22 November 2014

Isle of the Dead (1945)
72 min.
Directed by Mark Robson.
With Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew, Marc Cramer, Katherine Emery, Alan Napier, Jason Robards Sr., Helene Thimig.
Excellent Val Lewton horror.

During the war of 1912, Greek general Nikolas Pherides (Karloff) pays an overdue visit to the island tomb of his beloved wife.

But once there, he discovers all the graves have been raided and a strange superstition prevalent among the locals.

Seems they believe in the presence around them of vorvolakas: wolfen-spirits who assume human shape during the day, but at night become vampiric demons and drain the healthy of blood and life.

Soon, Pherides finds the natives are dying one by one...but are old world vorvolakas responsible or could there simply be a deadly plague running afoul on the island?

Another thoughtful exercise on the duality of science & the supernatural, this classy terror from producer Lewton is nicely helmed by director Robson (1943's excellent Seventh Victim) and well acted by Drew and Karloff.

Long on ambiguities and short on easy answers, it's just the way we like 'em.

Best scene: poor Mrs. St. Aubyn awakens to discover she's been mistakenly buried alive...scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch. Scratch.

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