Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Film Review


Release Date: December 1932

Studio: Paramount

Director: Erle C. Kenton

Starring: Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hymans

Special Notes: TCM Classic Film Festival, 2013

This film was shown in the Discoveries category at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival.


Dr. Moreau imports animals, such as lions and tigers to his island. The animals are the subjects of experimental surgeries by which he attempts to change them into humans. The, mostly horrifying, resultant creatures roam the island. When Edward Parker is dumped in his hands, Moreau hopes his most successful subject, a converted female panther, will respond as a young woman to the man. When Parker's fiancee arrives with a rescue party, Moreau attempts to prevent them from leaving. He has two of his creatures kill the captain of the rescue ship. This act breaks the code of law that Moreau has established for his "humans". After Parker and his fiancee escape, Moreau’s creations turn on him. They drag him into his operating room, known as the House of Pain, seize his instruments, and take their revenge.


Island of Lost Souls was a special midnight-horror-movie presentation at the film festival, and horrific it is. Based on H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), the concept is disturbing, and its realization on film is chilling. Charles Laughton is striking as the obsessed and rather depraved Dr. Moreau.