Based on a short story, The Most Dangerous Game (1932) is a pre Hayes Code (or the “No Fun Code” as it ultimately became, stripping Hollywood films of any whiff of sex or immorality for almost 40 years) gem that features the same set and some of the same cast and production crew as King Kong which was made the following year. Clocking in at a brisk 62 minutes it has pretty much everything you’d want in a pulp adventure: shipwrecks, sharks, a mysterious tropical island, a strapping hero, a distressed damsel, and best of all – an evil aristocratic-castle-owning -tuxedo (with tails) wearing- goateed Russian villain General Zaroff (who naturally has a scar running down the side of his forehead, owns a grand piano and has a brutish mute henchman named Ivan). General Zaroff is a professional hunter who lures unsuspecting travelers to his shore (it’s easy when you own an island called Ship Trap Island) ultimately releasing his captives into the jungle where he and his savage dogs hunt them down for sport. He’s a man of big appetites or as he puts it “Hunt first the enemy, then the woman. It is the natural instinct. The blood is quickened by the kill. One passion builds upon another. Kill, then love! When you have known that, you have known ecstasy.” The damsel (Canadian born Fay Wray) sees things differently as she and the hero Joel McCrea (who also happens to be a professional hunter) run through the swampy jungle – crossing the same chasm spanning felled tree that was used to great effect in King Kong – attempting to evade capture and death at the hands of General Zaroff.
The last film on this list also features a shipwreck on a tropical island – The Island of Lost Souls (1932) and like the others here, was based on a work of fiction – H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. This is one odd ball movie that really sticks with the audience after viewing. Charles Laughton plays Dr. Moreau who conducts gruesome experiments on the island’s animals, attempting to make them more human while insisting on strict obedience from his hairy hybrid charges (Bela Lugosi plays the lead manimal The Sayer of the Laws) . The shipwrecked hero causes quite a stir and upsets the balance of power on the island –there is also some chemistry between him and Lota the Panther Woman who as the name suggests is part woman, part panther. If you’re a fan of the band Devo (and who isn’t?) the line “Are We Not Men?” will ring a bell as it was one of their album titles as well as refrain of the island inhabitants in their bid to be more human. The movie was banned in England for decades and no doubt also banned from H.G. Wells’ life as word has it he hated this adaptation. According to the internet,we owe the saying “The natives are restless” to this film which had Dr. Moreau say “Yes, they are restless” in response to a question about the locals natives.