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This idiosyncratic twist on Beauty and the Beast was inspired by a real-life 19th-century sailor who enslaved a group of castaways on an island in the Galapagos. Herman Melville turned the story into a sketch in his book The Encantadas, which in turn inspired Alberto Vázquez Figueroa's novel La Iguana. Director Monte Hellman brought in his visions of Phantom of the Opera, and the elements coalesce together in a harshly beautiful story of a horribly scarred sailor who declares war on mankind for all the evils men have perpetrated on him out of fear and intolerance. Everett McGill plays the angry, defiant Oberlus as a ruthless philosopher-dictator, one moment thoughtful and respectful, the next fierce and vengeful. Maru Valdivielso stars as Carmen, a free spirit in the constrictive confines of Spanish society, "a monster" herself for her social transgressions, who is captured by Oberlus and made his sexual slave. It's a hard film to define, neither adventure nor romance, and the subdued drama, stark beauty, and still mood give it a dreamy atmosphere. While not wholly satisfying, Hellman's strange, dark portrait of sex and power in a primal island paradise is certainly fascinating. Michael Madsen costars as Oberlus's first slave who becomes a faithful lieutenant, and Italian star Fabio Testi has a small but memorable role as the vicious nemesis of Oberlus.

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newVHS Iguana VHS (1988/Everett McGill) $7.99