Isle of the Dead is newly available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive.
Produced by the great classic horror master Val Lewton, Isle of the Dead is one of three collaborations that paired the famed producer with actor Boris Karloff.
Karloff stars as General Pherides, a veteran Greek officer serving in the Balkan Wars. One night, accompanied by American journalist Oliver Davis, he sojourns to a nearby island to visit the grave of his wife, only to find the site has been disturbed. Distraught, he seeks out the few people who populate the island (a single household and their guests), inadvertently trapping them both — there’s a plague about, and they must stay to quarantine themselves.
Pherides holds himself as a modern man of modern sensibilities, but as the bodies start piling, his thoughts become consumed with the suspicion that the plague is not a sickness, but the work of one of the women on the island: secretly a vorvolaka, a vampire-like creature. But the General’s superstition and increasing mania may ultimately prove a bigger threat than the plague or the vorvolaka.
The film is moody and full of intrigue, and it has some pretty unsettling moments. The black and white cinematography offers some striking imagery, and the Greek setting and vorvolaka lore offers a unique type of horror tale not seen elsewhere. At a brisk 72 minutes, it’s a well-paced and enjoyable tale of paranoia and peril.
Warner Archive’s Blu-ray edition of Isle of the Dead features classic poster artwork on the cover and disc and is packaged in a standard Viva Elite Blu-ray case.
Special Features and Extras
Commentary by Dr. Steve Haberman
Original Theatrical Trailer (Spanish Subtitled) (1:29)
Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.