Richard Stanley planning 'weirdly metatextual' return to 'The Island of Dr. Moreau' (exclusive)

Tom Beasley
Contributor
Richard Stanley was fired from the 1996 adaptation of 'The Island of Dr. Moreau'. (Credit: JC Olivera/Getty Images/New Line Cinema)

Richard Stanley is set to take another crack at adapting The Island of Dr. Moreau — more than 20 years after his last bite at the cherry went disastrously awry.

The 53-year-old director was fired just three days into filming for the 1996 adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel, which was ultimately helmed by John Frankenheimer, and starred Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer.

His notorious departure was chronicled in the 2014 documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau, which featured interviews with Stanley and other figures associated with the movie.

In a new interview with Yahoo Movies UK to promote his return to cinema with H.P. Lovecraft adaptation Color Out of Space (in cinemas and on demand from 28 February), Stanley revealed that he has written a pilot for a television series based on the 19th century classic of sci-fi horror.

Read more: The true story of legendary flop Dr. Moreau

The new Island of Dr. Moreau project was first mooted in 2017, but it seems as if it is now on the path to fruition.

“This thing may reboot itself,” said Stanley. “It was the initiative of several of the original partners on the film — notably Edward R. Pressman, who was the original producer.”

He added: “After Lost Soul, a desire to reboot the Island has been floating around. There is a project, but there's no cast attached as yet.

Marlon Brando in 'The Island of Dr. Moreau'. (Credit: New Line Cinema)

“It's very much dependent on who can climb into the larger than life shoes vacated by Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster and Charles Laughton.”

The Wells story about a mad scientist creating human-animal hybrid beasts has been adapted numerous times in the century since it was published, including as the classic 1932 movie Island of Lost Souls.

Read more: Blockbusters finished by different directors

Stanley admitted that the bitter memories of his previous experience working on the Moreau story have fed into his new take, which could serve as something of an exorcism for the filmmaker.

He said: “It has got so weirdly metatextual by now that I accept that I'll probably never really escape the Island. Going in and writing the new version felt almost inevitable.

Richard Stanley is seen during the photocall for the film 'Color Out of Space' at the Sitges Film Festival on October 11, 2019. (Photo by David Zorrakino/Europa Press via Getty Images)

“There are things from the whole experience that I've been able to incorporate back into it.

“All of the beast people are corporate property and all of their DNA is copyrighted because they are newly designed creatures rather than naturally born creatures.

“So I guess that somehow all of the problems the movie has been through have fed back into the material.”

Read more: Dr. Moreau writer reveals odd stories from the set

Stanley had spent years working on the script for The Island of Dr. Moreau, but struggled with Val Kilmer on the set and repeatedly butted heads with studio bosses at New Line Cinema.

He was abruptly fired in the form of a fax sent to the movie’s Queensland, Australia set.

'The Island of Dr. Moreau'. (Credit: New Line Cinema)

Looking back, Stanley said he has few regrets about his 1990s experience, but said it “confirmed all of my darkest suspicions about human nature”.

He added: “Marlon Brando told me to get away from the film industry, that all of the people in the industry were hyenas and to try to make a meaningful life for myself amongst so-called real people.

Marlon Brando contemplates in a scene from the film 'The Island Of Dr. Moreau', 1996. (Photo by New Line/Getty Images)

“But Brando had been in the industry for so long that I don't think he knew what the outside world was like.

“As far as I can see, the outside world is also filled with hyenas and people are every bit as rotten as they are in the film industry.

“In fact, after a bunch of years away from the industry, I'm super happy to be making movies again.”

A farm falls under the spell of a strange meteor in 'Color Out of Space'. (Credit: Studiocanal)

Color Out of Space is the first of a planned trilogy of Lovecraft adaptations Stanley is making as his return to the big screen.

Read more: Kilmer defends Brando over Island of Dr. Moreau fiasco

The movie stars Nicolas Cage as an eccentric farmer whose family is threatened by a growing madness when a magenta-hued meteor lands on the grounds of their secluded farm.

Color Out of Space is in UK cinemas and on demand from 28 February.