The Island of Dr. Moreau

Junesploitation: Day 3 – Animals!

“This is the most outrageous spectacle I have ever witnessed.”

The story of Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer's ongoing competition to see who can wear the silliest thing on their head (computer chip? bucket of ice?) in what seems intended to be a Shakespearean special effects vehicle with dialogue scrapped together from clippings recovered from the cutting room floor of the previous year's Judge Dredd (“Is there still law?” “But how can there be law without the father?”).

There’s really no way to describe this as anything other than an incoherent mess. David Thewlis shows up as the man brought to this island (by crashing his plane and having him kill the only two other survivors as he drifts aimlessly at sea? not a great plan) where a bored and sweaty Marlon Brando has been experimenting with genetics in order to either turn animals into humans or humans into animals (either way it seems like cheating to use Thewlis’s DNA to reverse his daughter’s regression, if that’s even what he was doing).

It just makes no sense, which is even more remarkable and frustrating given how often characters talk about their personal histories. There might be an arc buried somewhere beneath the nonsense about scientific overreach and the repercussions of social oppression (Frankenstein meets Planet of the Apes), but whatever they were going for is thrown out in the last act to have a bunch of unmotivated action scenes where the experimental animals attack the protagonists for no discernible reason. I guess you can’t make a revolution without breaking a few humans.

In its defense, there was so much going wrong behind the scenes that it doesn’t seem to be any one person’s fault that the result was such a failure. There are a few redeeming factors: the make-up is impressive, and whenever Val Kilmer is on screen the film begins to show signs of life. I didn’t really hate the film in spite of its laughably scattered storytelling, but then the final insult comes when the last scene rubs the film’s attempted central metaphor in your face (Do you get it? Man was the real animal!).

Bad enough to be boring and occasionally maddening, but never bad enough to be worth watching just to see the train wreck happen. The worst kind of bad movie.

"It's turned completely yellow."

Remakes