Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014)
Dir: David Gregory
Starring: Richard Stanley, Fairuza Balk, Marco Hofschneider, Hugh Dickson
UK release: Frightfest 2014
The incredible, true behind the scenes story of Richard Stanley’s now infamous Dr Moreau remake, told by the people who were really there.
Its wordy title notwithstanding, Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey Of Richard’s Stanley’s Island Of Dr. Moreau is a remarkably enthralling documentary feature. Borne of director David Gregory’s lengthy conversations with the incomparably eccentric, goth overlord Richard Stanley, it charts the unmitigated disaster that was his attempt to remake the classic The Island Of Dr. Moreau.
Stanley himself is the focus of the piece, and rightly so. An articulate, intelligent, and very passionate man with a demonstrable love of horror, he is a fascinating character and it’s an absolute joy to listen to him chat away for an hour and a half. That the story is so utterly bizarre, and true, is just the icing on the cake because, after watching Lost Soul, it becomes clear that one could easily listen to Stanley discuss anything.
His loyal friend, and star of what would become the 1996, Marlon Brando vehicle that was released worldwide, Fairuza Baulk (the really goth one from The Craft) is another great talking head – even if she does look kind of creepy after years of plastic surgery – and their enduring respect for each other is wonderful.
It’s clear from listening to Stanley that he had real passion for the piece, that he just wanted to do it justice after reading the source material and falling in love with it. The accompanying artwork, of which we are given just short glimpses, is truly spectacular.
The attention to detail on the creatures, for example, is breath-taking, and to hear of the troubles he had with New Line and Bob Shaye in spite of how much work he had put in is heartbreaking, even if it does give us an interesting insight into how the movie business works.
At its core, Lost Soul offers a very dark, yet ultimately factual, glimpse into Hollywood and, in particular, how everyone is disposable in the movie world. In spite of how much of Dr. Moreau was his vision, Stanley was replaced without a second thought, his dreams crashed and his job lost. Although Brando’s demands on the set of the film, once Stanley was kicked off, are legendary the stories cast members tell of he and Val Kilmer acting like dicks are hilarious, it’s all in good fun up until the point you realise these people actually had to work alongside them.
The film set was plagued with almost unbelievable amounts of bad luck, and although it was eventually released (and panned), working on it essentially ended Stanley’s career. Happily, though, he is not jaded and it is perhaps his optimistic outlook that makes Lost Soul a less bleak film than it could’ve been.
Naturally, the recent news that he may get to make his Dr. Moreau after all makes Lost Soul even more heart-warming but as it is, this is one of the most captivating, bizarre stories ever committed to film. It is a story that must be told and it is truly wonderful that now, finally, Stanley has been given a proper chance to tell it.
Don’t let its lengthy title put you off, Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey Of Richard Stanley’s Island Of Dr. Moreau is one of the most captivating documentaries you’re ever likely to see, made all the more shocking because it’s true.