Twenty years after its theatrical release, the tepid adaptation of H. G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau starring Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, and David Thewlis has been all but forgotten from the memories of science fiction fans. Despite the disappointing final product, the recent documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau revealed fascinating details about the film's production, granting the film a mythical status in the world of genre cinema.
Hot off the two successful films Hardware and Dust Devil, director Richard Stanley was granted the opportunity to bring to life the sci-fi novel for a modern audience.
Two of the biggest issues came from stars Brando and Kilmer, with Brando often refusing to learn his lines, as the script was changed almost daily, while Kilmer was going through a bitter divorce, demanding that his part be cut nearly in half, with the director having to cast a different actor as the hero. The stars themselves also clashed, resulting in them sharing virtually any scenes together.
The tensions got so bad that Stanley was fired and replaced, but rather than heading home, headed into the nearby jungle to live with locals, only to find his way back on set weeks later while wearing a bulldog mask, eventually appearing in the film's final cut.
After all of these horror stories from the film's production, Stanley revealed to BirthMoviesDeath that he's going to attempt another adaptation of the story, with a few key differences.
"The project does live again..."
The director revealed, "At this stage, I can't say exactly by who, and how long it will take, but the project does live again, largely thanks to [documentary director] David [Gregory]. We're currently scripting and designing the thing. It's going to be an all-new screenplay and an all-new cast of beast-people; the original creatures are copyrighted by Warner Bros. [parent company of New Line, which produced and released the '96 film].
He added, "I wasn't particularly happy with them anyway. The final designs of the creatures in the [replacement director John] Frankenheimer version were disappointing, and I think there's huge room for improvement."prevnext
"We could be pretty unrestrained..."
Considering what has been accomplished in a variety of TV platforms when it comes to genre entertainment, the filmmaker doesn't know if he'd like the project to manifest as a film or series.
"I'm hoping it will metamorphose into three feature films or six television hours," Stanley explained. "I'm actually pushing it toward the latter. I would prefer it to be on TV rather than as a theatrical movie or movies, because a) we would have less interference from the studio, and b) we could have an R-level product."
His last attempt was PG-13, with many of the more violent and sexual themes virtually cut out of the story completely.
"I believe that going for the multiplex, it would have its teeth pulled and its nails cut again, and going to television, we could be pretty unrestrained in the way we approach the material," Stanley points out. "There are a lot of scenes I've always wanted to do, including those with the sexually charged dolphin people [laughs], that have fallen out along the way, which I would like to get back into it."prevnext
"Feels a little bit like Evel Knievel..."
Sadly, Stanley's attempt to make Moreau in the '90s was his last time directing a feature film, but it doesn't sound like that will stop him from moving forward, were the circumstances to arise.
Stanley confessed, "The fact that it may now come back to life and happen all over again, after a 21-year period of lying dormant, feels a little bit like Evel Knievel trying to jump the Grand Canyon a second time, because there will be a built-in expectation as to what the f**k will happen this time [laughs]. Considering that the last one is legendary as one of the worst location shoots of all time, up there with Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, it's difficult to imagine what else could happen."0comments
Also, much like Knievel, Stanley shows no fear about the task at hand.
"But I'm ready for it, and I'm praying that this time around, it will come out right, and a definitive Moreau can finally reach the screen," the filmmaker pronounces. "Of course, that will come down to a huge amount of insanely hard work, and I'm thoroughly aware of the odds, and the fact that it has kind of ruined multiple careers by now."prev