Release Date: July 13th, 1977
Directed by: Don Taylor
Written by: Al Ramrus, John Herman Shaner
Based on: The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells
Music by: Laurence Rosenthal
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Michael York, Nigel Davenport, Barbara Carrera, Richard Basehart, Nick Cravat, Fumio Demura
Major Productions, Cinema 77, American International Pictures, 99 Minutes
“If one is to study nature, one must become as remorseless as nature. You should know that!” – Dr. Paul Moreau
I saw this once, when I was a kid. However, I thought it was a really cool movie and it was my introduction to H. G. Wells’ work beyond just “The Invisible Man”.
In fact, I was initially excited for the 1996 version of The Island of Dr. Moreau but between the critics and my friends trashing the hell out of the film, I ended up going into the theater, prepared for disappointment. Needless to say, I was very disappointed but I also barely remember the movie now and plan to rewatch it in the very near future.
Anyway, this is about the ’70s adaptation, which I can now say isn’t as good as the ’30s version but I do think it’s closer to the source material and more fleshed out.
Additionally, I thought that Burt Lancaster and Michael York both put in really convincing performances and they had a good rapport in the film, until shit started to go sideways. The film reveals its mysteries like a slow burn and even if you know how this story is going to go, the reveals of what’s happening on the island are still effective.
Honestly, I’ve liked York for ages but this is one of my favorite performances by him. It’s also cool seeing him be able to hang with a legend like Lancaster.
I love the practical makeup effects in this, as well, and while they are vastly improved upon in the ’90s adaptation, there is something creepier about how they’re applied, here. You still see the humanity in the faces of the distorted creatures and their eyes are utilized well, speaking through their disfigurements.
This actually stands up to time, fairly well. In fact, it’s similar to how the original Planet of the Apes movies utilized similar effects that have also stood the test of time in spite of the limitations of the era in which they were made.
All in all, this was pretty damn cool to experience again, so many years later.