Isle of the Dead - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Isle of the Dead Reviews

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February 12, 2017
This is another Val Lewton production and it is creepy and atmospheric, though not outright scary. Boris Karloff stars as a Greek General in 1912 who is policing a group of people he's quarantined to an island after an outbreak of a plague. There are plenty of creep moments and it is fairly entertaining, but not up to par of some of the other Lewton films. Still, as a genre fan I found it worth watching.
½ December 28, 2016
A super intriguing and well acted cult classic, Val Lewton brings the goods to an unexpected level. This is a great film, even though it doesn't look like it.
September 12, 2016
Very dated. I'm sure it was a fine movie for the era, but watching it now, it just seems corny.
½ April 24, 2016
Pretty unusual plot, and eerie too boot.
½ April 22, 2016
Karloff is great in this. Very strange, creepy movie, with a really scary shot in it that's feels about 50 years ahead of its time.
½ December 28, 2015
Isle of the Dead is a decent film. It is about several people who are trapped by quarantine for the plague in 1912 on a Greek island. Boris Karloff and Ellen Drew give good performances. The script is a little slow in places. Mark Robson did an alright job directing this movie. I liked this motion picture because of the drama and mystery.
December 22, 2014
One of Val Lewton's weakest works; it certainly pales in comparision to some of his other works: Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Body Snatcher and Ghost Ship. There are, as usual for Lewton, some intriguing ideas at the core of this film, but it's weighed down by an overly wordy script and often shoddy direction, particularly in the brisk, confused pacing and jumpy editing that skips abruptly from scene to scene with a complete lack of nuance. The theme of science versus superstition - a Lewton trademark - is presented only in the most simplistic of terms without any nuance.

Boris Karloff provides a fine performance as the tortured general. Caught between the worlds of logic and superstition, in the end he is driven insane a victim of the island's gloomy death-obsession as anyone else. With the exception of Ellen Drew's conflicted young innocent and Helen Thimig's fiery-eyed old housekeeper, the rest of the cast is abysmal and the dialogue is flat and wooden.

The one thing this film gets right is the claustrophobic atmosphere which becomes more creepy until the moment of the film's memorable scene: the premature burial. As the camera pulls away from the wooden coffin with no sound other than that of dripping water, the suspense becomes almost unbearable. It is one of the most frightening moments in any Lewton film.
October 30, 2014
Karloff pushes into another level: the frosty cruelty he carries with him every time he arrives onscreen is far and away the best thing Isle of the Dead has to offer, jolting the occasionally anemic mood of hopelessness that's meant to be around everything into high gear, and proving that even at their flimsiest, there's still no such thing as a worthless Val Lewton horror picture.
August 12, 2014
Spooky, atmospheric Karloff-vehicle that follows a group of people quarantined to an island because of plague . . . or is it Vorvaloka (a mythical Greek creature similar to a vampire)?! Heavy on shadows and other creative ways to stretch a budget (thanks to producer Val Lewton's influence) this Isle acts as a strange dream, with just enough mysticism; religion and myth to keep things interesting.
½ June 23, 2014
When I say that this film was produced by Val Lewton, for horror aficionados that means a lot. As a producer, he was the master of eerie chills created only by shadows (necessitated by low budgets but so much more effective than the big budget films that show it all). Isle of the Dead doesn't really rank up there with I Walked with a Zombie, Cat People, The Leopard Man, or The Seventh Victim (the last also directed by Mark Robson) but it does move from a grim look at people quarantined on a small island by septicemic plague (in 1912) to a very spooky and even scary attack by a vorvolaka, an evil spirit that can occupy a person and lead them to suck the very life out of others (at night, of course). In this case, the vorvolaka may not even exist (even viewers will never know) but Greek General Boris Karloff is convinced otherwise. At only 71 minutes, you can't go wrong.
½ October 24, 2013
Karloff without makeup. Good cinematography & editing.
May 6, 2013
Not my favourite Lewton. okay.
January 24, 2013
All atmosphere--but what atmosphere.
½ January 22, 2013
Good Lord is this movie slow and uneventful. A decent idea that's not very well handled or executed. Decent last ten minutes however.
½ April 6, 2012
Great use of shadow and light in this Val Lewton classic about a group of people confined to an island because of an outbreak of the plague. What starts out as a biological horror quickly turns psychological as paranoia and superstitions take hold.
March 31, 2012
This one came as a complete surprise to me. Here I was expecting a schlock horror film and what do I get? A very suspenseful and thought-provoking thriller. Fantastic I say! Like most thrillers, it takes it a bit to get going, but if you perservere with a bit of patience, you'll discover your heart racing while the suspense is wound up slowly over the course of the film. You can cut the tension with a knife when the creeps start creeping in, and surprisingly, none of them from Karloff himself really. I just can't get over how effective this film was. You're bound to find this in a cheap bin at a local K-Mart or Big Lots! (which is where I found it), but it's definitely worth more than its purchase price. Pick this one up and give it a chance if you spot it.
½ January 17, 2012
More odd than eerie.
November 11, 2011
Thoroughly enjoyed this one. May be considered too slow moving for some but I thought the amazing atmosphere surrounding it more than made up for that. Karloff and the rest of the cast are quite good. A real nice little thriller.
November 2, 2011
I really liked this movie most of all out the Val Lewton horror movies. I guess a little star power from Boris Karloff is what was needed to make the movie more gripping. This is definitely Val Lewton's bleakest movie, which is probably why I like it best. Tackling the topic of the old superstition vs. the modern age was very nicely done.
September 15, 2011
Not a scary as Scorsese claims
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