The Island of Dr. Moreau

So far I had avoided this adaptation (the third) of H.G. Wells’ novel. It’s often ranked among the worst Sf-horror movies ever. It isn’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good movie.

Wells’ original novel tells a fascinating story about a brilliant but mad doctor trying to turn animals into human beings. It's above all an indictment of vivisection, but it was also read as a political prophecy, foreshadowing the Nazis and their eugenic experiments. In the 1977 version the references to eugenics are made more explicit, in this new version Moreau uses genetic manipulation rather than crossbreeding techniques or a mysterious serum that could give animals human traits. Every era has its own Wells. We’re still fascinated and worried by the problems that fascinated and worried him. So why doesn’t this film work properly then?

It opens well, with a shipwrecked David Thewlis being picked up by a mysterious Val Kilmer who tells him he is not a doctor, but a vet. Thewlis is brought to the island where Brando himself is performing his demonic experiments. So far so good, but in 1995 Brando’s acting days were way behind him; he had become a parody of himself, ridiculously overweight, looking and moving like a whale, lisping his lines. Unfortunately he still had that special quality to dominate every movie he was in: Thewlis has a lot of screen time, but seems over-impressed by the presence of Brando, and you may well ask what Kilmer is doing in this movie until he performs his rather funny Brando impersonation. It’s all Brando, but Brando is no longer Brando.

But there’s more. Stripped from their philosophical ideas, Wells’ stories soon become skeletons without much flesh. In this movies his ideas about identity and interference with nature are presented in a campy way, turning the sf-horror into a vaudeville act; director Frankenheimer obviously had no idea what to do with the material and yes, maybe they should’ve asked Terry Gilliam to direct it and turn the whole thing into a Flying Circus.  

This adaptation is not a total waste of time, it offers a few scares and has of course a certain curiosity value. If you think about it, the subject matter is as disturbing as when Wells wrote it, but in the end the creatures look too much like the Apes from the Planet (or the Cats from the Musical) to be frightening and Moreau’s hybrid daughter Aissa looks too much like the sexy actress Fairuza Balk to sense her existential fears of becoming an animal. 

FX Acteren Sfeer Originaliteit Totaal
7 4 4.5 4 5

Aanraders in overeenkomstige genres, volgens Boobytrap:
- Alien (science fiction / horror : 8)
- Jurassic Park III (science fiction / horror : 7)
- Outlander (science fiction / horror : 6.5)
- The Lost World: Jurassic Park (science fiction / horror : 6.5)
- Supernova (science fiction / horror : 6)

Hoe beoordeelt Boobytrap categorie science fiction eigenlijk?

Hoe beoordeelt Boobytrap categorie horror eigenlijk?

Hoe beoordelen bezoekers deze recensie?

The Island of Dr. Moreau
The Island of Dr. Moreau
The Island of Dr. Moreau

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