Isle of the Dead will soon be released on Blu-ray as part of the Warner Archive series. The new 1080p high definition master is derived from a 4K scan of the original nitrate camera negative and will be released on the 30th. Published in March 2021. Features include :
Commentary by screenwriter and film historian Steve Haberman
Original trailer with Spanish subtitles.
Here’s our previous review of this horror classic:
Isle of the Dead is a 1945 American horror film and one of the horror films produced by Val Lewton for RKO Radio Pictures. The screenplay was inspired by Arnold Boecklin’s The Island of the Dead, which appears after the credits, although the film was originally called Camille during production.
In Lewton’s other film, I Walked with a Zombie, a painting is hung in the movie’s main auditorium…. The screenplay was written by Ardel Wray, a frequent collaborator of Lewton, directed by Mark Robeson, the fourth of five films he directed for Lewton, and with Boris Karloff, the first of three films he directed with Lewton.
On a deserted Greek island, a scattered group of people live in fear. The plague came to the island and made them virtual prisoners. There is also talk of Vorvolaks, vampire-like creatures that prey on the living.
Among the prisoners is General Nicholas Ferrides (Karloff), known as the watchdog, who is stunned when he visits his wife’s mausoleum and finds her tomb empty. While some people in quarantine die of the plague, paranoia creates a tense, anxious atmosphere….
Shooting began in July 1944 and lasted about two weeks, until production was halted when Karloff had to return to work. Construction was completed in December 1944. Meanwhile, after Karloff had recovered from surgery but before the cast of Isle of the Dead had been reconstituted, he and Lewton were recording The Body Snatcher… The film was carefully produced and the central female character of the original script (Catherine) was completely removed from the story.
Buy Val Lewton’s horror collection on DVD on Amazon.com
Karloff delivers a good performance, despite the dubious role assignment in the form of a curvaceous, white-haired, sadistic Greek officer. Like most of Lewton’s films, Isle of the Dead is steeped in literary symbolism. But without the organic and poetic filter of Tounerur, Robson’s treatment of the material is noticeably drier. 366 Strange Films
…It’s in the final third that the film really holds the promise of its development, when Maria’s catalepsy and the terror of being buried alive collide with Feride’s belief that she’s been infected by Thea, resulting in spectacular shock noises and the greatest fear I’ve experienced in this film all year. It was the treatment of these scenes that led Martin Scorsese to choose Isle of the Dead as one of the eleven scariest horror films he ever saw. The blue underdog
I didn’t know whether to fear the boogeymen or shock humanity. I didn’t know if the film was creating a surreal fantasy world or if it was firmly rooted in reality. The Island of the Dead, in its current form, is an ill-formulated slogan that is an attack on a garden of tiny seeds that, if nurtured, could bloom in horror. DVD Verdict
Buy Fear of the Dark: Val Lewton’s book on career development at Amazon.com.
Karloff shines in a versatile role, a subject he’s dealt with many times before, and while the combination of gothicism and realism doesn’t always work as well as it should, there’s a lot to admire here, and the film is at its best when it explores how war can drive people mad, rather than playing with poetic fantasy. Duplication
Painting by Arnold Böcklin The island of the dead
The film is pretty chill until the last shot, where the plot around a woman buried alive begins in verse. Dead Island then looks like a prototype of an 80s movie. Until then, the film was mostly about the mistrust that develops between a group of strangers when they face a deadly threat in an isolated place […] Karloff is great here. Vacuum for video
Buy Island of the Dead + Bedlam on Amazon.com
Buy Isle of the Dead on DVD in the UK on Amazon.co.uk
Buy A Hidden Horror Book on Amazon.co.uk |Amazon.co.uk
The actors and characters:
Boris Karloff… General Nicholas Ferides
Ellen Drew… Thea
Mark Kramer … Oliver Davis
Catherine Emery … Mrs. Mary St. Aubyn
Helen Timig … Ms. Kira
Alan Napier … St. John’s Aubin
Jason Robards Sr. … Albrecht (as Jason Robards)
Ernst German … Dr. Drossos (as Ernest Dorian)
Sherry Hall … Colonel Kobestes (not accredited)
Eric Hanson … Officer (not accredited)
Rose Hobart … Mrs Mary St Aubyn (long term) (not accredited)
Skelton Naggs … Andrew Robbins (not accredited)
Technical details :
black and white ratio
aspect ratio : 1.37 : 1
Audio : Mono (RCA sound system)
That’s what it looks like:
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I Walked with Zombies – USA, 1943 – Review and Ratings.
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