In the second English language adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, Michael York plays the protagonist, Andrew Braddock, who washes ashore of said island. Nursed back to health by the ‘good’ doctor, played by Burt Lancaster, he finds himself admiring the lovely Maria (Barbara Carrera) and both disgusted and intrigued by the variety of experimental man-beasts Moreau has created. As his skepticism turns to fear, Braddock realizes he must escape, but it may be too late.
Stored within this strange tale are ethical questions about what makes us human (or animal) and what power we hold properly and improperly in adapting the natural order. While genetic code and cloning are now the way we often discuss the ‘appropriate’ use of our scientific abilities, The Island of Dr. Moreau is a study in the more basic cross-breeding – even if it’s neither plants nor animals we mean, but rather humans.
Released on DVD by Olive Films, this version clearly stands superior to the 1996 version featuring Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando. The special features include a commentary from paranormal investigator Jeff Belanger and Massachusetts’ horror host Dr. Dreck, as well as the written essay by Gorman Beauchamp called “The Island of Dr. Moreau as Theological Grotesque.”