After making Island of Lost Souls, its star, Charles Laughton, vowed he would never visit a zoo again.
To cast the part of the Panther Woman, Paramount held a nationwide search in the summer of 1932, and more than 60,000 young women entered. Pictured here are the four finalists, with winner Kathleen Burke at far right.
Bela Lugosi was in dire financial straits and accepted an enormous pay cut to be in the film, earning only $875. By the time Island of Lost Souls began shooting, he had filed for bankruptcy.
Laughton already knew how to crack the whip—he’d starred as a sadist in the 1928 play A Man with Red Hair.
Island of Lost Souls was banned in Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary, India, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, and Tasmania.
When creating the character of Dr. Moreau for the novel on which the film is based, H. G. Wells was inspired by the ongoing trials of Oscar Wilde. He saw both the man and the character as genius outcasts.
The two main beast-men, Ouran and Gola, were played by wrestlers Hans “The German Oak” Steinke and Harry “Ali Baba” Ekezian.
Island of Lost Souls was cowritten by Waldemar Young, grandson of the Mormon Church leader Brigham Young.
Leading man Richard Arlen began his career as a deliveryman. His stint in Hollywood was launched when he broke his leg making a delivery to the Paramount lot one day; the studio cast him in a film to avoid a lawsuit.
Island of Lost Souls’ monster faces were crafted by the legendary makeup artist Wally Westmore, then head of Paramount’s makeup department, though he is uncredited in the film. Westmore, whose most celebrated work to that point had been in the Oscar-winning Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Fredric March (pictured), would go on to do makeup for more than three hundred films.
Susan Arosteguy is a producer at the Criterion Collection.