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Island of Lost Souls

Erle C Kenton

A twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday, Island of Lost Souls is a cautionary tale of science run amok, adapted from H. G. Wells’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. In one of his first major movie roles, Charles Laughton is a mad doctor conducting ghastly genetic experiments on a remote island in the South Seas, much to the fear and disgust of the shipwrecked man (Richard Arlen) who finds himself trapped there. This touchstone of movie terror, directed by Erle C. Kenton, features expressionistic photography by Karl Struss, groundbreaking makeup effects that have inspired generations of monster-movie artists, and the legendary Bela Lugosi in one of his most gruesome roles.

“Even taking into account its pre-Code loose leash, it’s remarkable how much more daring, lurid, and intelligent this version is compared to newer models… Foregoing overwrought spectacle and forced relevance, Island of Lost Souls is able to conjure infinitely more wit and horror with just the devious glint in Laughton’s eye.” – Reverse Shot

“The appeal of the film, aside from that utter weirdness, is how it finds that B-movie sweet spot between the tawdry and the serious. There are real technical accomplishments in the film, from the makeup to the cinematography by Karl Struss, who had been behind the camera for more respectable movies, like F.W. Murnau’s classic Sunrise (1927). And even is it qualifies as primo vintage camp, there’s a subversively playful bite to its allegory as well.” – The Perpetual Present


  • 7/14 | 7:00PM
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