Mystery of the Wax Museum [1933]

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Runtime: 86 minutes

When you've got Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi, how can you go wrong? Shipwreck victim Edward Parker (Richard Arlen) is stranded on an island run by the mysterious Dr. Moreau (Laughton). Moreau is hospitable enough, but the jungle is full of menacing shapes--and what about those ominous references to the House of Pain? Parker gradually learns of Moreau's unholy experiments and worries that he'll never escape. Though it has aged a bit, Island of Lost Souls is surprisingly spine-tingling, particularly the horrifying climax. Light and shadows are used especially well--occasionally, Moreau speaks with his face entirely hidden, except for his glittering eyes. Laughton turns in yet another superbly evil performance and even the somewhat worse-for-wear Lugosi is creepy as the pronouncer of the law. ("Are we not men?" Well, no, not exactly.) This is a nicely chilling classic that may even make you think twice about modern science's experimentation with genetics. Don't miss it. Remade as The Island of Dr. Moreau in 1977 and 1996. --Ali Davis

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