It's hard to believe Criterion's new Blu-ray and DVD edition of the 1932 Island of Lost Souls is the first digital release of this seminal 1930s film, but better late than never. The first and still by far the best adaptation of H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau, Lost Souls is in many ways – as is pointed out in the disc's bonus features – the first "torture" film. But its study of a brilliant sadist (a coolly twisted Charles Laughton) bent on creating human beings from jungle animals probes the human mind as well as body. Heavy on atmosphere, with lots of brooding black-and-white photography, a supporting turn from Bela Lugosi as the leader of the beast men, and the unforgettable Kathleen Burke as the "panther woman" Moreau attempts to mate with the film's shipwrecked protagonist (leading man Richard Arlen), Criterion's Lost Souls also offers a new video chat between John Landis, Rick Baker and Bob Burns, as well as interviews with horror film expert David J. Skal and members of Devo, whose Moreau-inspired 1970s video work is also included.
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