One of the oddest tales this writer has ever reported on involves 1996’s box-office bomb The Island of Dr. Moreau, the third big-screen adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel about a scientist who tries to turn animals into people. The movie was a passion project of director Richard Stanley who had made a splash with his debut movie, the sci-fi action film Hardware, and who assembled a remarkable cast for his Moreau, which included Val Kilmer, Marlon Brando, David Thewlis, Fairuza Balk, and Ron Perlman. After just a few days of principal photography, he was fired from the film and ultimately replaced by veteran auteur John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate), but allegedly returned to haunt the set disguised as one of Moreau’s semi-human beasts. Despite, or more likely because of, such dedication to the cause, Stanley hasn’t made a feature film since, and sci-fi fans have been left to ponder what might have happened with both the film and his career had he been left in charge of the project.
This whole sorry yet highly entertaining tale is now the subject of documentary called Lost Soul—The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. The film was directed by Severin Films co-founder David Gregory (who collaborated with Stanley on the 2011 horror anthology The Theatre Bizarre) and receives its world premiere this Sunday at Frightfest in London.
See the new and appropriately deranged poster for Lost Soul above, and watch the trailer for The Island of Dr. Moreau below.