Isle of the Dead - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Isle of the Dead Reviews

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½ September 12, 2011
It's great at times, often suggesting a non-narrative film of pure shadow and darkness. However, the basic conceit: a question of faith and superstition vs science comes off as heavy-handed most of time.
½ March 8, 2011
Extremely boring film that squanders a potentially interesting premise. Karloff is much stiffer then in Body Snatcher, which is a shame. The film finally picks up in the final ten minute stretch, but by then my brain had checked out.
Super Reviewer
½ February 28, 2011
Confused. Some nice plot kernels and plenty of great Lewton atmospherics but ... no. Too much going on here.
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2011
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.
February 5, 2011
A very good, movie, the ending was a bit sudden, though.
November 3, 2010
Karloff portrays a world-weary general who quarantines a small island full of people to keep them from a plague, but as the days wear on Old-World superstitions begin to weigh on those assembled until they suspect one of their number may be a vampire-like creature.

Worth a look, a nice mood piece.
½ October 31, 2010
Great mood and feel to this movie, but not a very interesting plot. The only scary moments are in the last 10 minutes.
October 30, 2010
Im finding as I watch more & more Karloff either they're really good or not too smoking hot. Isle of the Dead falls into that latter. Karloff is always good, a highlight & the main reason to tune in but unfortunately it's a little on the boring side. I know this was made in the 40s & you should be a little forgiving but when a movie is like 70s minutes & feels close to 2 hours something is wrong. Not one of RKO's shining moments & basically for Karloff completest. Im watching his stuff whenever it's on TMC but you should check out something like Corridors of Blood instead.
October 30, 2010
He only guards the dead. I have to worry about the living.

A general on a Greek island discovers a strange plaque that infects the dead and can spread to the living. He quarantines the island and will not let anyone leave. As more individuals become infected with the disease, more pressure is placed on the general to let the uninfected leave the island. Will the general break or will the infection kill them all?

"Find younger ears to listen to your nonsense."

Mark Robson, director of Earthquake, Avalanche Express, Valley of the Dolls, The Harder They Fall, Bedlam, Land of the Brave, and The Ghost Ship, delivers Isle of the Dead. The storyline for this picture is solid but the pace of the film is a bit slow and methodical. The settings, the script, and the acting in this film are remarkable. The cast delivers solid performances and includes Boris Karloff in the lead role.

"Those who live by the law can be both wrong and cruel."

Isle of the Dead is the first of several Boris Karloff pictures playing on a Turner Classic Movie Marathon this Halloween season. We always DVR several Karloff pictures every Halloween. This is not one of Karloff's better movies; however, it if definitely worth watching. This is more of a drama than horror movie but Karloff does delivers a brilliant performance. This is worth one viewing.

"What must be done will be done."

Grade: C+
October 27, 2010
Isle is an exercise in suspenseful, psychological horror. Val Lewton was handed a slate of poverty row subjects to tackle back in the 40's and effectively spun gold out of hay. Isle is generally considered one of Val's poorer stepchildren beside the likes of I Walked With A Zombie, Bedlam and The Body Snatcher. But I feel it succeeds in a way those others don't, in being a taut, perfectly paced thriller which causes the viewer to question whether the events are, or aren't supernatural in cause.

And Karloff does a fantastic turn as Gen. Pherides, a military man possessed of a very regimented sense of order who places the chain of command heirarchy above all else in life. Far different, you'll find, from a good many of his other characters. Poverty row, as if!
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2010
Vampires, plague, zombies, murder? What is this movie about? And why is it so boring? Karloff is good as usual, but the story isn't up to par.
October 14, 2010
October 9, 2010
The plague, paranoia and Boris Karloff, plus a great story.
September 19, 2010
This film is extremely effective at delivering a very suspenseful horror film. The low budget doesn't really hinder the film as it is the interaction between the characters that makes the film work. Man versus man in a state of paranoia, religion vs science vs common sense as a plague breaks out on an island. What is the cause? Is it evil incarnate? Will the gods/God help them?
The focus on tension in the film allows for a few good moments of geniune fear and even a jump scare to boot.
While the acting may seem a bit over the top by todays standard, it is precisely what the doctor ordered in 1945. Karloff does a fantastic job and while he's more known for his Universal monsters, I feel they shadow in comparison to his performance in Isle of the Dead.
A must watch for fans of the golden oldies of horror.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2010
Started off good then started falling apart in the middle & ended with a terrible ending
Super Reviewer
June 16, 2010
Isle of the Dead is another great movie in the Val Lewton stable of low budget but obscenely effective suspense/horror movies. It beautifully straddles paranoia, superstition and science in that trademarked Lewton wonderful world of shadows. Boris Karloff is great as a mistrusting general stuck on a Greek island to avoid a plague outbreak amonst his soldiers. The introduction of others on the island plays out almost like an Agatha Christie mystery without the conventions. The cast is great and the last 10 minutes are some of the creepiest I've seen in recent memory. Katherine Emery running around the darkness was magnificently horrifying.
June 13, 2010
a very atmospheric film. the focus of the story seems to be the tension between science and superstition in a world that was modernizing very quickly - story in set in 1916. good performances but overall i found the tension that was supposed to be in the story to be uneven.
½ May 26, 2010
Suspenseful horror movie.
May 24, 2010
Creepy and melancholy, but Lewton's collaborations with Karloff aren't my favorites.
½ March 24, 2010
The finale is quite eerie and suspenseful but it's poorly paced and bland for the most part.
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