director David Gregory
Lost Soul, or in its longer more descriptive title, Lost Soul: The Doomed Story of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau, is a new entry into an interesting and growing subgenre of documentary, a film about a lost film, one that never saw the light of day. The first that I recall of these would probably be Lost in La Mancha (2002) about Terry Gilliam’s failed Don Quixote film. More recently, there is Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno (2009) and the more widely seen and celebrated Jodorowsky’s Dune (2014).
I doubt many would argue that the name Richard Stanley doesn’t ring as many bells as might Terry Gilliam, Alejandro Jodorowsky, or Henri-Georges Clouzot, but that is part (and parcel) of what Lost Soul delves into. Stanley never got to make the Island of Dr. Moreau that he had in mind, but the film did get made as the 1996 debacle The Island of Dr. Moreau starring Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando, which was filmed and completed by the notable John Frankenheimer.
Stanely, an up and coming director with a couple of cool indie British science fiction films to his name (the very interesting Hardware (1990) and the 1992 Dust Devil, was so devastated by the experience with Hollywood on this Moreau that he quit filmmaking almost entirely. And what Lost Soul depicts is the wild and woolly ambitious craziness that his Moreau could have been and hints at a career that also could have been, one in which his name might not be so obscure compared to Jodorowsky and Gilliam.
And while that story is interesting, Lost Soul actually gets its most hilarious and bizarre as the film is taken from Stanley, handed to Frankenheimer and totally sabotaged by Kilmer’s ego and Brando’s comedy. Frankly, it’s hysterical. I can’t believe now that I’ve never watched it. I’m certainly going to have to now.