Saturday, August 10, 2013

OF LOST SOULS AND DEATH KISSES


"The Island of Lost Souls is just like a nightmare. One might almost fancy it the result of too much mince pie." - Film critic Arthur Forde

Decades and light years away from the 1977 version, the original, 1932 ISLAND OF LOST SOULS struck terror in the hearts of movie goers. It was one thing to imagine a creature created out the body parts of human corpses, but to think that a madman was shredding up animals alive and making humans out of them!

The Reviews and Previews column by Arthur Forde in the Dec. 10, 1932 issue of Hollywood Filmograph includes a review of the then just-released Paramount film. Claiming the movie "out- Frankensteins Frankenstein", the review begins with an amusing line, "All that can be done in the way of horror pictures has now definitely been done." Mr. Forde goes on to say that Charles Laughton is "unfortunately cast" again in his role as Dr. Moreau, as he has played "four lunatics and one half-lunatic in the 5 movies he has made." He says of the newcomer who portrays the much-publicized Panther Woman as having a "striking charm".

ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932, Paramount) publicity still.
 Of Bela Lugosi, he compares the visage created by makeup artists Wally Westmore and "Man in the Gorilla Suit" Charles Gemora (both uncredited) to the legendary circus freak, Jo-Jo the Dog-faced Boy, and calls his role "aptly played" and who "bellows from behind foot-long hair which sprouts eagerly (sic) from his face".

Despite their later rise to a greater respectability by film critics and historians, horror films were not taken all that seriously at the time they were first shown in their contemporary era, hence the usual lighter tone of review text that was many times seen when discussing these emerging classics. All-in-all Forde does give ISLAND OF LOST SOULS a pretty good word. He ends his review with the positive, "If you want horror, here is your dish!"

Along side this piece is a review of THE DEATH KISS, the K.B.S.-produced mystery thriller that had been released only days before on December 5, 1932, with a premiere in, of all places, San Bernardino!" This delightful little film artifact should interest Monsterologists with its cast chock full of horror players, Bela Lugosi, David Manners, and Edward Van Sloan.


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