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Lost Soul (2014)
Movie Review by The Mortician

Lost Soul (2014) The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island Of Dr. Moreau (2014) I don't know, is it just me or am I the only one who wasn't so bowled over by director Richard Stanley's first movie---HARDWARE? It was cool but just kind of a film noir TERMINATOR ripoff in many ways. I just didn't ever see the promise of this great director deserving of a chance to command huge budgets, Renny Harlin style. His problem plagued follow-up, DUST DEVIL, left me cold--could barely get through that one. LOST SOUL is a documentary on Stanley's third film that was never realized under his direction---1996's New Line Cinema backed Island Of Dr Moreau, which he was slated to direct until he got fired when the shoot began. Director John (PROPHECY) Frankenheimer later replaced him. Personally, I never really had the desire to see '96's Moreau, even when I was reading about it- and I was a fan of the H.G. Wells novel and enjoyed the 1977 movie with Michael York. A remake just didn't interest me and with all the documented on-set squabbling and the horrific reviews...STILL haven't seen it. The doc follows Stanley as he goes over his intended vision and the trials and tribulations he went through to get the movie made before being axed. It's interesting and crazy, but nothing that I haven't seen before: studio heads on different pages and egotistical actors running the show (the stories of Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer on set running amok and doing whatever the hell they want are priceless!), Collectively, there was also a complete disregard for sensible locations and a severe lack of communication between everyone. The producers and assistant directors interviewed in this doc all concur that Stanley was too young, eccentric, and immature to handle the directing duties properly and well...there you have it! Why have a pity party for the guy some 20 years later, you know? There are certainly bigger WRONGS in the world to be obsessed with. Still, this is a worthy doc and all of it wasn't Stanley's fault- he did get caught in between Brando, Kilmer, and a studio that admittedly really didn't want to make the movie to begin with (coming straight from then head honcho Robert Shaye-"I wasn't very enthusiastic about the project whatsoever from the get-go..."). This doc keeps your attention and it's sickeningly hilarious seeing Brando do his APOCALYPSE NOW shtick AGAIN on the Moreau set: arriving weeks late, changing the dialogue, not remembering anything, changing the script, adding actors and props to his scenes, etc. Amazing the power some Hollywood actors had, even when they were no longer box office gold, just faded glory. Once fired, the stories of Stanley's subsequent breakdown and sneaking back onto the set as a costumed extra are hilarious, and the continued problems the new director had seemed very similar to what Stanley went through. In the subsequent decades, Stanley didn't do much to redeem himself in terms of being some visionary director, even in the indie scene. I could understand how that incident would tear you down and sap your motivation, but his short segment in 2011's Theatre Bizarre wasn't very noteworthy either. I mean, it was all right, just not the vision of an uncontained talent that NEEDED $100 million dollar budgets over everyone else. It's the luck of the draw on that, you know? The sense of entitlement that Stanley and his minions have regarding what he "should've had" baffles me. Still, he is a visionary, conceded artist and maybe I need to watch HARDWARE again and give it another chance. My initial viewing of it in the VHS days was that it was okay but nothing too spectacular that we hadn't seen before, you know? Kind of a TERMINATOR-SATURN 3 hybrid mix with Dario Argento lighting. I'll also say that Stanley perhaps didn't deserve to be treated so badly by egotistical actors and the heartless corporate studio mentality, so I'll give him that. In this case, it's a 50-50 responsibility issue in my view. All in all, enlightening documentary, but...still doesn't make me want to see the 1996 Moreau movie, which looks as lousy now as it did when it first came out!

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