Fans of vintage horror will be in for a treat this weekend, as another vintage horror flick will be shown on TV.
Svengoolie Presents: “Island of Lost Souls” (1932)
The film, which was adapted from H.G. Wells’ novel, “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” which is about an evil scientist who turns wild animals into human beasts. This was the first film adaptation of Wells’ story, and was remade in 1977 (under the title of Wells’ story, with Burt Lancaster and Michael York) and 1996 (with Marlon Brando, directed by John Frankenheimer).
Erle Kenton began his film career with Mack Sennett’s Keystone Films and played one of the “Keystone Kops” in silent comedies for Sennett’s company. After “Island of Lost Souls,” Kenton would direct several horror features for Universal Studios, including “The Ghost of Frankenstein” (1942), “House of Frankenstein” (1944) and “House of Dracula” (1945).
Around the same year that Kenton directed “The Ghost of Frankenstein,” he would also direct two comedies featuring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello- “Who Done It?” and “Pardon my Sarong” (both 1942).
The cast of “Island of Lost Souls” (1932)
The film features Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau, Bela Lugosi as Sayer of the Law, Richard Arlen as Edward Parker, Leila Hyams as Ruth Thomas, Arthur Hohl as Montgomery and Kathleen Burke, who was only billed in the opening title credits (and advertisements) as “The Panther Woman.”
According to a 1932 Paramount press book, Burke was chosen out of 60,000 actresses to play the part of Lota (“The Panther Woman”) in a studio-sponsored talent search. One year later, Burke starred in the Paramount thriller ”Murders in the Zoo,” which also featured Charlie Ruggles and Lionel Atwell (that aforementioned film was also shown on “Svengoolie” back in April of this year).
“Island of Lost Souls:” One of the definitive horror greats
Though it was deemed controversial when it was first released in 1932, the film has remained a cult horror classic, and was the inspiration for the name of the debut album for the rock band Devo (taken from Bela Lugosi’s memorable line in the film- “Are We Not Men?”).
Some 84 years after its general release, “Island of Lost Souls” still gives chills to modern audiences, and Svengoolie will present the film with his trademark sketches in-between commercial breaks. You won’t want to miss it!
Sat., June 26 at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central on Me-TV Network
In the Frederick, MD/Washington, D.C. area: WJLA 7.2/Comcast 204
In Baltimore: WBAL-TV 11.2/Comcast 208 (time-delayed to 11 p.m. due to TV-11’s special 10 p.m. newscast on their Me-TV subchannel)
“Island of Lost Souls” is available from The Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-Ray (in conjunction with Universal Studios, owners of the pre-1948 Paramount sound features)