The Island of Dr Moreau Redux

Charles Laughton in The Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Despite repeated attempts to make a film or television show out of H.G. Wells’ novel The Island of Dr Moreau, I still feel that the book is somehow underrated—particularly considering how far the adaptations have strayed from the source. Some even drifting into incomprehensibility.

The latest attempt will apparently be from the creators of Hemlock Grove, a Netflix original program. Based on the involvement of Executive Producer Eli Roth of Hostel fame,* I gave the first couple of episodes of Hemlock Grove a try and quickly lost interest. I thought there was one interesting conceptual bit around a werewolf transformation, buried in a landfill-like dump of teen romance clichés.

And while the classic Island of Lost Souls displays an undeniably spooky power in some of its imagery, no film or television adaptation of The Island of Dr Moreau has ever really completely satisfied.

The Island of Dr Moreau remains a remarkably fresh read. Its trendy, at the time, fascination with barbaric vivisection doesn’t seem to date the book at all. In fact, the emergence of genetic engineering and biotechnology as the technological revolution of our age adds an unanticipated relevance.**

While I am forced to reserve judgement until Roth et al have a finished product, I’m not optimistic. But, this new production, is a nice reminder to go back and read the source novel, which is a far richer and weirder experience than you might expect.

“The crying sounded even louder out of doors. It was as if all the pain in the world had found a voice. Yet had I known such pain was in the next room, and had it been dumb, I believe—I have thought since—I could have stood it well enough. It is when suffering finds a voice and sets our nerves quivering that this pity comes troubling us.”
–H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr Moreau

——
*Hostile Fame is the name of my new post-punk band, FYI.
**Not to conflate the two too much. Obviously I like to think the sciences of today operate under more enlightened set of ethical standards than the late 19th Century…right?

About andrew

Andrew James Cornell reads, writes, sometimes sells books and cooks. He spends an inordinate amount of time talking about the differences between types of dashes. He will also lecture anyone who stands still on the importance of Dune (the book), 2001 (the movie), about how under-appreciated Paul Bowles and Italo Calvino are, and the correct way to make an Old Fashioned cocktail.
Tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Island of Dr Moreau Redux

  1. Colleen says:

    **Sadly, wrong.

    I’ve been meaning to read this. That damned Brando mess turned me off the book for years but clearly this isn’t fair. Also, I sometimes wonder if I’m missing a lot in Mieville not having read any Wells.

  2. andrew says:

    It’s a must read as a China Miéville fan for sure. He name checks Dr Moreau as an early formative influence and when you read it, it’s easy to see why—China’s books crawl with the same kind of unsettling chimera. It is critical to clear Brando from your mind as you read though. And really, the Dr Moreau on the page couldn’t be further from that weird-ass mummery.

  3. Pingback: Precision of Naming: Science Fiction, SF or Sci-Fi? - Albino Books

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *