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Island of Lost Souls(1932)
A shipwrecked sailor finds himself trapped on a remote island in the South Seas. While there, he discovers the island is home to a mad doctor who performs strange genetic experiments.
For more about Island of Lost Souls and the Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray release, see Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on May 9, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi, Kathleen Burke, Arthur Hohl
Director: Erle C. Kenton
» See full cast & crew
Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 9, 2012
Erle C. Kenton's "Island of Lost Souls" (1932) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer, exclusive video interview with biographer Simon Callow, and an exclusive video interview with film critic and historian Jonathan Rigby. The disc also arrives with a lavish illustrated booklet featuring rare production imagery, and more. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
A ship sinks in the middle of the ocean. The only survivor, Edward Parker (Richard Arlen), is picked up by Captain Davies (Stanley Fields) and his men, who are transporting various wild animals to an unnamed small tropical island. Before they reach the island, Parker and Captain Davies get into a serious argument. As a result Parker quickly ends up with the cargo on the island, not in the hands of his beloved fiancée Ruth (Leila Hyams), who has already been informed that he has been saved and is on his way back to her.
The island is run by Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton) and his assistant Montgomery (Arthur Hohl). The former is a mad scientist performing strange experiments on men and animals. The latter is a quiet man who never questions Dr. Moreau. The two rarely talk about anything else but the experiments.
Parker quickly discovers that Dr. Moreau and Montgomery are not the only living creatures on the island. He meets the beast-men, strange creatures that fear Dr. Moreau, and the Panther Woman named Lota (Kathleen Burke).
Dr. Moreau welcomes Parker in his mansion and encourages him to spend time with Lota. While enjoying her company, Parker accidentally discovers the House of Pain, Dr. Moreau's secret laboratory, and learns why the beast-men fear him. Outraged and disgusted, he immediately confronts Dr. Moreau, who warns him that if he does not behave there is a good chance he may never see his fiancée again.
Meanwhile, Ruth learns that Parker has been abandoned on Dr. Moreau's island. Assisted by Captain Donahue (Paul Hurst), she immediately boards a ship bound for the island, and a couple of days later enters Dr. Moreau's mansion. But before they could leave together an accident happens and all hell breaks loose.
Erle C. Kenton's Island of Lost Souls is undoubtedly the creepiest, most atmospheric and certainly most intelligent adaptation of H. G. Wells' classic novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. Heavily censored in the U.S. and banned in the UK until 1958, the film offers some shockingly serious observations about human progress, science and morality, and man's fascination with absolute power.
Laughton's character is a man who plays God. He is a mad scientist who believes that he has absolute power and the right to use it in any way he deems appropriate. His island is a mini-universe controlled by his laws and populated with his creatures, clueless beast-men who strive to be human without truly knowing what it means to be human. As the title of the film suggests, they are essentially lost souls.
Laughton is simply outstanding as the overconfident and manipulative Dr. Moreau. Occasionally he looks like Clark Gable's proud plantation owner Hamish Bond from Raoul Walsh's Band of Angels, but the two characters could not be any more different.
Arlen and Burke are also convincing. The latter looks incredibly seductive once she befriends Arlen's character. The legendary Bela Lugosi also delivers a memorable performance as the Sayer of the Law, though he is practically unrecognizable with the heavy makeup.
The film was lensed by legendary Oscar-winning cinematographer Karl Struss, who worked on such classic films as F.W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927), Rouben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), and Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940) and Limelight (1952).
Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Erle C. Kenton's Island of Lost Souls arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment.
I did a number of comparisons between this release and Criterion's Blu-ray release and think that one would have a very difficult time finding any major discrepancies between the two. Projecting the two releases, I certainly could not see any. Yes, there are contrast and clarity fluctuations, but they are inherited, and present on both releases. Additionally, brightness levels are also practically identical, with the Criterion release possibly having black levels slightly toned down a bit during specific scenes, though the difference is marginal at best, and, in my opinion, unrecognizable during normal playback (compare screencature #9 with screencapture #2 from our review of the Criterion release). Grain is properly resolved. Additionally, I did not see any traces of problematic lab tinkering to report in this review. To sum it all up, fans of Island of Lost Souls residing outside of Region-A territories who could not take advantage of Criterion's Blu-ray release should be enormously pleased with Eureka Entertainment's Blu-ray release. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Eureka Entertainment have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless audio track serves the film well. Obviously, there are some limitations, such as minor clarity fluctuations and inherited light background hiss, but dynamic stabilizations have clearly been performed and fluidity improved. In other words, the audio has been optimized as best as possible. For the record, there are no audio dropouts or serious distortions to report in this review.
Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Eureka Entertainment's release of Erle C. Kenton's Island of Lost Souls is an excellent alternative for folks residing outside of Region-A territories who could not take advantage of Criterion's release. As far as I am concerned, the the technical presentation is just as impressive. Eureka Entertainment have also included two exclusive new interviews. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Island of Lost Souls: Other Editions
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Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Hitchcock, Wilder, McCarey, Kenton, Mizoguchi, and Miike Films Co... - January 24, 2012
Eureka Entertainment have revealed their upcoming titles for the months of April, May, and June 2012. There will be seven new releases added to the Masters of Cinema series: Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Lifeboat, Island of Lost Souls, Ruggles of Red Gap, ...
• Island of Lost Souls Blu-ray - December 15, 2011
Independent British distributors Eureka Entertainment have revealed that they will release a Dual Format Edition of Erle C. Kenton's Island of Lost Souls (1932). The film was previously set to appear only on DVD. The preliminary street date set by the distributors ...
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