Following the efforts of filmmaker Richard Stanley (Hardware, Dust Devil) to make his adaption of H.G. Wells the Island of Doctor Moreau, Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau.
The documentary is a fascinating exploration of egos and dreams colliding with commerce. It provides a very honest look, with everyone being brutally truthful about what they were feeling. It is full of downright bizarre stories.
For example, Stanley was shocked to find out that New Line announced the Island of Dr. Moreau with Roman Polansky. They were unhappy with his desire to hire Marlon Brando, as New Line had just dealt with him on the Johnny Depp vehicle Don Juan De Marco. It had not gone well, apparently. Realizing he might lose the movie, he resort to witchcraft. This is not a joke. He actually sought a warlock friend to cast a spell.
Stanley notes when he came to Hollywood, they put him up in an apartment complex. He talks about how he became more and more paranoid that this was an attempt to shut him out.
Some of the surprises are to find some of the names they had associated with the film. James Woods and Val Kilmer were hired, and then Kilmer decided he really did not like his role. They convinced him to stay by switching him over to Woods’ role and sending James Woods packing. They asked Rob Morrow (Northern Exposure) to try out, and he was intrigued, but shortly after filming, he begged to get off the picture.
Production closed down, and Stanley was fired from the production, which led to a breakdown for Stanley who was totally absorbed by the project. And according to actress Fairuza Balk, this is actually when the nightmare began.
The introduction of John Frankenheimer to save the film resulted in a miserable crew and a whole different kind of craziness that they were meant to be escaping when firing Stanley. Director David Gregory has managed to assemble a large number of people involved and to paint a vivid picture of the failure of Stanley’s dream, and ultimately the film the Island of Dr. Moreau. It is a terrifically engaging film.