This $6 million adaptation of the H.G. Wells horror-fantasy tale, previously filmed in 1932 by Paramount as Island of Lost Souls, is a handsome, well-acted, and involving piece of cinematic storytelling, made in the Virgin Islands.
Burt Lancaster has the lead role of the renegade scientist who dabbles in forbidden eugenic experiments on a remote Pacific island, where Michael York is washed up in a shipwreck in the early days of the 20th century.
Wells showed an uncanny gift for prophecy in his imaginative tales, and the doctor’s experiments on beasts and humans eerily foreshadowed the Nazis’ use of humans as guinea pigs.
Lancaster, despite his ungodly ideas, is given some resonance as a man who thinks his demented work is for the betterment of the human race. York gives one of his best performances, and Barbara Carrera’s enigmatic beauty is evocatively treated.