|The Island of Dr. Moreau|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Frankenheimer|
|Produced by||Claire Rudnick Polstein
Edward R. Pressman
G. Wells (novel)
Walon Green (screenplay)
|Music by||Gary Chang|
|Cinematography||William A. Fraker|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Release date(s)||August 23, 1996 (US)
November 15, 1996 (UK)
|Running time||100 minutes|
|Budget||$40 million (estimated)|
The Island of Dr. Moreau is a 1996 film, the third major movie version of the H. G. Wells novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, a science fiction horror story about a scientist who attempts to convert animals into people. The film stars Marlon Brando, features Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, David Thewlis and Ron Perlman, and was directed by John Frankenheimer. The screenplay was written by Walon Green and Ron Hutchinson.
In the year 2010, Dr. Moreau has successfully conquered the impossible: to use human DNA in animals to make them more humanlike and regress their animal instincts and make the divine human, free of malice and hatred. After many attempts, only one experiment was successful and now the unsuccessful ones are given drugs every day to keep them from regressing into their animal forms. They are also controlled through shock therapy to keep them in order.
However, one of the creatures has found a way to stop himself from receiving shock treatment and when he informs others of this, the animal hybrids break loose on the island.
One of Dr. Moreau's allies is Dr. Montgomery, a physician gone mad with devotion to Moreau and intense drug abuse.
United Nations negotiator Edward Douglas, the sole survivor of an airplane crash, is brought ashore on Moreau's island — against his better judgement — by Dr. Montgomery, and eventually becomes his prisoner. Horrified by the doctor's monstrous experiments and fearing for his own life, Douglas seeks the help of Moreau's lovely daughter, Aissa, in escaping the island, but is foiled at every turn by Dr. Montgomery and his man-beast lackeys.
|David Thewlis||Edward Douglas|
|Ron Perlman||Sayer of the Law|
|Marlon Brando||Dr. Moreau|
|Val Kilmer||Dr. Montgomery|
|Daniel Rigney||The Hyena-Swine|
|Nelson de la Rosa||Majai|
Eventually, a director's cut was released on DVD containing four minutes of extra footage from the theatrical release. Some highlights:
Unfortunately for New Line the production was plagued with problems from the outset. The first sign of trouble appeared when Kilmer suddenly decided - for reasons of his own - that he wanted his role cut by 40%. The original director on the project, Richard Stanley, knew that it was impossible to cut the role of UN diplomat, Edward Prendick (later changed to Edward Douglas) by such a drastic amount, but he wanted to keep Kilmer onboard, so he hit on the idea of switching him to the role of Dr. Montgomery, Moreau's assistant on the island. Kilmer agreed to this proposal, so the part of Prendick was given to Rob Morrow.
The chosen location for the film were the steamy, tropical rainforests of North Queensland, Australia, but just three days into filming, New Line fired Stanley, (a move that was believed to have been influenced by Kilmer) and brought in veteran film director, John Frankenheimer. The reasons for Stanley's dismissal are not very clear, but it's been said that he wasn't a strong enough director (to cope with the notoriously difficult Kilmer) and that he didn't have his process very well thought out. Frankenheimer, like virtually every member of the cast and crew, came on board because he wanted the opportunity to work with Brando.
When Morrow also decided to leave the production, Frankenheimer needed to find a new lead actor and brought in David Thewlis to play Douglas. Frankenheimer's vision of the movie was very different from Stanley's, and he and Brando decided to rewrite the script with the help of scriptwriters, Walon Green and Ron Hutchinson. The whole production was shut down for one and a half weeks while these changes were implemented.
Once shooting resumed, however, the problems did not dissipate. New pages were turned in only a few days before they were shot and the breakneck pace Hutchinson kept up didn't equal quality. Frankenheimer and Kilmer had an argument on-set, which reportedly got so heated, Frankenheimer stated afterwards, "I don't like Val Kilmer, I don't like his work ethic, and I don't want to be associated with him ever again". Because of this, there were two famous phrases Frankenheimer was quoted as saying to the press in reference to Val Kilmer. The first was, "There are two things I will never ever do in my whole life. The first is that I will never climb Mt. Everest. The second is that I will never work with Val Kilmer ever again." The second, more tongue-in-cheek phrase was, "Will Rogers never met Val Kilmer." Frankenheimer also reportedly clashed with Brando and the studio, as they were concerned with the direction he was taking the film.
According to Thewlis, "we all had different ideas of where it should go. I even ended up improvising some of the main scenes with Marlon." Thewlis went on to rewrite his character personally. The constant rewrites also got to Brando's nerve and having no motivation to keep rehearsing new lines, he was equipped with a small radio receiver. Thewlis recollects: "[Marlon would] be in the middle of a scene and suddenly he'd be picking up police messages and would repeat, 'There's a robbery at Woolworths.'" Even Brando clashed with Kilmer who didn't make any new friends with his continuously erratic behavior. According to Film Threat magazine, Brando pointed out to him: "You're confusing your talents with the size of your paycheck".
Kilmer has stated that the time filming on-set was "crazy." He was served with divorce papers from his then-wife Joanne Whalley, Brando was dealing with the suicide of his daughter Cheyenne, as well as the implications of a French nuclear test near the atoll he owned.
After a joke Stanley reportedly told to the production designer of burning the set down, security was tightened in case of him actually trying to sabotage the project. One rumor surfaced (promoted by Stanley) that he did however manage to sneak back on the set in full costume as one of the many human-animal hybrids. Another reports that he also showed up at the film's wrap party where he ran into Kilmer, who was said to have apologized profusely for Stanley's removal from the film.
Thewlis skipped the film's premiere by choice.
The Island of Dr. Moreau later got seven nominations for the Razzie Awards including Worst Picture, "winning" Worst Supporting Actor for Marlon Brando (Val Kilmer was also a nominee in this category). The film also got nominations for two Saturn Awards: Best Make-Up and Science Fiction Film.
The two earlier versions of the story: