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Criterion To Release ‘Island Of Lost Souls’ And ‘Kuroneko’

I thought this day would never come! Erle C. Kenton’s groundbreaking Island Of Lost Souls is finally making its way to Blu-ray and DVD on October 25, courtesy of the fine folks at Criterion. If it’s anything like the last few genre discs they put out (Hausu, Night of the Hunter and Cronos), the release should be nothing short of reference material.

A twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday, Island of Lost Souls is a cautionary tale of science run amok adapted from H. G. Wells’s novel ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’. In one of his first major movie roles, Charles Laughton is a mad doctor conducting ghastly genetic experiments on a remote island in the South Seas, much to the fear and disgust of the shipwrecked sailor (Richard Arlen) who finds himself trapped there. Erle C. Kenton’s touchstone of movie terror is elegantly shot by Karl Struss, features groundbreaking makeup effects that inspired generations of monster-movie artists, and costars Bela Lugosi in one his most gruesome roles.

Features will include:

– New high-definition digital restoration of the uncut theatrical version (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
– Audio commentary by film historian Gregory Mank, author of ‘Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff’ and ‘Hollywood’s Maddest Doctors’
– New video conversation among filmmaker John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, Videodrome), and genre expert Bob Burns
– New interviews with horror film historian David J. Skal (The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror); filmmaker Richard Stanley (Hardware, original director of the ill-fated 1996 remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau)
– New interviews with Devo founding members Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, whose manifesto is rooted in themes from ‘Island of Lost Souls’
– Theatrical trailer
– PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Christine Smallwood

As if your wallet isn’t crying hard enough already, Criterion will also be putting out Kuroneko a week earlier on October 18. In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn medieval Japan, a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is sent to dispatch the unseen force, he finds that he must struggle with his own personal demons as well. From Kaneto Shindo, director of the terror classic Onibaba, Kuroneko is a spectacularly eerie twilight tale with a shocking feminist angle, evoked through ghostly special effects and exquisite cinematography.

Features will include:

– New high-definition digital restoration (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
– Video interview with director Kaneto Shindo from the Directors Guild of Japan
– New video interview with critic Tadao Sato
– Theatrical trailer
– New and improved English subtitle translation
– PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Maitland McDonagh and an excerpt from film scholar Joan Mellen’s 1972 interview with Shindo



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