The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)

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The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)

Post  BoG on Thu Mar 11, 2010 6:01 pm

I'm pretty sure I saw this back in the seventies, in the theater. Then I got the DVD a few years ago. The previous adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel was Island of Lost Souls way back in 1932; the later version was in 1996, with Marlon Brando in the mad doctor role. There isn't really anything very wrong with this film version, just that it's somewhat dull, with no surprises. It starts as a conventional adventure on an island and doesn't really go anywhere or get better from there. I think one of the problems is the miscasting.
Burt Lancaster was just always suited to tough heroes or just tough, action-oriented guys. Even in his later years - here - he doesn't fit the bill of a reclusive scientist. Michael York just alternates between an attitude of curiosity and being surprised/stunned - a very limited performance. Nigel Davenport's pretty good in the secondary role as the on-site hired hand - but he always is. Barbara Carrera (Embryo) is fine as the exotic beauty, though also a bit dull.

Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV series) is hidden under make-up as 'The Sayer of the Law.' He's the one 'manimal' who can speak for some reason. I have the Marvel Comics adaptation of this movie and it ends a bit differently (and better) with a final shock of Carrera transforming. The ending here, in the actual film, like everything else, is just boring. The Wikipedia article for this film states that Carrera ends up with a feline appearance at the end, but I must have missed it.

I also couldn't escape the feeling that all the transformed animals here, the creatures, are just a bunch of guys in some hastily-applied animal make-up. This was before computer FX and they just weren't able to convey the horror, if you will, of such genetically-manipulated creations. I did feel sorry for a few of them; they were kind of pathetic. In all, this is like a few of the seventies films which failed to be innovative in a decade of becoming edgy & provocative. BoG's Score: 5.5 out of 10

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