February 23, 2021

Amazing Animal People of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror #1: Lota from the Island of Lost Souls

For millennia, human beings have been alternately in awe of and frightened by wild animals. Without our clever brains, we frail, awkward, slow, thin-skinned humans would have been slashed, skewered, filleted, gnoshed on and generally driven to extinction by animal competitors thousands of years ago.

Even though humanity has “won” the competition many times over (causing the extinction of untold species in the process), our myths and folklore are full of awe and wonder at the animal kingdom. From the animal-headed gods of ancient Egypt, to Native American animal shapeshifters, to werewolves and other were-beasts of European folklore, we have long been fascinated with the idea of taking on animal attributes and becoming something more than mere human.

Masked villagers, The Wicker Man (1973)
"A fish, a hare and a goat walk into a bar..."

Of course, modern movie myth-makers have been all-too happy to feed this fascination. From the early days of the silents to the present day, movies have featured all kinds of human-animal hybrids: werewolves, catwomen, apemen, birdmen, minotaurs, bat people and even alligator people.

It’s to these terrifying anthropomorphic animals (or if you prefer, animalistic anthropoids), that I dedicate this third set of virtual monster trading cards, The Amazing Animal People of Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror.

Every movie decade from the 1930s to the 1970s has at least one representative captured from the celluloid jungle. Get in touch with your inner animal and “collect” them all!

Amazing Animal People trading card #1: Lota from Island of Lost Souls, 1932

Derived from a panther, the exotically beautiful Lota (Kathleen Burke) is Doctor Moreau’s (Charles Laughton) greatest, most “human” creation. When shipwrecked sailor Edward Parker (Richard Arlen) washes up on Moreau’s Island of Lost Souls, the mad doctor seizes the opportunity for the ultimate experiment -- to see if Lota can fall in love.

Funanimal Fact: Prior to its release, Island of Lost Souls was kicked around by industry and government censors. 14 states in the U.S. rejected it for exhibition based on Moreau’s likening himself to God, and for its references to evolution as a scientific fact. In the U.K. it was rejected three separate times (the last time in 1957), mostly for its depictions of cruelty to animals.

Still from Island of Lost Souls, 1932
"Hi, I'm Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl."

Animal Crack-up (click on the text to see the punchline):

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