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Lost Soul (Island of Dr. Moreau documentary) (2015)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: David Gregory

Starring:
Richard Stanley
Bob Shaye
Rob Morrow
Fairuza Balk
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
This documentary chronicles the implosion of Richard Stanley’s The Island of Doctor Moreau production, before it was taken over by John Frankenheimer and then we got what we got – a FASCINATING MESS.
THE LOWDOWN
I remember when I saw THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU in theatres in 1996, before Arrow in the Head even existed; I thought it was a technically impressive and fairly outrageous failure. It wasn’t a good film on paper, but I was entertained by it nonetheless, being that it was just so freaking weird. I mean come on; Brando painted pasty white and a mini-me midget (loved the back-story about that guy found in this doc) pouring ice in a bucket lodged on his fat f*cking head. You don’t see shit like that everyday! Or what about Val Kilmer wardrobe getting odder and odder as the film went on or the slew of half man/half animal oddities (ideally created by Stan Winston Studio) that populated the film? There was something to be said about the movie… other than “it sucked” that is…

Being a huge fan of Richard Stanley’s work (via his two masterpieces HARDWARE and DUST DEVIL) I already was aware of the story behind his getting the boot off the set of Moreau before I went to see the movie and I read up on it extensively afterwards (in Fangoria, Mad Movies and Gorezone of course – no internet back then… the good old days), because how his firing went down and what happened on that show was morbidly fascinating to me. Now years later David Gregory brings us in the deeper into the shenanigans that sunk Stanley’s Moreau ship via his biting documentary LOST SOUL (watch it here) and man did it make for a gnarly watch!  After witnessing a series of eye popping creature designs for Stanley’s original vision, the first thing that grabbed me early on was that Stanley got a warlock to do a spell to help him lock the picture. Personally I’ve always been weary of the "spells". In my book if you f*ck around with that jive; it can backfire and come back at ya to cash in. And if I am right, BOY did it cash in on Mr. Stanley!

This doco was filled to the brim with compelling anecdotes (Richard Stanley sure knows how to tell a story) as to how the shoot got out of hand i.e. Kilmer and Brando. From Fangoria’s own Michael Gingold, producer Robert Shaye (who really entertained me with his blunt honesty) to star Fairuza Balk (who actually tried to escape production, but was caught at the airport) to initial lead Rob Morrow (who was cast as Douglas but who wisely booked out - David Thewlis took over the role), so many peeps came and chimed in, painting quite the twisted picture. It was also very funny to hear about the a-hole contest that was taking place on the Island of Doctor Egos! Brando Vs. Kilmer! Place your bets! And from what I heard Kilmer won that contest. Brando was odd and self absorbed, but word has it that Kilmer (who was going through a divorce at the time) was the KING of jerk behaviour! NOTE: Kilmer actually apologized to Stanley after the shoot for "fucking up his movie".

Another thing that got revealed to me to SOME DEGREE while watching this doc was the other side of the coin. Although Brando and Kilmer acted like ass-clowns, on his end, Richard Stanley skipped production meetings and hid from the conflict as opposed to facing it head on and trying to nip it in the bud. At the end of the neck-snap, the director is the captain of the ship and when shit goes wrong on a set, the director has to take the bull by the horns and control of the situation. Obviously Stanley was not ready to take on such mammoth star egos then, and now that I think of it, even if he was and stepped up hardcore, he probably would have gotten canned anyways. Brando and Kilmer were big names with lots of pull back then. In a way Stanley was the perfect scapegoat for their tomfoolery.

One angle I wish I would have gotten more details on was; after Stanley was fired, he went and lived in the rain forest for months to then come back to the production (once John Frankenheimer took over) dressed up as a dog-man extra. My questions are 1- Why didn’t he just go home after being fired? 2- What the bleep was he doing in the forest for all that time? Like really, in detail, what was he doing? Getting baked? Howling at the moon? Banging natives? What did he do? I also wish even more people would have chimed in, in terms of their take on the nightmare production. Val Kilmer’s two cents would have been AWESOME being that he was on the flip side of the coin, but I can understand why he passed on being interviewed and I can’t really blame the film for that. Hearing Ron Perlman’s opinions on the shoot or even David Thewlis would have been swell too. But hey, maybe that’s me being greedy…

On the whole LOST SOUL was a mucho fulfilling behind the scenes look at a film that had so much promise and went all kinds of wrong, making this foray into the behind the scenes all kinds of right.  A must see! 

GORE
Nope!
T & A
And nope!
BOTTOM LINE
Richard Stanley spent four years developing his ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU before getting the green-light from New Line Cinema. And it only took 3 days of shooting for him to get thrown off his own project. Blows the f*cking mind and this well laid out documentary did a fantastic job in letting us know HOW and WHY something so unfair and ludicrous could happen. Sure it would have been nice to get even more cast members to chime in and further testimonies in terms of the other side of the coin. And I still wanna know WTF Stanley was doing in the forest for months after getting the boot! On that, if like me you have a fascination with stories of film productions going to shit; then this baby should quench your thirst! You bet your ass I now want to watch THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU again!
BULL'S EYE
You can watch this documentary here!

Mark Dacascos was one of the monsters in Island of Dr. Moreau, he played Lo-Mai.

Frank Welker (the voice of Megatron in the Transformers cartoon) did some uncredited voice work in Island of Dr. Moreau as Assassimon.
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