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Island of Lost Souls (The Island of Dr. Moreau) (1933)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.

audience

82

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 2,158

My Rating

Movie Info

This first film version of H.G. Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau stars Charles Laughton as Dr.Moreau, a dedicated but sadly misguided scientist who rules the roost on a remote island. Shipwrecked sailor Edward Parker Richard Arlen finds himself on Moreau's island, agreeing to stick around until another boat can come along and take him home. But that's not quite what Moreau has in mind: he'd rather Parker stay on the island and marry the exotic Lota (Kathleen Burke), who curiously possesses the

Sep 1, 1993

Paramount Pictures

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All Critics (21) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (1) | DVD (7)

Laughton, as he managed to do in Devil and the Deep and The Sign of the Cross, gives the role of the villain a peculiarly horrifying quality by humanizing it far beyond the demands of the script.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While the action is not designed to appeal to other than the credulous, there are undoubtedly some horror sequences which are unrivaled.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a grand, hokey chiller, dripping with sex and sadism and photographed in dense, Sternbergian shadows by the great cinematographer Karl Struss.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Not a great success at the time, probably because its horror is more intellectual than graphic, this adaptation of HG Wells' The Island of Dr Moreau is nevertheless a remarkably powerful film.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although the attempt to horrify is not accomplished with any marked degree of subtlety, there is no denying that some of the scenes are ingenously fashioned and are, therefore, interesting.

January 28, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film precedes the articulated mind and language of Boris Karloff's creature in Bride of Frankenstein; the beasts' killing of their mad creator also anticipates the monster's destruction of Dr. Pretorius.

August 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Film International
Film International

What pushes it over the edge into the realm of actual genius... is Laughton's absurdly good performance as Moreau, one of the great pieces of horror movie acting.

March 14, 2012 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

An eerie, atmospheric pre-code horror tale, adapted from H.G. Wells classic book, The Island of Dr. Moreau.

January 29, 2012 Full Review Source: IGN DVD
IGN DVD

a disturbing and provocative horror gem

November 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

This may have been made (and banned) in the 1930s, but it remains a neatly disturbing horror with a definitive ending.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Laughton is great, but overall misses the mark.

September 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

Chilling, unforgettable Dr. Moreau telling with creeps supplied by Laughton and Lugosi.

January 10, 2009
Video-Reviewmaster.com

This is a horror milestone, and, despite several attempts, a better adaptation of Wells's book has yet to be made.

March 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

A horror classic featuring Laughton's hammy performance and Lugosi as the keeper of the law. Better than any of its remakes.

October 17, 2003
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

There's not a wasted frame in this chilling horror film that was banned in England upon its first release.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

It has not lost its power to shock.

April 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Is this the greatest horror film ever made? Nah, probably not. But it could be.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus

Audience Reviews for Island of Lost Souls (The Island of Dr. Moreau)

The first and most fortunate adaptation of H.G. Wells' literary work. Released in the same year of Tod Browning's cult film "Freaks", also it does not shy away by showing very realistic and frightening make up effects, even if the former had real actors portraying the creatures, this picture is more elegant and elaborate. A brilliant Charles Laughton not only embodies the blindness and evil caused by hubris, but also humanizes his character.
October 17, 2013
pier007

Super Reviewer

love laughton and he is dead creepy here but the bad makeup effects really put me off. the movie was banned for years for it's suggestion of bestiality and it is indeed very strange. kind of like 'the most dangerous game' only with mutants
January 26, 2012
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

In the world of 1930s films, the pre-code era is looked upon as one of the greatest times for filmmaking. Hollywood hadn't cracked down on immoral thins being filmed. If anything was edited, it was usually sound clips that referenced God (the worst offending example was a horrific edit on the 1931 "Frankenstein" and the "IT'S ALIVE" speech) and other little things. But most scenes with disturbing themes and deaths made their way to theaters unscathed. "Island of Lost Souls" is one of those films that Hollywood left relatively untouched. "Lost Souls" is not really scary, not in the sense that when you watch it you'll leap out of your seat in terror. Instead, it is relentlessly creepy with some weird themes that haven't even been thoroughly examined in desensitized times (mainly the ethics of bestiality). The only moment that might be regarded as scary happens almost right at the end of the movie, and let me say, I did leap off of my couch and shriek "OH MY GOD." In total, this is an underrated gem from the pre-code era, and now Criterion has finally released it on DVD and Blu-Ray (prior to last year, the only way to watch the film was on LaserDisc or VHS), so check it out.
January 23, 2012
Jacob Ethington

Super Reviewer

Hands down the best adaptation of the Island of Dr. Moreau. Now that's not saying a lot as the other adaptations are REALLY weak, but seeing Laughton and Lugosi work together is well worth the watch.
January 3, 2012
kenstachnik

Super Reviewer

    1. Dr. Moreau: They are restless tonight.
    – Submitted by Alex K (19 months ago)
    1. Dr. Moreau: Mr. Parker, do you know what it means to feel like God?
    – Submitted by Alex K (19 months ago)
    1. Ruth Thomas: [hearing chanting] What's that?
    2. Dr. Moreau: The natives, they have a curious ceremony. Mr. Parker has witnessed it.
    3. Ruth Thomas: Tell us about it, Edward.
    4. Edward Parker: Oh, it's... it's nothing.
    5. Dr. Moreau: They are restless tonight.
    – Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Foreign Titles

  • Island of Lost Souls (1933) (DE)
  • Island of Lost Souls (UK)
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