 2014 at 9:07 pm

        If you’re talking “pixels” maybe. But no one measures video quality in pixels. They measure it in lines.

        This gives a very good lesson in the difference between 35mm film vs HD Video and even cites a study done where professionals actually had a pretty hard time trying to tell the difference between the two. However, this study was done before UltraHD (4k HD).

        [Paraphrased from the site]
        Bottom line, the difference between HD video and 35mm film is pretty minimal. 16mm, 35mm, DV, and HD are all tools of the filmmaker.
        It’s not a question of “which format is best” but rather “which format is best for your project” based on aesthetics and budget.

        Oh, and nice review James. I might have to go and check this one out now.

  • CrushingC10996WM

    October 22, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Now I see where the Simpsons got this idea from. Speaking of which, one year should be dedicated to looking over every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror. If you’ve watched the show that is

    • October 22, 2014 at 11:08 am

      I’m pretty sure James has watched The Simpsons aha. I think this would be a cool idea but i’d rather have a 3 or 4 part video series with multiple episode reviews in each part, as Monster Madness would get a bit boring if every day you knew what was to expect, and it was just The Simpsons.

    • Joker83

      October 22, 2014 at 11:45 am

      The Simpsons got the idea for an Island of Dr. Moreau parody from this 1932 adaptation with a different name? Could it be they were parodying the 1996 movie staring Brando?

      • October 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm

        Well this movie has the same plot so I don’t see why it couldn’t have been the original.

  • otto meyer III

    October 22, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Great choice. Watched this only a few weeks ago, a really creepy classic and a brilliantly sneaky and manipulative performance from Laughton. Remember seeing clips from this used in a horror compilation presented by old Norman Bates himself, Anthony Perkins, called THE HORRROR SHOW in the 1980’s.

  • October 22, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Charles Laughton’s most famous villian role was in Mutiny on the Bounty. He was amazing in that too.

  • skwij

    October 22, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Bela Lugosi: vampire, revolutionary leader, beast-man. Thanks!

  • Claude Lilford

    October 22, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I’m personally not a big fan of this movie; It’s much too slow. The lack of music does make it effectively eery but it’s not enough.

  • Mr. Cap

    October 22, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Folks, if you like the movie and want to purchase it I highly recommend the Criterion Collection version, its the digitally restored uncut theatrical version. Also, the extras alone are worth it (Conversation between 3 greats: Director John Landis, make-up artist Rick Baker, and the great genre expert, Bob Burns; Interviews with members of DEVO; two music videos by DEVO; even interviews from the director of that ridiculous 1996 version starring Val Kilmer and Ron Perlman. “You made us, things, not men! Part Men, Part Beast! THINGS!” Great movie.

  • October 22, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I think this video might interest you James:

    It’s a haunted house that violates you in every legal way possible. It appears to be like being held hostage by Leatherface’s family, and apparently can last to about four hours, the customers not being allowed to leave until it’s over. I think this is where the escapism of horror becomes a bit much but definitely felt like sharing with you.

    • October 22, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Great review by the way. I only know of this because of The Simpsons parody but looking at this in context, the idea of a man ripping people open and melding their body parts with animals against their will (no sleeping gases either) is truly horrifying and disturbing. Very shocking that this could be alluded to in 1932 but I imagine the film would be completely tasteless and disgusting if made today. Vivid gore is disturbing, but it’s also lazy, and on top of that, it misses the whole point of the horror genre, to be scared but have a good time simultaneously. Truly disturbing and confrontational films may have their artistic merit but they are not entertaining.

      • Joker83

        October 22, 2014 at 11:48 am

        I’m confused. Did the Simpsons parody this specific 1932 movie adaptation of the Island of Dr. Moreau book, or did they just parody the 1996 version (most likely)?

      • October 22, 2014 at 6:53 pm

        The Simpsons simply parodied the story in general, I don’t think it can be said for sure (or even matters…) which specific version they were parodying. But since it came out around the time of the remake, that was probably what inspired the idea. But that doesn’t mean that this film didnt also
        partially inspire it too.

  • captveg

    October 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Re: Paramount titles ending up at Universal.The short version: Paramount sold the majority of their sound film library (1929-1949) to RCA for TV broadcast in the early 50s, since they saw no value in those holdings at the time. RCA eventually merged with Universal, giving Universal ownership of those films. So, aside from a handful of exceptions, if it’s a Paramount film from that era, it’s owned by Universal.

    • sutekh22

      October 22, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      What he said is more technically correct. I gave the short short version… more words.

  • October 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    When we’re talking about “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” it’s pronounced “Notra Dahm,” not “Noter Daym.”

  • Sean Ewing

    October 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    The video isn’t showing up for me!

    • ZomboCombo

      October 22, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      yeah I only get audio. Been happening for a couple of days on all videos.

    • ZomboCombo

      October 22, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      ok the problem for me is 63kbps bitrate. Click on the HD button on the video controls and see if a lower resolution works for you.

  • Mega-Gojira

    October 22, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Looks like an Awesome Movie!!!!!!

  • October 22, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Why do you pronounce “paramount” as para-mont????

  • Mattashell

    October 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Any advice if you’re not seeing the video. I mean there’s nothing there at all to click on. I never have a problem with this site at home, but I’m visiting my dad and using his wifi and having this issue. Coincidentally Island of Lost Souls is one of the two movies I brought to watch with him.

    • Mattashell

      October 23, 2014 at 1:57 am

      I was able to watch it by using another browser. Not sure if it has to do with my location change since firefox always works at home.

  • sutekh22

    October 22, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Just to explain why Universal owns this movie. In the mid 50’s Paramount sold their entire pre 1950 library to Universal to avoid bankruptcy. Universal also owns Dr. Cyclops, The Monster and the Girl, Murders in the Zoo, Supernatural, Terror Aboard, Double Door, Menace and the Uninvited among others. Universal didn’t get Jekyll and Hyde because Paramount already sold it to MGM who sold it to Turner who ended up selling it to Warner Brothers. It’s like the village bicycle of classic horrors.

  • October 22, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    dear mike and james
    guys seriously,please take the hour or 2 required to fix the youtube page.i have a broken hand guys,i cant keep clicking a new video.playlist plz.

  • marclawson

    October 22, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    yay! the monster arm at the end is back!

  • jeremy barabino

    October 22, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Just to explain why Universal owns this movie. In the mid 50′s Paramount sold their entire pre 1950 library to Universal to avoid bankruptcy. Universal also owns Dr. Cyclops, The Monster and the Girl, Murders in the Zoo, Supernatural, Terror Aboard, Double Door, Menace and the Uninvited among others. Universal didn’t get Jekyll and Hyde because Paramount already sold it to MGM who sold it to Turner who ended up selling it to Warner Brothers. It’s like the village bicycle of classic horrors.

  • culwin

    October 22, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    We are knee-deep in the Madness

  • BruceLong

    October 22, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    That still of Lugosi reminds me a lot of Robin Williams 🙂

  • October 23, 2014 at 2:56 am

    FASCINATING! I’ve been seeing that wolfman image for decades, but I never knew where it came from, much less that it was LUGOSI!

  • PrincessPeach

    October 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Have been wondering about this since forever, does anybody know the movie from the intro 00:05-00.08?

    Btw – just registered to say: loving monster madness since 2007. It’s the only reason I get up every day in October! Really 😉

  • October 23, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    There is also an episode of Batman the animated series that is based on this movie with Selena Kyle turned into a catlike creature.

  • October 27, 2014 at 4:39 am

    nice work.

    these movie reviews are honestly what drew me off of youtube onto the site. you really chose some good films to look at this year, and i’m very much appreciating your take on the history of cinema.

  • October 27, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Any Recommendation for a B-flick (80’s)

  • Alexander O'Dell

    October 29, 2014 at 8:21 am

    For some reason the videos aren’t showing for me. 🙁

  • gluserty

    October 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    I can tell the beast is played by Bela Lugosi by his eyes, which I feel were practically their own character much of the time. I don’t know if I can think of another oerformer who did so much with their eyes.

  • Jeff

    October 12, 2015 at 2:29 am

    There’s some interesting cultural significance to this film in music – The most notable is that Devo referenced the film’s version of the Sayer of the Law scenes in the song “Jocko Homo” with the refrain “Are we not men? We are Devo!”. Their short film The Truth About De-evolution uses an early version of the song and is included in the DVD of Island of Lost Souls (along with an interview with Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale). And in general Devo’s conceptual themes of man-beasts and de-evolution resonate with H.G. Wells’ story.

    Other bands that referenced the film and the original book are Oingo Boingo (“No Spill Blood” – sample lyrics: “What is the law?/No spill blood…We walk on two legs, not on four, to walk on four legs breaks the law”; even the House of Pain is mentioned) and Van Halen in the title of the song “House of Pain”.

  • Strider Tien

    October 15, 2015 at 10:36 am

    FarCry: The Movie

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