Documentary Review – Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (2015)

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU
Directed by David Gregory
Courtesy of Severin Films and CAV Distribution
Release Date: July 28, 2015

lost soul

Several years ago, a friend of mine told me I needed to sit down and watch John Frankenheimer’s THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. When I asked why, he just smiled and said, “You’ll see why after you watch it…it’s bizarre.” His enigmatic answer was enough to prompt me to watch the film, so I did. He was certainly right; the film is a very strange take on H.G. Wells’ book…but it’s also way out in left field on certain things. I always found the film odd, and now, thanks to LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, I think I understand why. This amazing documentary sheds light on one of the weirdest filmmaking experiences ever recorded in history.

If you are not familiar with LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films and CAV Distribution:

In 1995, visionary writer/director Richard Stanley (HARDWARE, DUST DEVIL) got the green light for his dream project: An epic adaptation of H.G. Wells’ ‘The Island Of Doctor Moreau’ starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. But only days into production, an unprecedented storm of natural disasters, monstrous egos and disturbing imagery – along with chaos, insanity and witchcraft – would trigger perhaps the most infamous behind-the-scenes catastrophe in modern movie history. Now director/producer David Gregory (THE THEATRE BIZARRE, PLAGUE TOWN) reveals the untold story behind one of the all-time greatest cinematic train wrecks (Variety) in this wonderfully weird and gripping (Entertainment Weekly) documentary featuring never-before-seen footage, startling new interviews with actors Fairuza Balk and Rob Morrow, studio executives, crew members and – for the first time ever – the notoriously reclusive Stanley himself, plus nearly 2 hours of exclusive Bonus Features.

I always wondered what happened to Richard Stanley. After directing two cult-favorite films (HARDWARE and DUST DEVIL), he dropped off the planet for a long time. I didn’t hear anything about him for years, until back in 2012, when he directed a short in THE THEATRE BIZARRE horror anthology. I hope the release of this documentary will help usher in his reemergence into the realm of filmmaking.

LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU is shot like most documentaries and looks good onscreen. The behind-the-scenes story is exhaustively fleshed out, and the result is a top-notch documentary that is entertaining and engrossing.

The film contains a slew of famous faces, including Fairuza Balk, Rob Morrow, Robert Shaye, and even Richard Stanley himself. I wish the production team had gotten Val Kilmer for an interview, however I can understand why Kilmer probably did not want to be on camera; not a single cast or crew member had anything positive to say about him.

This fascinating glimpse into the nightmarish film experience behind THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU is something you simply must see to believe. Richard Stanley was fired after four days of filming. Afterwards, more chaos ensued: John Frankenheimer was called in to finish the film and decided to rewrite the script on the fly; meanwhile, Marlon Brando started acting crazy, and Val Kilmer’s diva-like antics were nothing short of jaw-dropping. The events prior to and during the film shoot were a perfect storm for New Line Cinema, and it’s a wonder the company didn’t go bankrupt because of it.

LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU is a huge win for me, and I recommend checking it out as soon as possible. If you’ve never seen the Frankenheimer/Stanley film, give it a look and then watch the documentary. But if you are already familiar with it, this film will answer many of the questions you’ve harbored over the years. LOST SOUL hits store shelves next week, so make a note.

MSB

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