The Island of Dr. Moreau has a famously troubled history of book-to-film adaptations from the semi-classic Island of Lost Souls, the kitschy 70s Island of Dr. Moreau, and the famously disastrous 1990s production started by Richard Stanley and birthed into unnatural life by John Frankenheimer. In 2004, Charles Band decided to try his own hand at Dr. Moreau but his movie wasn’t an adaptation, it was a sequel.
We open on our hero Eric (John Patrick Jordan) trying to track down his brother. He follows the trail to a strip club where he finds out that his brother was very interested in one particular woman. He witnesses the woman (Lorielle New) punch a hole clean through a man’s head and drive off, Eric tails the car to an old asylum where he and his party are captured.
It turns out the Asylum is the current grounds of the infamous Dr. Moreau (Jacob Witkin), who has continued his experiments. It soon becomes known that Moreau himself is being held hostage by his creations who are angry at him for giving them life and will not let him go until he has made all of them fully human.
There’s a lot of other stuff going on on the side with a sadistic pig-man who wants to sleep with the cat lady, a big dumb hyena/mountain lion hybrid that likes hugging corpses, an old partner of Moreau’s who wants his daughter’s humanity restored, and the sexy cat woman who is in every Dr. Moreau adaptation despite the fact that no such character appears in the book. The movie is dirty and blood-drenched and potentially very upsetting (Dr. Moreau was always a much gorier premise than a lot of popular fiction of the time) but it’s mostly just a dull and convoluted drama.
The make-up is very plasticy and not very realistic, but it is suitably disgusting and that certainly counts for something. The characters aren’t great and the pigman (played by Peter Badalamenti II) is annoying as hell. I’m not sure under what circumstances this film was made as Full Moon would’ve already have folded by the time this came out, but Band doesn’t seem as into it as he did on other movies. Dr. Moreau’s House of Pain may be the bridge between Band’s early esoteric stuff and his later lazy genre fare.
Watch, Toss, Or Buy? Toss.
If You Liked This, Watch: Island of Lost Souls (1932), Terror is a Man (1959), The Twilight People (1972), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), The Animal (2001), Manimal (1983)