Friday, April 15, 2016

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau (2014)

Director: David Gregory

Composer: Mark Raskin

Starring: Richard Stanley, Fairuza Balk, Hugh Dickson, Oli Dickson, Peter Elliott, Bruce Fuller, Michael Gingold, David Grasso Jr., Marco Hofschneider, David Hudson, Graham Humphreys, Kier-La Janisse, Paul Katte, Fiona Mahl, Rob Morrow, Emile Nicolaou, Edward R. Pressman, James Sbardellati, Robert Shaye, Tim Sullivan

More info: IMDb

Plot: Behind the scenes chronicle of how clash of vision, bad creative decisions, lack of interest and really bad weather plagued the disastrous production of the infamous 1996 remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1996) is not a good movie.  It's an interesting clusterfuck of egos if nothing else.  If you've ever wondered how a big budget movie could turn out so bad then this is a great little picture to put it all into perspective for you.  On one hand you've got a lot of talented folks that want to make a really good telling of H.G. Wells' story (Stanley, the original director, the makeup effects team and the lower tier actors) and on the other you've got egos the size of Montana who just like to spend other peoples' money (Brando, Kilmer, Frankenheimer to a lesser degree).  Naturally it's the Hollywood hot shots that win out and they're almost entirely to blame.  Kilmer was a pompous asshole and Brando was a contemptuous man-child.  Together, with the unenviable task of Frankenheimer to keep these pricks in line and salvage a movie out of all this madness, they created a $40 million ($61 million in 2015 dollars) exercise in W...T...F.  Director Gregory interviews an awful lot of folks involved except the 3 major cast members (one of which is dead, Brando).  You get the idea that Stanley was in over his head since the picture had started with a much smaller budget and a much lesser name cast to what it ended up being.  I can understand how daunting that must have been to suddenly being faced with working with Kilmer and Brando and all of the massive baggage that brings.  Then once Stanley's out of the picture it takes on a whole other life of its own.  One thing that I found fascinating is how Stanley was able to sneak onto the set, in costume as an extra as the dog-man, and participate without any of the big wigs knowing.  Watching this documentary ALMOST makes me want to watch the '96 film again but then I remember how bad it was.  I think this documentary is as close as I want to get to revisiting it and I'm OK with that.

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