More than two decades after Richard Stanley was fired from the infamous ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau,’ the filmmaker may be getting a second shot at the classic HG Wells story.
There are troubled movies, and then there was 1996’s ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau.’ The science fiction horror flop starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer wound up one of the most notoriously chaotic productions in Hollywood history, and on release proved a critical and commercial disaster.
The whole debacle was explored in depth in David Gregory’s 2014 documentary ‘Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s The Island of Doctor Moreau’ – and it seems that, thanks to this film renewing interest in the subject, Stanley (who was fired after only three days of shooting on the film, and replaced by John Frankenheimer) may get the chance to finally make the film he wanted to make.
As Stanley explains to Birth Movies Death, “the project does live again, largely thanks to David [Gregory]. We’re currently scripting and designing the thing. It’s going to be an all-new screenplay and an all-new cast of beast-people; the original creatures are copyrighted by Warner Bros. I wasn’t particularly happy with them anyway. The final designs of the creatures in the Frankenheimer version were disappointing, and I think there’s huge room for improvement.”
It’s not yet decided whether this new ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau’ will be for the big or small screen, but Stanley says he’s “pushing it toward” TV, in the hopes that this medium would allow him to produce a grislier vision than the 12-rated movie would allow.
“Going to television, we could be pretty unrestrained in the way we approach the material. There are a lot of scenes I’ve always wanted to do, including those with the sexually charged dolphin people [laughs], that have fallen out along the way, which I would like to get back into it.”
Stanley – who broke through in the early 1990s with acclaimed horror movies ‘Hardware’ and ‘Dust Devil’ – has not directed another feature since being fired from ‘Moreau,’ and he seems well aware that, given the film’s notoriety, it may raise some eyebrows to see him tackle it again.
“There will be a built-in expectation as to what the f*** will happen this time [laughs]. Considering that the last one is legendary as one of the worst location shoots of all time, up there with Werner Herzog’s ‘Fitzcarraldo,’ it’s difficult to imagine what else could happen… But I’m ready for it, and I’m praying that this time around, it will come out right, and a definitive ‘Moreau’ can finally reach the screen.”
Well, if Terry Gilliam can finally get ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ made, stranger things have certainly happened.
HG Wells 1896 novel has been adapted to the screen on two other occasions: in 1932’s ‘The Island of Lost Souls’ starring Bela Lugosi and Charles Laughton, and 1977’s ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau’ starring Burt Lancaster and Michael York.