Welcome back to Rotten Ink! As you can see, we have a packed house here at the Rotten Ink Theater as the silent film that we will be discussing on this “Forgotten Reels” is a one time lost German Sci-Fi, Horror flick that was re-discovered in Germany and has not really made its way to America and sadly is really unknown by the masses here and for the most part has been forgotten by the world as well. The film is called “The Island Of The Lost” that was released in 1921 and is a unofficial film based on a classic novel written by H.G. Wells and when Phil of Creature Feature Video brought this film to my attention I knew I had to cover it here at the Rotten Ink Theater as this was a perfect film for “Forgotten Reels” as its one that will be a first time watch for me and this also could be the first time many of you readers even heard of this film! So let’s find our seats and grab a snack and a drink as it’s time for us to talk Silent Cinema.
The Island Of The Lost is a German film released by Terra Film in 1921 and is one part Sci-Fi and Horror and has a dash of Comedy and Romance. The films script was written by Hans Behrendt and Bobby E. Luthge and is very loosely based on the novel “The Island Of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells who had no idea that this film was even made based on his work, and this was a common practice back in the early years of cinema that filmmakers would adapt famous novels into films and not get the permission of the writers who created them. They got Urban Gad to direct who had directed many films before this one with some of his well known ones being “The Abyss (1910)”, “Zapata’s Gang (1914)”, “Cinderella (1916)” and “What A Girl (1920)” to name a few. The film casted Erich Kaiser-Titz as Professor McClelland the films Dr. Moreau and other actors like Alf Blutecher, Ludmilla Hell, Hanni Weisse, Hermann Picha and Nien Tso Ling also made up the cast. The film mostly showed just in Germany and did not make the impact that the adaptation films of F.W. Murnau made the year before and after its release as it was sandwiched between the 1920 film “Der Januskopf” that was based loosely on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and 1922’s Nosferatu that of course was unauthorized based on Dracula. The film also had early effects of human and animal hybrids and was done with makeup and prosthetic effects and I can only imagine how moviegoers reacted to seeing these creatures in 1921. After its run The Island Of The Lost faded away and was misplaced and was forgotten by time. But a print of the film was found in Berlin and it was saved from decay. The film even made its way to America finally as it screened for the first time in 2014 at a Monster Bash Convention and was meet with mixed to positive reviews. The film while still not as known by fans of Silent Horror Cinema has made it mark on those who have watched it. The film can be found on grey market DVD.
The snack I choose to eat while watching this Silent Film for the first time is a classic for me and I picked an Andy Capp snack food and choose the BBQ flavor! Many of you remember my write up for Andy Capp when he went to Camp and I gave the history of the snack named after the comic strip Icon but for this update I will quickly give you a crash course on them. Andy Capp Snacks started in 1971 by Goodmark Foods Inc. and made corn and potato snack food that look like fries and featured the comic strip character Andy Capp as the products mascot and spokesman. In 1998 ConAgra Foods bought Goodmark and they still make this bard of snack food to this day! They had many flavors for their Andy Cap Firs line including over the years Salsa, Cheese, Ranch, Cheddar & Bacon, White Cheddar, Hot Chili Cheese and the most iconic being Hot. And while my favorite flavors are Cheese and Hot my third is BBQ and for some reason that sounded the most tasty to go with this film. So take a look below to see these BBQ Fries in their natural habit of a freshly opened bag.
I am very much looking forward to watching this one as it is a German Horror flick that I have never seen and I love the fact that its American premiere was at a Monster Bash Convention that is my favorite one to attend as I am a big fan of classic monsters as you long time readers know. The print of the movie we are looking at is from Creature Feature Video an amazing company that brings many of these Silent films to home media for fans to collect and own. I will be grading both the film and the BBQ Fries on a classic 1-4 star scale. I also want to say on my film ratings I am basing it on a scale that is for silent films of all budgets and eras. So sit back in your theater seat, grab some a snack and a soda and lets travel to The Island Of The Lost with Creature Feature Video. And yes the stills used in this review update are indeed taken from the CFV print and the DVD that I own.
The Island Of The Lost
Starring: Erich Kaiser-Titz and Alf Blutecher Directed: Urban Gad
Not Rated 1921 61min Creature Feature Video DVD-R Full Frame
Robert Marston reads about a bottle being found with a note inside that has coordination’s and a cry for help from a woman named Jane Crawford. He then heads to visit his fiancé Evelyn Wilkinson and the two walk for a few moments and catch up before Robert is off again, but drops his newspaper and Jane notices that a part has been ripped out. Meanwhile Dr. Ted Fowley a friend of Robert’s is putting up with two paid patients of his Jim and Jess that sit in the waiting room to look like the doctor is busy who are talking about how to get more money and Ted has an idea using ads in the paper about an artificial man.
Evelyn tracks down a newsboy and buys another paper so that she can find what part of Robert’s paper was missing while Robert has arrived at the practice of his friend Ted and even runs into Jim and Jess who are faking injuries. As Robert enters the office he alerts Ted of the note found in the bottle and they both agree that the handwriting looks like Jane who was Robert’s ex-fiancé who went missing while in London. Ted asks Robert if he is still in love with Jane and he says no that Evelyn is his love, but you can tell he is torn. Meanwhile people are lining up outside Ted’s office with the promise of the newspaper ad about an artificial man. Ted tells Robert he needs to go to Jane and tell her the truth of what is going on, but Robert does not want Evelyn to find out about Jane. While Ted along with Jim and Jess deal with the people who have gathered because of the ad while Evelyn shows up and Robert and they chat for a moment but Ted begs Robert to get him away as his ad has backfired and the people are getting rowdy and the two run out the back door and onto a submarine and sail away and set sail for the island that Jane is at. As the do so Evelyn has the article about the found message in the bottle that has the location and watches as her lover sails away. Robert and Ted on the submarine dive and the two friends and the crew chat and set sail for the long journey to the island to get to Jane.
Time passes and they are at the island and as Robert and Ted armed with rifles go ashore the submarine and its crew head to the mouth of a river to wait for the two to get back from this expedition. Robert and Ted explore the land and nothing is around at first besides trees, rivers and planets and then they spot an animal man that is a mix of ape and human and he does not seem friendly. The friends flee and reach another part of the river and find a massive hut and they take a makeshift boat to get to the hut and to get away from the strange things in the woods.
Once they reach the hut via a window they see the shadow of Jane and they rush inside with rifles at the ready and while looking for her the find lab equipment as well as medical books…as this hut is also some ones lab! And while looking around a man in a radioactive suit appears and introduces himself as George McClelland and wonders what they are doing in his hut as this island is were he does his experiments and they are clearly outsiders. Robert and Ted lie and say they came on a yacht and McClelland thinks they are just wondering lost friends and welcomes them and claims that an outbreak has wiped out all the natives of the island and that he is the only living person on it. Ted acts as if he is going to go back the ship to bring a bottle of wine back, but instead looks around and finds a steel door in the hut and behind it is Jane who is happy to see him and to be on the verge of being rescued. But Ted is caught by Fung-Lu who is the assistant to McClelland and when Ted demands the key to the cell Fung-Lu says that McClelland has it and Ted marches into the lab and demands the key!
McClelland agrees and leads Robert and Ted to the cell, but they make a big mistake as they leave the riffles behind and when they walk away Fung-Lu takes the guns away leaving them armless. Once inside the cell Jane is happy to see Robert and Ted but she is still very scared of McClelland who ends up stepping aside and Robert, Ted and Jane make a run for it and leave the hut and get back into the little boat and start heading toward the shore. And inside McClelland and Fung-Lu talk about opium, but they will not get any until these outsiders are dealt with.
As the boat gets to the bank and Jane tells them that she was attacked by three people and when she woke up she found herself on this island and that McClelland is a terrible person and she would always hear the screams of animals as she was locked in her cell. As Jane runs ahead of them Ted tells Robert that he must tell her that he is now engaged to Evelyn, but he cannot bring himself to do so. As the three friends run through the woods Fung-Lu is tossing bombs around the docked submarine spooking the crew and destroying the ship or so he claims when talking to McClelland in order to get some opium. McClelland denies his assistant the drug unless he signs a paper that gives McClelland all credit for the experiments that the pair have done on the island, and Fung-Lu does so just so he can get the drug he needs.
Robert, Jane and Ted arrive to were they left their canoe and find it missing so the follow the river to opening and see that the submarine is also missing and there is only on survivor and it was the ships butler. Jane says she knows a place that the four of them can take shelter in for the night and it’s an old tree house and before they climb up they take inventory of the supplies they have. Once they get Jane inside and safe they send the Butler out to get wood so that they can make a warm fire for the night and as the butler looks around for wood a Native is stalking him, while in the tree house Ted is getting mad at Robert for not coming clean to Jane that he has found another love, but Robert says he will not as he still cares for Jane. Meanwhile the Butler ends up running into the native who is female and they run off to her hut and they fall in love. While back at the lab Fung-Lu is smoking his opium and drifts away into his own mind.
Robert, Jane and Ted later that day make a fire and are sitting around it when Ted makes sure to ask Robert if he has thought about Evelyn and this makes Jane ask who Evelyn is, and this puts Robert on the spot and Ted then tells Jane that Evelyn is Robert’s fiancé in London and while both Jane and Robert look hurt good old Ted looks pleased with himself. The next morning they are now in grounded hunts getting ready for the day and Ted even goes outside and milks a goat for milk and brings it to Jane, and Robert is not pleased that his best friend is flirting with his lady. And when they ask Robert to join them for breakfast he gets pouty and refuses and walks off alone. Meanwhile Ted and Jane end up sharing the goat milk and continue to flirt with one another and finally they even kiss. As Robert is trying to build a raft to get them off this island and forget that his heart is breaking as he still has feelings for Jane who is now falling for Ted after she learns that Robert had moved on once she was kidnapped.
Meanwhile Fung-Lu is feeding one of the animal people that is one of the experiment of McClelland who informs Fung-Lu that they will allow Jane to have her freedom for now but when they need her they will go and get her. Once McClelland and Fung-Lu leave the office the animal man sneaks in and trashes the office in a rage and is caught and threatened to be whipped for his bad behavior and when McClelland asks the animal man who is his creator and God the poor soul points at Fung-Lu and this angers McClelland who corrects him and claims that he is his crater and then whips him one and the animal man crawls away. Then McClelland and Fung-Lu talk about how interesting it is that the animal people are starting to take on more traits of humans like even stealing.
Jane and Ted leave the hut and start looking around the land for food when the spot the a tribe King, but little do they know yet that the King is the butler who left them the night before and when they realize they have a good laugh as the Butler dances around as the female native plays a drum. Robert has finished his makeshift raft and is about to take off when he is caught by Ted who is upset that Robert was about to leave him and Jane on the island. Ted tries to remind him of Evelyn back in London, but Robert says that she is dead to him as Jane should be his lady again. Robert and Ted walk away from each other in anger and Jane then decides that she will talk to Robert and Ted talks a walk down the beach with his bow and a staff he has made. Meanwhile the talk between Robert and Jane does not help as he claims he still loves her and she questions why he found another woman so fast after she was kidnapped.
As Jane makes her way to Ted a boat is sighted in the ocean and they scream for Robert about the approaching ship, the butler hears the news as well and takes off his Tribe King outfit and puts back on his suit to join them as the native woman is not happy he ran off. As Robert is joined by Jane and Ted he alerts them that them being together is ok as he will return to London to be with Evelyn and the three run off to try and get the ships attention, and the butler catches up to them and tries as well. All four are happy as they think they are going to be rescued from this cursed island. They start a big fire and even wave a white shirt on a stick around in order to get attention and alert the ship that help is needed, but sadly the ship does not see them and keeps sailing away further and further. Robert returns to his raft, the butler returns to his native woman and Ted along with Jane return to the hut all now feeling heartbroken and defeated.
Back at the lab of McClelland it is decided that its time for them to get Jane back as they need her for the next big experiment and he sends out his animal man with a blow dart and tells him to bring Jane back to the lab, the beast man heads out to do what he is told. And while Jane is looking for roots the animal man hits her with the dart and as she is about to pass out Ted was alerted that something is wrong from her scream and goes rushing to find her and does so just in time as she passes out into his arms as the beast man looks on in anger as he has failed his mission.
Ted gets Jane to the hut and places her on a bed, she has a bad fever and he knows that he must get medicine from McClelland to save her life and he rushes to tell Robert what is going on. Meanwhile the animal man is in trouble when McClelland is mad that he did not bring Jane back to the lab when he was given orders to do so, he then sends him back out to get her. Ted rushes to the lab and swims across the river to get there as Robert rushes to the hut to check on Jane and picks her up and takes her away. Once at the lab Ted and McClelland talk and he asks for medicine to help with the fever, but before he answers he wants to show Ted what he has been up to on this island.
McClelland brings Ted into a room that is filled with lots of animal people and the mad doctor explains to him that all of these creatures use to be animals and his experiments are turning them all into animal people, and while they hate him they all fear him. Ted is shocked and saddened by what he is seeing as these creatures seem like they are in pain as he looks and sees creatures that were once rams, walruses and birds now these twisted mutations.
McClelland then takes Ted to another room and shows him more of his terrible experiments, and with this Ted figures out that McClelland is really Professor Thompson a man who was kicked out of London for his extreme work with artificial men. Ted then realizes that Thompson needs a heart for his new experiment and has seen and heard enough and attacks the Professor! Thompson mocks Ted for his attack and alerts him that he and Robert have only slowed down his work and not stopped it, and with that Ted runs from the lab and dives into the water to swim ashore and heads to the hut to find Jane gone! While Robert is caring Jane the animal man pushes over the tree that had the tree house in it! Showing that he is super strong and is on the trail of Jane and the places she has been as he must not fail and needs to bring her to the lab.
Ted hears the tree falling and rushes down towards the river and sees Robert who is going to put June on his raft and the two friends start fighting each other as Jane wakes up and looks confused and its Robert who knocks out Ted and notices that the animal man as appeared and kidnapped Jane and is heading back toward the lab. Robert catches up to the beast man and the two start to fight, meanwhile Evelyn has shown up around the island and along with a sailor and a friend of hers get into a rowboat and head toward the island shore.
Once Evelyn reaches the shore of the island her friend and her find Ted injured but being cared for by the butler and the native woman, he tells Evelyn of Robert and Jane and she decides that she is done with Robert but would like to see this woman Jane. The Butler takes them to the hut and informs them of the animal people as well as the evils of McClelland and his experiments. As Evelyn and crew head towards the lab we find that Robert is now a prisoner and that Jane is wanting to know if Ted is dead at the hands of Robert and all the while McClelland and Fung-Lu are figuring out what parts of what animal they want to use for the next animal man. And he then alerts Jane that her heart is needed for this next beast man and he wants Fung-Lu to get it for him. And as Fung-Lu takes Jane to an operating room, the butler has made his way to the lab and finds Robert in a cage, but before the butler can get help he is attacked by the animal man, but the butler stabs the beast man in the heart and wounds him deeply.
As the butler runs off its Evelyn who now goes into the lab and sees the animal people who are all worked up as Thompson’s new animal man is alive and as raised from the slab. The new beast man is crazed and we learn that Fung-Lu has given Thompson the heart of a tiger and not Jane’s and this has made the creation more animal than man. Evelyn finds and frees Jane who in turn finds Robert and sets him free and Evelyn then uses fire to keep the animal men at bay as the three escape, the animal people set their rage on Thompson and as the hut is filled with smoke they attack their creator with murder in their eyes.
The lab is fully on fire as Evelyn, Jane and Robert watch it burn the bank, they are later joined by Ted and the female native all who watch as Thompson, Fung-Lu and the animal people burn to death in the massive fire. And it’s clear that Jane wants to be with Ted as the two embrace and kiss as the film ends with the lab fire.
Review: This unofficial movie adaptation of The Island Of Dr. Moreau is a fun early German Sci-Fi Horror film that seems to have been forgotten by time and that’s a shame as I found myself really enjoying this one lots as it was a cool mix of drama, horror and even a dash of comedy. The performance of Erich Kaiser-Titz who was Thompson aka McClelland is really good and he looks like a madman at times and when he needs to be mean his face twists and his eye widen and you feel his madness. The shooting locations are very simple and very effective as the use of huts, woods and water is very fitting for the plot of this film and the locations the filmmaker choose to use were well selected. The friendship of Robert and Ted is an odd one as while its clear they have been friends for a long time their friendship will be tested when it comes to the ladies as Ted is kind of a drama magnet as he pushes topics that ends up causing issues when in the end it was clear he was doing this in order to try and win the heart of his friends ex-girlfriend, and for his action he even gets punched and knocked out. And while it looks like Robert and Ted are our heroes in the end the real hero is Evelyn who is the one who saves Robert and Jane from being killed and is even the one that sets the fire that kills the films villains, plus is the one who brings a ship that will allow them all to get off the island. Actress Hanni Weisse is stunning as Jane Crawford and is a great early actress who was also in the film “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” from 1914 as well as 1915, and when she is on screen she steels the show. The film does have some flaws and at times the story is a little weak and some of the characters actions are very unmotivated. The butler character that is played by a black actor and some of the humor around him is very dated and is a little cringe in spots. And for me the biggest letdown is that they very much downplay the Horror elements of this tale as McClelland and the Animal People should have taken more of the spotlight and not the love triangle of Robert, Jane and Ted…but with that even said I still really enjoyed this film! The Animal People are great and for the time look creepy even though they are just actors with fur and animal costumes on, they still hold a weird and creepy look to them that I am sure made movie goers in 1921 very scared by their weird appearance. The print of this film by Creature Feature Video is good and while the film it’s self has flaws like dirty frames and missing frames this is a very good print and made the film even more enjoyable. I say if you love German Silent Horror Films get a copy of this film and sit back one evening and have a great and spooky time with it.
Now for the quick look at Andy Capp’s BBQ Fries and I have to say they are a very tasty corn snack that has a very heavy BBQ taste they are a solid snack to munch on if you are looking for something cheaply priced that packs a good flavor. And I will say while they are good they are not as tasty as the Hot or Cheese Fries as they both have more of a flavor that is not as basic as the BBQ. The mix of corn and potato make these BBQ Fries look like French fries and if you are looking for something very cheap to munch on while watching Silent Films these are not bad.
The Island Of The Lost is a really interesting film that due to being “Lost” for so many years I think it really has been forgotten and is really a undiscovered Gem for fans who like early German Silent Horror Films, and I need to really stress that it is by no means a German Expressionist film and lacks those films eerie use of shadows and crooked structures. And while it’s not a good loose adaptation of the classic The Island Of Dr. Moreau story and it is not even the best film inspired by Dr. Moreau, what it is though is a great fun film that I am glad has been found so that it might be able to gain a following among fans of Silent Horror. And make sure to get a copy of this film from Creature Feature Video and see what you think of this film. Well the clean up crew is here in the theater so I think that is our sign to head on out, and as we make our way to the exit doors I want to thank you once more for talking Silent Cinema with me and also that the next one will take us to our big Thanksgiving update and will be about that Warrior Princess Xena! So until next time read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Silent Horror Film or two and as always support your Local Horror Host. See you next time as we have a Turkey Day date with Xena and Gabrielle!