Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr Moreau

tfwlostsoulThe story behind one of ‘the worst films ever made’ is fascinating, hilarious and frustrating and I say frustrating because it’s clear how passionate and knowledgeable Richard Stanley is about the subject matter and while he may not have been the best person to shoot The Island of Dr Moreau, he understood what the story was about and how best to tell it. Lost Soul is in a similar vein to Jodorowsky’s Dune, the story of a film and singular vision that was never meant to be.

There’s no denying Stanley is an odd fellow but he’s the sort of odd fellow I think I’d get along with. He talks about his deep interest in witchcraft and even claims that a few spells were cast in order to ensure the film’s success.

Director Richard Stanley had made a name for himself with Hardware and Dust Devil but this success was not enough experience for him to be at the helm of a major production starring film icon Marlon Brando.

You can’t help but feel sorry for Richard Stanley, everything that could go wrong, did.

Terrible weather conditions that ruined sets.
Brando’s daughter commits suicide which delays his arrival for shooting and when he does arrive, he hasn’t learned his lines.
Val Kilmer acts like an asshole, was he just in character, do we blame his divorce or just accept that the guy was an asshole? As much as I like Kilmer, he acted terribly towards just about everyone in the cast.

Stanley didn’t have a lot of help from those around him, he was out of his depth and could and should have had some help from his crew but sadly as much as they believed in his vision they couldn’t or wouldn’t support him.

That said the documentary is fairly well balanced in that it’s clear stanley didn’t do himself any favours. He was clearly overwhelmed by the job and didn’t deal with this well, which led to others losing faith in his ability to make the film.

So Stanley was unceremoniously fired from the film and ordered to stay away from the set.
Meanwhile he was replaced by John Frankenheimer “the last of the great screamers” and as Balk puts it “hated my guts”.

Fairuza threatened to walk if Stanley wasn’t hired back but was threatened with legal action and was told she’d never work again. Then follows a great anecdote about her fleeing the set.

No one was happy with Frankenheimer, the constant script changes meant the film was in constant flux, not a great way to make a film.


Unsurprisingly Val Kilmer and the not once mentioned David Thewlis are nowhere to be seen in the interviews but the amount of crew members and other actors make up for that.

I’d love to tell you more about this documentary but I don’t want to spoil the fun. There are some great stories in this and some really well chosen people to interview.

As for ‘the worst film ever made’ I actually quite like The Island of Dr Moreau which I wrote about earlier this year after I finally got round to watching it.

Lost Soul is excellent, a great in depth look at the dark side of filmmaking, the fun of filmmaking and how a bad experience can stop a creative mind in its tracks.

Lost Soul is available to watch on US Netflix. I highly recommend it!


About Moxie McMurder

Mad, bad and dangerous to know.
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