Tuesday, August 11, 2015


I remember a time when just the word "documentary" would almost put me to sleep. These days, though, it seems like you can't swing a selfie stick without hitting a half-dozen docs on weird, wild and interesting subjects (be sure to check out THE SHIEK, REWIND THIS! and PLASTIC GALAXY just to name a few). Personally, I'm digging the emerging micro-genre of docs which explore the burning question "what happened?!" behind the scenes of films that never were, like Tim Burton's SUPERMAN LIVES starring Nicolas Cage or, as new contributor Kris Gilpin covers today, Richard Stanley's legendary ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, which started as a modestly-budgeted horror, sci-fi, adventure mash-up and ballooned into a big-budget disaster of epic proportions. – DT 

IMHO: I liked Richard Stanley's HARDWARE and I loved his DUST DEVIL, it's wonderfully atmospheric even on a low budget. In David Gregory's fascinating, sad documentary LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY'S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU you see Stanley's dream of filming an adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau get taken away from him bit by bit. In the process, Val Kilmer proves what they say about him – he acts like a total, pretentious prick to everyone (as an ex-character actor wannabe I loathe hearing about overpaid, overrated, ungrateful prima donnas!) and was also the first to start tearing apart Stanley's thoughtful script. Then Marlon Brando came on board, wearing thick whiteface makeup and an ice bucket on his head (!), just to fuck things up (and subsequently ruin more of the script). At least when Brando messed with people on set he seemed to do it with some affection (unlike Kilmer). For instance, Brando had great affection for the little man who played his assistant (genre icon and baseball good luck charm) and insisted he be with him in every scene in the film. I've noticed that, in his last years, Brando seemed to become a kinda sweet old guy (as Dustin Hoffman seems to be now) and not just some nasty aging actor (also see Don Juan DiMarco). Eventually the studio kicked Stanley off his own labor-of-love project and brought on John Frankenheimer, who proved to be another bullying prick to everyone (and destroyed what was left of the original screenplay). At this point the entire production became one big clusterfuck. See this doc if you're interested in how big-budget films are ruined by too many cooks. It certainly makes you feel sad for the very talented Richard Stanley who, to date, has never been able to attempt another feature film after the way he was treated here. – Kris Gilpin

LOST SOUL is available from Amazon.

Kris Gilpin wrote/interviewed film people for dozens of vintage film zines (see theaterofguts.com and templeofschlock.com) and was interviewed for John Szpunar's great Xerox Ferox zine book. At least solve the fun film clues on Gilpin's 145 free movie crossword puzzles (!) at tinyurl.com/3seq3cc.

No comments: