As a novice film reviewer of absolutely no repute whatsoever, I had never heard of Richard Stanley prior to the events surrounding the creation of 1996's 'The Island of Doctor Moreau'. When first viewing him here, he struck me as someone who fancied himself a little arty, weird and interesting. Indeed, other crewmembers interviewed for this documentary regularly describe him as being 'unusual'. My feelings toward Stanley went from that to feeling desperately sorry for him: a director, for whom a series of unimaginable catastrophes lost him his reason. 100 minutes later as the end credits rolled, I found myself liking him a lot, and feeling pleased that the disastrous happenings behind the scenes of the 1996 film didn't seem to have irretrievably broken his spirit.
In fact, it is with some relief that none of the cast or crew interviewed seemed to remain undamaged, and have not lost their sense of humour, after their experiences recounted in this compellingly documented diary of miss-haps.
'The Island of Doctor Moreau' is one of HG Wells' greatest stories, building on horror and ego and great tragedy when one person tries to become God. Not a million miles away from Frankenstein in that regard - and not a million miles away from the incredible egos of two of the film's main stars, that had long since transcended any effort to contain them.
For all those interviewed, I was surprised that David Thewlis, one of the main players, was mentioned so briefly - just once, as I recall, with a cursory mention of him being brought in to replace another actor who had grown completely and understandably disenchanted with the shambolic nature of the filming.The anecdotes range from hugely unfortunate to laugh-out-loud hilarious, as recalled by Marco Hofschneider, Fairuza Balk and Stanley himself, amongst many others, all hugely personable and full of incredible remembrances. It is entirely possible that, with Stanley's inclusion, and the lack of Kilmer, Brando or replacement director John Frankenheimer (the latter two having passed away), that memories are presented in Stanley's favour - we'll probably never know - but the results form the basis of one of the most fascinating and bizarre behind-the-scenes documentaries I have ever seen. It doesn't matter if you have never seen the 1996 film, I recommend this unreservedly. My score is 9 out of 10.