The 30th film I have seen in theaters…
The South Park parody, making of documentary, and Mini-Me are the best things to come of this movie.
A plane crashes into the ocean and Edward Douglas is rescued by a passing boat by Dr Montgomery. He takes Douglas to Moreau’s island where the good doctor has been experimenting on human/animal hybrids. The hybrids are being controlled by implants and drugs to keep them civilized. The hybrids eventually revolt against their “father” and Douglas must escape the island.
Marlon Brando leads this cast as Dr. Moreau, and I say “lead” in very loose terms indeed. Brando was an amazing actor, GOD-level in his craft. He is, deservedly, regarded as the greatest actor of his generation and one of the best of the 20th century. He was also possibly batshit crazy or, to be kind, a giant pain in the ass. His misconduct on this movie has become legendary. He refused to memorize his lines, napped in his air conditioned trailer while the cast and crew waited for him in the tropical heat. He argued with the Directors and actors and made the experience miserable. The genius of Brando’s youth was completely gone by this point. A lot of his issues stemmed from the suicide of his daughter during the filming of this movie, but that’s honestly no excuse. His later career was full of stories like this. He passed in 2004 at the age of 80.
Val Kilmer plays Dr. Montgomery. This is another fantastic actor who has a reputation for being a pain. So many stories of his behavior filtered out over the years, with this film being a particular standout. His Diva behavior and on set fights with Brando are well documented. After filming his last scene, director John Frankenheimer is reported to have said of Kilmer “now get that bastard off my set”. I met Kilmer several years back, and I’ll be honest: He was pretty chill. This was around the time he was dealing with his cancer. I think the experience mellowed him quite a bit. I know he’s had voice issues due to the surgery, but I hope he mounts a comeback at some point.
David Thewlis was a last minute replacement for Rob Morrow. The production was so chaotic that Thewlis ended up rewriting some of his dialogue, angering Brando. Thewlis went on to a great career, Harry Potter/Wonder Woman/Many others. He’s still going strong.
Fairuza Balk played Moreau’s daughter, Aissa the cat lady. She was one of my favorite actresses as a kid. I first saw her in Return to Oz and The Worst Witch. She went on to The Craft, American History X, Waterboy, and other films. She’s been doing a lot of independent stuff these days. I wish she did more mainstream work, but hopefully she’s living her best life.
Ah yes, Azazello! Moreau’s dog/man son. This is actually Temuera Morrison of Star Wars fame (Jango/Boba Fett). He went on to an excellent career following this.
Ron Perlman plays the strange Goat prophet! He was the go-to guy for this after Beauty & the Beast.
Finally we have Nelson de la Rosa, who played Majai, the (presumed) clone of Dr. Moreau. Of all the things this film presented, he was the one that stuck with you. This, very strange, role inspired not only South Park, but also Austin Powers 2. Mini Me was directly referencing this role. He passed in 2006 at the age of 38.
I mean, this movie was trash. It was mercilessly denounced when released and has since become legend. Multiple actors leaving the project, multiple divorces, suicides, the director being fired and then sneaking back onto the set. It was truly insane. Writer/(original)Director Richard Stanley was the focus of a great documentary about this called “Lost Soul”. I strongly recommend it as it goes into far more detail than I ever could on the disaster that was Island of Dr. Moreau. This film prevented Stanley from directing another movie for 20 years, until SpectreVision made “Color out of Space” which was absolutely fantastic. Now, I must mention that Stanley has recently been outed as a Domestic Abuser. SpectreVision has cut all ties with him, killing his proposed Lovecraft trilogy, and is donating all future proceeds from the film to domestic violence charities, so please check it out. Nicholas Cage was excellent in it.
As for Island of Dr. Moreau, you’ve got to see this at least once.