By Chuck Stephens
Erle C. Kenton’s monumentally creepy pre-Code adaptation of H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, 1932’s Island of Lost Souls, remains a high-water mark of old-time Hollywood depravity. In it, a classically blockheaded leading man (Richard Arlen) finds himself shipwrecked and nearly led astray by a scantily clad cat-woman (the nineteen-year-old Kathleen Burke, a Hollywood neophyte with extraordinary orbs), a creation of one of the most memorably sado-effeminate villains the screen has ever known: Charles Laughton’s cheerfully moony and hopelessly amoral mad vivisectionist Moreau. A short, surging symphony of horror-film shocks, sexed-up subhumans, and pseudo-science malarkey, Island of Lost Souls continues to echo through the corridors of modern pop culture like the screams of the never-forgotten damned. And so in tribute, having been seduced by certain images of the film’s captives and godforsaken creatures, as well as of its creators, we present them to you, and continue to track the transmigrations of all these now lost but forever luminous souls.