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Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau (1 Viewer)


Stunt Coordinator
Sep 2, 2019
Real Name
After having just seen Richard Stanley's 'comeback' film COLOR OUT OF SPACE, I figured it was time to finally catch up with this Documentary about the legendary bomb that cast out the filmmaker for two decades. Director David Gregory (who Produced an anthology that Stanley contributed a segment to) had easy access to his subject and filmed him at length. Gregory also assembled footage from various sources which were shot during MOREAU's production. The other principle interviews include New Line Cinema's Robert Shaye, Producer Edward Pressman and actors including Fairuza Balk (who comes off best) and Marco Hofschneider.

The details and recollections are fascinating. It's pretty clear early on that this was going to be a difficult production even if everything went to plan. Needless to say, it didn't. Perhaps the most tragic error was made early on, when the proposed modestly budgeted $8M film started to accumulate stars to its cast, primarily Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer (hot off of Batman). Bruce Willis and James Woods were also attached at various points. The budget eventually ballooned to some $40M, which was considerable not only for an Indie at the time, but, for a Director like Stanley who had only two low budget features under his belt. Executive Producer Tim Zinneman claims in the film that he sensed that the eccentric Stanley was in over his head early on and insisted that a contingency be built in the budget to cover the cost of a replacement Director.
Once pre-production began in earnest, Zinneman's fears seemed prescient. LOST SOUL Director Gregory clearly sympathizes with Richard Stanley, but no matter how much he tries, it's hard to escape the conclusion that he contributed mightily to his downfall. Not showing up to meetings, disappearing for hours and handing production personnel drawings instead of discussing issues with them is no way to conduct one's self. Still, you feel for Stanley. The biggest villains are Marlon Brando who didn't show up on time (and, maybe, just maybe 'save' Stanley) and, especially, Val Kilmer who apparently didn't want to be there and just decided to be a nuisance in ever way. Even when longtime veteran Director John Frankenheimer was brought in, even he couldn't tame the (real) beasts.
As intrinsically interesting as the stories and footage is, I can't say I learned very much here. Most of these stories were well known at the time of the MOREAU's release. And, LOST SOUL as a Doc is pretty unfocused. It's just a bunch of segments presented in something of chronological order. Important details are glossed over while minute ones are covered in exhaustive detail. Richard Stanley disappears for long patches and his unifying voice is missed. There is no narration, and more importantly, no real vision here as to how to present the material.
Still, no matter how middling the Documentary filmmaking is, LOST SOUL is an interesting look at one of the 90s most fascinating misfires.

Reggie W

Senior HTF Member
May 31, 2004
Agua Verde
Real Name
Pike Bishop
It is interesting to get such an exhaustive look at a picture that is obviously pretty lousy. It's also pretty generous that Richard Stanley, who I do think is quite a talented and unusual guy, would want to take part in a documentary that pretty much details an embarrassing and lousy incident from his past. I think it was pretty wonderful that he was so open about it. The resulting picture is not at all his film nor his mess, it was Frankenheimer's and so the story told in Lost Soul is basically how Stanley appeared to have a breakdown under intense pressure and and got fired. I think it is quite enlightening if that's the story you watch it to hear about. It does serve as an explanation of "Whatever happened to Richard Stanley?" because he explains what he did and where he's been since Moreau fell apart and he made his return to feature film directing.

He obviously made some documentaries in the interim which were interesting and probably did not serve to make anybody believe he had recovered from his collapse that got him canned on Moreau. His Color Out of Space is quite good as both a Lovecraft film and an interesting horror film, I thought, and shows he has a unique eye and talent for making interesting offbeat pictures.

I do think Lost Soul is a bit of an oddball doc because the subject is really how this guy did not direct this picture and how the picture turned out pretty lousy. I really enjoyed it as a look at a kind of motion picture making that basically no longer exists and a guy that is a talented oddball that probably, had he kept it together and not been saddled with Brando and Kilmer, might have made a much weirder and more interesting film.

I mean it is kind of cool that Lost Soul exists because it documents something most involved would probably rather forget about. I would also say I found Lost Soul to be a much more interesting and entertaining ride than Frankenheimer's Moreau.

Douglas Bailey

Second Unit
May 7, 2001
Massachusetts, USA
Real Name
Douglas Bailey
I found Lost Soul to be an interesting counterpart to Hearts of Darkness: The Making of Apocalypse Now; the former discusses the similarities between Wells' story and Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and both documentaries focus on disastrously out-of-control film productions, far away from studio oversight, with Marlon Brando doing his level best to throw as many spanners in the works as possible. But Coppola, an operatic personality, managed to ride it out and create something magical and amazing out of the chaos, and Stanley, who (putting it kindly) seems more reticent and guarded… didn't. It's a fascinating illustration of just how fine the line between inspiration and disaster can be.

Like the OP, I didn't find Stanley all that sympathetic despite the filmmakers clearly lining up on his side, but then the New Line execs and Frankenheimer don't really come off all that appealingly either. Only Fairuza Balk, Rob Morrow, and the German and Australian beast actors really acquit themselves with any dignity.

Speaking of actors, I'm sad that they didn't get an interview with Ron Perlman, and sadder still that they didn't interview David Thewlis, the source of my favourite quote about the film:
“If someone asks, ‘What do you think of The Island Of Dr Moreau?’, I’m not going to go, ‘Well, it was a good film which didn’t quite work.’ No, I’m going to say it’s a pile of shit. What a pile of cack.”

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