Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau (2014)
August 7, 2015 5:34 PM - Subscribe

Behind the scenes chronicle of how clash of vision, bad creative decisions, lack of interest and really bad weather plagued the disastrous production of the 1996 adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau.
posted by brundlefly (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This film is streaming on Netflix right now. I thought I knew the broad strokes of what happened with this film, but it turns out I was completely wrong. It's a shame things turned out the way they did, because Stanley's screenplay isn't half bad.
posted by brundlefly at 5:36 PM on August 7, 2015

That was fascinating. Now, I'm going to have to watch Hardware and Dust Devil.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:51 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hardware is a lot of fun. I have yet to see Dust Devil though.
posted by brundlefly at 3:24 AM on August 8, 2015

I started watching this recently, I'd like to finish it but it's so damn depressing! I really enjoyed Hardware and Dust Devil. They are not perfect movies by any means, but they have a definite style to them. It's sad that Stanley didn't bounce back from this debacle, he's someone I had hoped would keep making interesting movies.
posted by beowulf573 at 8:14 AM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, this movie broke my heart, but at the same time, it was pretty hilarious. The clusterfuck just kept snowballing misfortunes and drama like it was actually cursed or something. I remember this movie coming out, because I have had a thing for The Island of Dr. Moreau since I was pretty much an infant, and I didn't even go see this because I knew I couldn't handle them doing that to that story.

It must be so frustrating to be an auteur. Not only do you have to find a crew to cooperate and help you create your vision, but once you've gotten past the shoestring stage, you have to content with committees and focus groups throwing out hamhanded 'improvements' to your art before you're even able to create it, so you throw in some bad weather and a few other external misfortunes, and dang.

It probably happens all the time, maybe without the whole 'disappearing into the wilderness, then returning in disguise to witness your ultimate humiliation firsthand' part, but seeing it so carefully documented is enlightening.

Brando, though. OMG. I remember seeing clips of that mini-me stuff from the movie, but I had no idea it was Brando's idea. I feel bad for Stanley. I really do. But I have to go somewhere to laugh for about an hour. Again.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:02 AM on August 8, 2015

I really enjoyed hearing from the actors who got caught up in the whole thing.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:52 AM on August 8, 2015

I'm going to have to watch this. I'm not sure why it's so hard to make a decent movie out of HG Well's novel but it's been tried three times and hasn't worked yet.
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 PM on August 8, 2015

Still keen to helm a movie, Stanley came up with the most commercial script he could imagine: Hardware. The screenplay was based on a super 8 he had made as a teenager called Incidents in an Expanding Universe. “

Well, no. It is, however, my personal favorite movie based on 2000 AD, even if it was done illegally.
posted by maxsparber at 10:45 AM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I went to a screening where the producer talked briefly beforehand. It was a fascinating look into Hollywood in the 90s, and how absolutely wrong a production can go, with all those ridiculous anecdotes, like Brando demanding peacock feathers, and Richard wearing a mask and gloves and being told to go near the fire, and the actors buying a Scaletrix set with their per diem...

It was absolutely engrossing. I do wish they could have gotten Thewlis's take on the events, but the producer did say he didn't want to speak about the film, and I don't blame him one bit.

Also, he said that the lawyers went over it to make sure there was no libel in it, and, yeah, Val Kilmer apparently really is that much of a dick.
posted by Katemonkey at 11:37 AM on August 9, 2015

The films (both Dr. Moreau and the documentary) are the subject of a recent How Did This Get Made podcast.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:20 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's sad that Stanley didn't bounce back from this debacle

Well, he didn't bounce back in terms of making more commercial films, but he seems to be doing alright at the end of the film, so it's perhaps not as depressing as you're imagining.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:22 AM on August 10, 2015

Well, depressing for me, I'd like to see more feature films by him. :-) But I'm glad he's doing well.
posted by beowulf573 at 3:21 PM on August 10, 2015

Ha, listened to the How Did This Get Made podcast today. I had forgotten most of the craziness, I haven't actually seen the move since it came out. I actually paid to see it in the theater.

I feel the urge to finish the doc and then watch the movie again.
posted by beowulf573 at 2:24 PM on August 11, 2015

I actually paid to see it in the theater.

I was excited to see it in the theater. Frankenheimer and Stan Winston doing HG Wells? I was so there and then I was so sadly disappointed.
posted by octothorpe at 2:30 PM on August 11, 2015

The documentary treats Brando as being some sort of insane trickster who existed only to fuck with the film, but Brando's contributions are the only thing that make the film worth watching -- his stuff is iconic. Even Val Kilmer, who turns the film toward an enjoyable madness at the end, does so in part by impersonating Brando.

I have a theory about Brando that has been percolating for a while. I think that, because of his considerable talent and his enormous good looks when he was younger, he was pushed into being a lead actor in mainstream films. But he almost instantaneously revolted against that, and, as his career progressed, he became more and more the thing he had a real genius for: a cult movie star.

Frankenheimer, et al, tried to push the film into a shape designed for mass approval (understandably, considering how much was being spent). But Brando had signed on to do Stanley's film, which was a cult film, and, as a result, whatever else happened, suddenly Brando shows up like he's starring in something by Jodorowsky.

He made the movie he intended to make, and fuck the suits in Hollywood. It's just too bad he's only onscreen for a half hour.
posted by maxsparber at 1:08 PM on August 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

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