Apr 21, 2019

Dr. Moreau's House of Pain (2004)

Charles Band's take on The Island of Dr. Moreau.  You'll meat a bevy of "manimals" - a charming and diminutive pig-man, a monstrous mountain-lion/hyena man, and a scorching hot cat-woman.  Let's check it out...

Its' the 1920s; Eric Carson (John Patrick Jordan) is a boxer.  He's traveling with two friends, Judith (Jessica Lancaster) and Mary Anne (Debra Mayer) in search of his missing brother.

The last place the brother was seen was this strip club. The bartender says the brother was last seen with her - Alliana (Lorielle New).

 The trio follow the stripper to an abandoned sanitarium.  

They are captured by freaks and thrown in a cell.   

The pig-faced freak, Gallagher (Peter Donald Badalamenti II), can talk.  (Note that this is easily my favorite character in the movie.  He's funny at times, and also pathetic.  A unique character to be sure.)

Mary Anne is taken to Moreau's lab where the brother is dead on the operating table.  She's subsequently killed by a freak to provide organs for the experiments.

 Eric is taken from the cell and brought to the bedroom of Alliana, the "cat woman".

 Sex soon follows, with Alliana an absolute animal in bed.

 Alliana then brings Eric to her master.

 Dr. Moreau (Jacob Witkin) explains the nature of his experiments to Eric.  He's crossing beasts with humans, calling them "manimals".

Dr. Moreau introduces Peewee (B.J. Smith), a cross between a human, mountain lion and hyena.  [My favorite animal-human hybrid has to be the gorilla-man from Night of the Bloody Apes (1968).]

 Spectacular gratuitous nudity alert:  Gallagher brings Alliana her cat food. 

Actress Lorielle New began her acting career as Michelle Pfeiffer's stand-in.  She had a few spots on mainstream TV (Dante's Cove and The Practice), but mostly has been in independent and B-movies.

When Alliana stands up to hiss at Gallagher, we get a long, well lit full frontal view.  None of the other actresses in this film provide nudity, but Lorielle New more than makes up for it.

Gallagher brings Judith to an isolated room and tells her he'll help her escape if she'll have sex with him (!)

 Sadly, we don't get to see the sex scene (that would have been quite memorable).  Who is this freak Gallagher's talking to?  That's Gorgana (Laura Peterson)...

 Gorgana is the daughter of one of Moreau's assistants, Pak (Ling Aum), who is no longer down with these experiments - especially considering what's become of his girl.  He vows revenge against Moreau.

 With the freaks and Pak uprising against him, Moreau plans an escape - along with Eric and Judith.

As they make their escape we get an a gratuitous upskirt from Judith descending the stairs. This must have been a thing for Charles Band, as he did the exact same cheap shot in Doctor Mordrid (1992).

It's freak vs. freak as Alliana and Pak take on Peewee and Gallagher. 

They finally break free of the sanitarium, but Pak kills Moreau, then is himself killed. 

Judith shoots the cat lady. They're finally free (except for one final twist at the end).

I'm amazed at how well this film was shot; how beautiful it looks.  Charles Band outdid himself, using the palette of a Famous Monsters of Filmland cover, this picture is just gorgeous to look at - despite the grotesque freaks.  Aside from an overlong exposition by Moreau in the middle, endlessly describing his experiments, this film flowed along at a brisk pace, holding onto the energy from start to finish.

Gallagher was dynamite, and Lorielle New as Alliana was smoking hot, providing epic levels of nudity.  Even Eric and Judith held their own.  Not much to complain about.. but for some reason, the whole enterprise was rather "meh".  Perhaps it's the tired, well-worn story.  Maybe it needed to be a bit more over-the-top. Whatever the case, despite excellent direction and cast, it still ends up being fairly forgettable.

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