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Film / The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

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"I have almost achieved perfection you see, of a divine creature that is pure, harmonious, absolutely incapable of any malice. And if in my tinkering I have fallen short of the human form by the snout, claw or hoof, it really is of no great importance. I am closer that you could possibly imagine sir."
Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau is a 1996 film adaptation of the novel The Island of Doctor Moreau. It is directed by John Frankenheimer,note  and stars Marlon Brando as Moreau, David Thewlis as Edward Douglas, Val Kilmer as Montgomery, and Fairuza Balk as Aissa.

Was the subject of the Documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau.


This work contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Edward Prendick is named "Edward Douglas".
  • And Some Other Stuff: Montgomery's description, about what he adds to the serum:
    Montgomery: I add a little methamphetamine, some morphine, some 'shrooms, and some other shit.
  • Artificial Animal People: Being a Setting Update to the modern day, the film has Dr. Moreau use genetic engineering to produce his Beast-Men. In a further departure from the novel, though most of the Beast-Men were originally animals, one of the females gives birth to a hybrid baby, showing that Moreau's modifications breed true.
  • Bad Boss: Hyena-Swine ends up shooting his own followers for no other reason than just because he wants to remain "God Number One" among the animal hybrids.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The diploma for Moreau's Nobel prize is written in Swedish. It states that he got it for genetic manipulation, not for inventing velcro like Montgomery later tells Edward.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bio Punk
  • Cat Girl: Aissa becomes one as her humanity starts to regress.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The opening credits, with a really fast montage of eyes, cells, and clouds.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Moreau.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Two of Doctor Moreau's closer servants are cat girl Aissa (Fairuza Balk) and dogman Azazello (Temuera Morrison).
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Replacing the surgical method of the original novel. Moreau uses genetic engineering to create transgenic human/animal hybrids, some of whom look almost perfectly human, while others are humanoid but covered in fur and have snouts, hooves, horns, fangs and claws; without regular injections of Moreau's serum, however, these creatures lose their intelligence and slowly regress to their animal forms.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Douglas concludes this at the end of the film, reflecting on how cruel even unaltered humans can be, and says he "goes in fear" after the island. All this to a backdrop of riot scenes and similar events.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The monstrous animal creatures created by Doctor Moreau are depicted as sympathetic victims of Moreau's cruelty (albeit in many cases with beastly savage behavior, but due to instincts and no malice) showing Moreau as the real monster instead.
  • Left the Background Music On: When Edward catches his first glimpse of Aissa, who is belly-dancing in the rain, "Nightbird" by Deep Forest begins playing in the background. Then when Aissa notices Edward watching her, she shuts off a nearby speaker, and the song stops playing.
  • Little Bit Beastly: Aissa has only very sharp canine teeth and slightly pointy ears to show her nature.
  • Little People Are Surreal: Majai.
  • Mad Scientist: Moreau.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Aissa.
  • Mini Mook: Majai, who inspired both Mini-Me and the clone of Dr. Mephesto.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Moreau momentarily soothes the rebellious man-animal hybrids with his piano playing.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Towards the end, Hyena-Swine has Edward at his mercy but Edward manages to convince Hyena-Swine that he needs to be "God Number One" among his faction. This causes Hyena-Swine to turn on and kill some of his own companions who accompanied him in killing Moreau, get injured when one of them returns fire, receive a beating from some of the nearby beast-men, and finally enter into the burning house to commit suicide.
  • Setting Update: The film takes place in the 1990s, instead of the 1890s, between the UN being a thing, the use of computers and other tech present, the music, and the use of Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke for the hybrids' origin.
  • Shock Collar: All Moreau's creations have an implant that induces pain by remote control.
  • Too Dumb to Live: It turns out for Hyena-Swine that shooting his own followers who, up to that point, had no quarrel with him and followed him loyally just because Edward told him he needed to be "God Number One" wasn't exactly the best idea. Naturally, this ends with Hyena-Swine getting shot, beaten, and then walking into the burning home, effectively committing suicide.
  • Tropical Island Adventure
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The animal creatures created by Doctor Moreau and kept under submission by means of fear and torture rise against him at the end.