On Thursday, October 31 — Halloween! — the Secret Cinema will present
our only horror-themed program of the season, when we present THE SECRET
CINEMA HALLOWEEN GRAB BAG. The main attraction will be what is possibly
the creepiest, scariest movie from the 1930s horror movie cycle, ISLAND
OF LOST SOULS. This acclaimed masterpiece from the golden age of the
genre stars Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau, a mad scientist attempting
to accelerate evolution by surgically turning beasts into men.
And, since this pre-code classic runs just a snappy 70 minutes, we’ll
include an extra-generous helping of surprise short subjects to round
out the show — all with a spooky or supernatural theme!
There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00.
As usual, this Secret Cinema program will be entirely projected in 16mm
film on a giant screen (not video).
Spooky short subjects will include cartoons, trailers and other surprise
short films…including one in 3-D!
A complete description of the feature follows.
ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1933, Dir: Erle C. Kenton)
H.G. Wells’ 1896 novel THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU has been adapted for the
movies at least five times, but never more stylishly or effectively than
in this first version. A goateed Charles Laughton gives a chilling
performance as a fiendish scientist playing God and ruling over an
island of surgically-created beast/man experiments. Discipline is
dispensed with a whip and visits to the “House of Pain,” but a revolt is
soon brewing. Bela Lugosi plays the “Sayer of the Law,” and his chant of
“Are we not men?” would inspire the rock band Devo many decades later.
The atmospheric cinematography by Karl Struss (SUNRISE, DR. JEKYLL AND
MR. HYDE) adds to the tension in a film that was banned in many
countries for a variety of forbidden themes, including violence,
blasphemy and sex. Michael Weldon wrote in THE PSYCHOTRONIC ENCYCLOPEDIA
OF FILM that this was “probably the best horror film ever made. No other
film has as many different and scary faces as this one.” The grotesque
cast of extras reportedly included future stars Randolph Scott, Alan
Ladd and Buster Crabbe. The early 1930s offered an embarrassment of
riches in the genres of horror and science fiction, but ISLAND OF LOST
SOULS can stand proudly next to more-famous classics like FRANKENSTEIN