The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) movie poster

director John Frankenheimer
viewed: 02/20/2017

I’ve been pining to watch the 1996 version of The Island of Dr. Moreau since watching Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014). I’d never seen it, getting a sense of the disaster from the outside back in the day of its release. But hearing the tortured journey of Richard Stanley and the outsized nuttiness of Marlon Brando, ultimately this felt like a movie that had to be seen.

And I’d put it to anyone that seeing it in some partnership with the Lost Soul documentary is a must. Brando’s over-the-top weirdness is even more fun realizing how intentional and broadly comedic it was. As well as his apparent great fondness for Nelson de la Rosa who plays Majai, the mini-Brando mutant.

It’s also interesting to see Val Kilmer at the height of his career playing such an insufferable louse bro turned Brando-imitator nutjob. Kilmer was notorious on the set as a genuine douche. It’s interesting that his career started its slide right after this.

The make-up by Stan Winston elevates aspects of the film, calling to mind again what could have been in Stanley’s lost version of the film. It’s interesting how something inspired in part by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkenss turned into its own devolving metaphorical life experience of descent into jungle madness.

I don’t know if it’s best to watch the documentary first or the film first or maybe to bookend watching the documentary with viewings of this thing.

Without a doubt, Brando steals the show.

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