The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)

PG | 98 mins | Horror | 1977

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HISTORY

       Filming began 13 Dec 1976 on St. Croix, Virgin Islands, according to the 3 Nov 1976 Var and 3 Nov 1976 LAT, after the film promotion office of the Virgin Islands Department of Commerce lobbied producer Sandy Howard. The 8 Nov 1972 HR reported that producer John Temple-Smith and Metromedia Producers Corp. had developed The Isle of Doctor Moreau a couple of years earlier with the hope of filming it in Malta or the Canary Islands. The 13 Jul 1977 Var noted that the film cost $6 million, though Sandy Howard, in an earlier letter to the 26 Jan 1977 Var, said he was “contemplating a minimum expenditure of $7,265,000.”
       AIP registered the name “Humanimals” as a trademark for the film’s fifteen half-human half-animals, who required a team of twelve makeup men who began work early each morning. Makeup took four hours to put on and one hour to remove. The twenty-six wild animals used in the film were trained at the Enchanted Village in Buena Vista, CA, by Ralph and Toni Helfer, the 13 Feb 1977 LAHExam reported. The Helfers used “affection training” to shape their animals’ behavior. The menagerie was trucked to Miami, FL, and shipped on a five-day cruise to St. Croix.
       The character “Maria,” played by Latina actress Barbara Carrera, did not exist in H. G. Wells's 1896 novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Maria was a hybrid of two characters that screenwriters Waldemar Young and Philip Wylie created for Paramount Pictures’ Island of Lost Souls (1932, see entry), the first American and first ... More Less

       Filming began 13 Dec 1976 on St. Croix, Virgin Islands, according to the 3 Nov 1976 Var and 3 Nov 1976 LAT, after the film promotion office of the Virgin Islands Department of Commerce lobbied producer Sandy Howard. The 8 Nov 1972 HR reported that producer John Temple-Smith and Metromedia Producers Corp. had developed The Isle of Doctor Moreau a couple of years earlier with the hope of filming it in Malta or the Canary Islands. The 13 Jul 1977 Var noted that the film cost $6 million, though Sandy Howard, in an earlier letter to the 26 Jan 1977 Var, said he was “contemplating a minimum expenditure of $7,265,000.”
       AIP registered the name “Humanimals” as a trademark for the film’s fifteen half-human half-animals, who required a team of twelve makeup men who began work early each morning. Makeup took four hours to put on and one hour to remove. The twenty-six wild animals used in the film were trained at the Enchanted Village in Buena Vista, CA, by Ralph and Toni Helfer, the 13 Feb 1977 LAHExam reported. The Helfers used “affection training” to shape their animals’ behavior. The menagerie was trucked to Miami, FL, and shipped on a five-day cruise to St. Croix.
       The character “Maria,” played by Latina actress Barbara Carrera, did not exist in H. G. Wells's 1896 novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Maria was a hybrid of two characters that screenwriters Waldemar Young and Philip Wylie created for Paramount Pictures’ Island of Lost Souls (1932, see entry), the first American and first sound adaptation of the book; one character was “Lota, the panther woman,” portrayed by actress Kathleen Burke, and the other was “Ruth Thomas,” an upper-class British woman played by Leila Hyams. The hint of a bestial relationship between Lota and the "Braddock" character (called Parker in Island of Lost Souls ) led to the film being banned in the United Kingdom until 1975, according to the 20 Feb 1977 LAT. Though Maria is physically close to the exotic Lota, her genetic origins remain ambiguous and she never regresses, as Lota did, but the producers briefly considered a shock ending in which Maria gave birth to a kitten. As it is, “The girl remains a puzzle,” Carrera said of her character to the 11 Jul 1977 LAT. “The question is whether or not she had once been an animal.”
       American International Pictures opened the film in 735 U.S. and Canadian theaters on 13 Jul 1977, the company’s “largest promotional push” to that time, according to the 13 Jul 1977 DV. Director Don Taylor and the distributor stressed that The Island of Dr. Moreau was not a remake of Island of Lost Souls, even though the two films “have the same basic plot,” the 11 Nov 1976 DV and 2 Mar 1977 Var noted

      The end credits contain the following statement: “We wish to thank: Fountain Valley Corp.; U. S. Virgin Islands’ Film Commission; The Honorable Cyril E. King, Governor; and the citizens of St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands for their extraordinary cooperation.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Feb 1977.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1976.
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Daily Variety
14 Oct 1976.
---
Daily Variety
11 Nov 1976.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jun 1977.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jul 1977.
---
Entertainment Today
10 Oct 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 1977
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 1977.
---
LAHExam
13 Feb 1977
LA Today section.
Los Angeles Times
3 Nov 1976
Section F, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
29 Dec 1976
Section E, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
20 Feb 1977
Section S, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jun 1977
Section H, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
10 Jul 1977
Section R, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jul 1977
Section F, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jul 1977
p. 1.
New York Times
14 Jul 1977
p. 12.
Variety
3 Nov 1976.
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Variety
26 Dec 1976.
---
Variety
26 Jan 1977.
---
Variety
2 Mar 1977.
---
Variety
13 Jul 1977
p. 18.
Women's Wear Daily
14 Feb 1977
p. 28.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Samuel Z. Arkoff Presents
A Skip Steloff/Sandy Howard/Major Production
A Cinema 77 Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy grip
Stillman
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set dec
Leadman
Const coord
Const foreman
Painter
Greensman
COSTUMES
Ward des
Cost
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus post-prod services
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Asst spec eff man
Titles & Opt
MAKEUP
Creative makeup
Creative makeup
Creative makeup
Creative consultant
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hair stylist
Hair stylist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
In charge of post prod
Casting
Pub
Transportation capt
Transportation asst
AIP coord
Prod controller
Loc auditor
Local paymaster
Prod vehicles furnished by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntman
Animal stunt coord
Animal stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (London, 1896).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 13 July 1977
Production Date:
13 December 1976--late February 1977 in St. Croix, Virgin Islands
Copyright Claimant:
Orion Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
1 July 1977
Copyright Number:
LP48439
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Germany (West), United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1911, after being adrift in a lifeboat for seventeen days, shipwreck survivors Andrew Braddock and his friend Charlie wash ashore on a remote jungle island. While the weaker Charlie stays behind and is murdered by mysterious figures, Braddock searches for human life, falls into a pit, and wakes up several days later in the bedroom of a house. His hosts, Dr. Paul Moreau and a mercenary named Montgomery, tell Braddock he is inside Dr. Moreau’s protective compound and that Charlie was found dead from exposure and buried. That evening, while recuperating, Braddock hears strange animal noises beyond the compound's bamboo fence. The next day, Moreau introduces Braddock to Maria, an exotic young woman he claims to have rescued from a brothel when she was eleven. He also warns Braddock to never leave the compound after dark. At dinner, Braddock notices that the mute house servant, M’Ling, has a brutish appearance despite his domestic demeanor. Later, after hearing anguished animal noises in the night, Braddock wanders into Moreau’s library and as he looks up his host’s name in a directory of scientists, Moreau enters and recites what is on the page: He is a doctor of chemistry, physiology, and anatomy who showed early promise in the field of eugenics, but the scientific community spurned his ideas about "cellular structure and growth" and ostracized him. Moreau displays embryos of a dog, a mouse, and a human floating in formaldehyde, and tells Braddock they all start the same but the cells change according to each one’s genetic destiny. What would happen, he proposes, if one could turn a dog’s embryo, say, into a human? The next day, on the beach, Braddock ... +


In 1911, after being adrift in a lifeboat for seventeen days, shipwreck survivors Andrew Braddock and his friend Charlie wash ashore on a remote jungle island. While the weaker Charlie stays behind and is murdered by mysterious figures, Braddock searches for human life, falls into a pit, and wakes up several days later in the bedroom of a house. His hosts, Dr. Paul Moreau and a mercenary named Montgomery, tell Braddock he is inside Dr. Moreau’s protective compound and that Charlie was found dead from exposure and buried. That evening, while recuperating, Braddock hears strange animal noises beyond the compound's bamboo fence. The next day, Moreau introduces Braddock to Maria, an exotic young woman he claims to have rescued from a brothel when she was eleven. He also warns Braddock to never leave the compound after dark. At dinner, Braddock notices that the mute house servant, M’Ling, has a brutish appearance despite his domestic demeanor. Later, after hearing anguished animal noises in the night, Braddock wanders into Moreau’s library and as he looks up his host’s name in a directory of scientists, Moreau enters and recites what is on the page: He is a doctor of chemistry, physiology, and anatomy who showed early promise in the field of eugenics, but the scientific community spurned his ideas about "cellular structure and growth" and ostracized him. Moreau displays embryos of a dog, a mouse, and a human floating in formaldehyde, and tells Braddock they all start the same but the cells change according to each one’s genetic destiny. What would happen, he proposes, if one could turn a dog’s embryo, say, into a human? The next day, on the beach, Braddock meets Maria walking with an ocelot, and when the animal runs into the jungle, they chase after it and Braddock loses Maria in the undergrowth. He is shocked when he sees M’Ling lying on his stomach at the edge of a pool of water, drinking like an animal. He mentions it later to Montgomery, and early the next morning Braddock sees Montgomery and Moreau cart M’Ling into the compound in chains and drag him to a nearby building. The next day, Braddock rescues his rowboat from the surf and ties it to a tree to await repairs, and on his way back through the jungle, he hears creatures stalking him and runs to the compound. Inside, Braddock enters a barn where several animals, including a boar, a bear, a leopard, a hyena, and a lion, are caged. A door leads to a laboratory, where under a blanket he finds a bear-like man, Bearman, strapped to a table. As Moreau enters the laboratory, he tells Braddock the man began as a bear. He explains that he found the “cell particle” that controls heredity and has developed a serum that, in conjunction with surgical implants, modifies an animal’s cellular structure. Once he completes his experiments, he will be able to repair human embryos or fetuses in the womb and eradicate disabilities. Later, when Braddock returns to his room, Maria seduces him. The next morning, Moreau leads Bearman to the cage of a bear, but when Bearman lets the animal lick his arm, Moreau becomes enraged that Bearman is "still an animal" and whips him. Disgusted with Moreau’s behavior and hearing strange noises outside the compound, Braddock arms himself with a rifle and goes into the jungle. Finding a large cave, he goes inside, but several animal-like humans surround and menace him. Their leader, Sayer of the Law, appears, tells them Braddock should not be harmed, and commands them to recite the law: “Not to eat on all fours”; “Not to eat flesh”; “Not to spill blood”; “Not to hurt other men.” Violating the chanted words, Lionman attacks Braddock, but Moreau arrives and orders them to subdue Lionman. From now on, Moreau tells them, they must obey Braddock. Later, in the compound, Moreau explains that maintaining the creatures' fear of humans is important because they revert over time to their animal selves, and “If they spill one drop of blood, they will drown us all.” Still, Moreau keeps trying to perfect them. He shows Braddock that Lionman, caged nearby after treatment in the "house of pain," looks more human now than he did earlier. Lionman is returned to the cave, but another "humanimal," Bullman, tired of the law and the visits to the house of pain, leaves the cave in anger. When Bullman sees a tiger at a waterhole, he attacks and kills it. Meanwhile, at the beach, Braddock patches up his boat and tells Maria he wants to take her to England, but she says she cannot live anywhere else. As Braddock and Maria reenter the compound, Moreau and Montgomery give him a horse and order him to accompany them into the jungle. The three men find the dead tiger and enter the cave, where Moreau demands to know who has shed blood? Realizing he will be taken to the house of pain, Bullman escapes, and everyone, including the creatures, chase after him. One of the creatures leads Braddock to Bullman, who begs for Braddock to end his life. Braddock shoots him, and when Moreau arrives minutes later, he is outraged at the young man’s act of mercy. That night, the creatures place Bullman on a raft, set it afire, and send it out to sea. When they come to the compound, Moreau backs them down and sends them to their cave. Braddock convinces Maria it is time for them to escape, but Moreau surprises him by jamming a needle into his throat and injecting a serum that knocks Braddock unconscious. He wakes up strapped to a table in Moreau’s lab, the subject of a new experiment: rather than evolve an animal into a man, he will regress Braddock into a lower species and bring him back, so that Braddock can relate what it is like to be an animal. Moreau injects more serum as Braddock screams. Montgomery is outraged and demands that Moreau unchain his prisoner, but as he tries to stop Moreau, the doctor shoots him. When M’Ling later finds Montgomery’s body dumped in one of the cages, he carries it outside the gate, and one of the humanimals carries it to the cave. Seeing that Montgomery has been murdered, the Sayer of the Law is outraged that Moreau has violated his own law. Meanwhile, Maria is frightened to find Braddock in a cage with coarsened features, but he assures her that he is still human. After two days of starving his prisoner, Moreau feeds Braddock live rats, but Braddock refuses to eat them. To prove his humanity, he recites details from his childhood, but struggles against memory lapses. Moreau shouts for him to “let it go,” but at that moment the doctor hears noises outside the fence and confronts the humanimals. When he is accused of breaking the law, Moreau demands they return Montgomery’s body to him, but the creatures maul him. The Sayer looks at his own bloody hands and declares, “No more law.” Freed by Maria, Braddock grabs a rifle, looks for Moreau, and finds him dying. Threatened by the creatures, Braddock hoists the dead Moreau, whose eyes are still open, into the air on a rope to give the impression he is still alive, but the Sayer pokes the body with a stick and declares him dead. The humanimals break into the compound, free the animals, and set fire to the buildings, but the animals turn on them. Meanwhile, Braddock escapes the burning compound with Maria and M’Ling, and although a lion kills M’Ling, the couple reaches the rowboat and pushes it into the surf. Lionman chases them, but Braddock impales him with a broken oar. After a time adrift on the ocean, Braddock returns to normal, and they see a ship coming toward them.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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