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The Island of Dr. Moreau [Blu-ray]
(Don Taylor, 1977)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: American International Pictures (AIP)
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 21,010,677,802 bytes
Feature Size: 19,247,388,672 bytes
Video Bitrate: 22.92 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: June 23rd, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1609 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1609 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
English (SDH), none
• Extended Trailer (5:51)
•Original Theatrical Trailer (2:14)
• Deleted Final Image
Description: In The Island of Dr. Moreau, which is based on a novella by H.G. Wells, Braddock Michael York is a decent young Englishman who has unaccountably been saved from being thrown overboard from a ship sailing in a remote area of the Pacific by the mysterious Dr. Montgomery Nigel Davenport. Dr. Montgomery is accompanying a cargo of animals destined for a tropical island. At first an "honored guest" prisoner on that island, he is finds his contacts with the natives increasingly disturbing, for they are not like any men he has ever seen. Eventually it transpires that these "men" are experimental reconstructions from wild animals made by a particularly sinister scientist, Dr. Moreau Burt Lancaster. He feels that he is in danger from the animal/men and from Dr. Moreau himself and does not know where to turn. This story was also filmed in 1933 as The Island of Lost Souls, starring Charles Laughton as the monomaniacal Dr. Moreau and was remade yet again in 1996 with Marlon Brando in the title role.
HG Wells' novel (about a mad doctor who rules an island by grafting men and animals together on his operating table) is ideal material for screen horror because it's filled with subversive political undertones. The 1933 version with Charles Laughton (Island of Lost Souls) made the most of these, but here director Don Taylor seems determined to iron out all the interesting emphases in favour of a visual and narrative style that reduces everything to the level of schoolboy adventure. The island becomes an antiseptic paradise, and Moreau (Lancaster) is no longer a white-suited colonial sadist but the standard misguided scientist. Only Michael York's metamorphosis into a beast has any impact, and the film predictably fails to follow through even on that.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
The Island of Lost Souls had a primal charge; alas, the remake has cleaned it up. The book has been changed in many ways that are pointless. Dr Moreau is no longer a vivisectionist, instead is a genetic engineer (the human gene had not been discovered when H.G. Wells wrote the novel). While genetic tinkering certainly makes much better science than merely transplanting animal parts onto other bodies, it wipes out the darker, more sadistic charge the original film had – the House of Pain loses any significance, for instance. The original film had scenes – the Humanimals vivisecting Dr Moreau, Moreau’s wanting to breed the hero with his panther-woman – that led to it being banned for 27 years in the UK but both of these here are replayed without impact. Indeed, while the original had unmistakable undertones of bestiality, Barbara Carrera’s being a Humanimal is only vaguely suggested here.Excerpt from Moria located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
1977's The Island of Dr. Moreau goes Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. This is only single-layered with a modest bitrate and but the image looks clean and decent in 1080P. Natural colors (ocean, flora and fauna of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands) look pleasing with tight colors and some depth. Contrast exhibits decent black levels. Daylight scenes dominate but there is some minor noise on the darker, night sequences. This Blu-ray can look a dull at times but I discount any manipulation as I doubt the film was worth the effort to do work on. This looks good but I wouldn't say great. It's probably a fair representation of the theatrical. Nothing, visually, offended me.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
There is an adept transfer in the form of a DTS-HD Master 2.0 surround at 1609 kbps. There are effects including the genetically modified creature noises, the ocean, the wind, guns, tigers, etc. . Laurence Rosenthal (Requiem for a Heavyweight) does the unremarkable score but it has its deeper moments in lossless. There are no flaws - this track evenly supports in all areas from aggressive snarls, torches, punchy gunfire to the occasionally suspenseful soundtrack. There are optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc Blu-ray disc.
Supplements include a vey rough looking extended trailer (running almost 6-minutes), an original theatrical trailer and a deleted final image not seen in the film (shhhh).
May 25th, 2015
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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