Directed by: Erle C. Kenton
Starring: Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Bela Lugosi, Leila Hyams, Kathleen Burke
Erle C. Kenton’s Island of Lost Souls (1932) is without a doubt the grimmest and most completely horrific of all “golden age” horror films. That’s a statement that few are going to argue with. Its horrors are more straightforward and more in-you-face than anything else of the time. As a teenager, I managed after a time to get my mother to watch the occasional horror movie—I cannot imagine how or why at this point—and she even came to enjoy some of them. At least she said she did. The notable exception was Island of Lost Souls, and she thought it was one nasty bit of goods. I can’t say that she was wrong, though I think it’s a pretty magnificent nasty bit of goods. I’ve said something like that before and in more than one place, but it bears repeating. This ultra stylish tale of the sadistic Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton) and his island full of half-human horrors he’s made from animals—not to mention his plans to breed one of them with a shipwreck victim (Richard Arlen)—is just as slick as it is “sick,” and one of the absolute essentials of the first wave of horror movies. The film was screened—in a much inferior print—last summer in a double feature with White Zombie (1932), and for my complete review visit http://www.mountainx.com/movies/review/island_of_lost_souls_white_zombie.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Island of Lost Souls on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.