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Isle Of The Dead Blu-ray Review

“Isle Of The Dead” holds up well. 

Set in Greece during the Balkan Wars, the story revolves around a cold, harsh General (Pherides) and an American reporter (Oliver) who venture to a small Greek island where the General is wanting to pay respects to his deceased wife. Upon arrival, the General finds that all of the coffins are empty and that there are people currently staying on the island including an archaeologist (Dr. Aubrecht) and his superstitious housekeeper (Madame Kyra), a British couple (Mr. and Mrs. Aubyn), a Greek woman (Thea) and a British man named Mr. Robbins. When Robbins ends up dead, it soon becomes apparent that a plague is loose on the island which forces everyone to quarantine. As the plague spreads and causes some to die or go mad, Pherides and Kyra start to believe that Thea is a vorvolaka (a vampire/undead creature) which creates paranoia among the two. 

One might think director Mark Robson’s “Isle Of The Dead” is a zombie film based off the title, but that’s not the case. Instead it’s an atmospheric Val Lewton produced RKO horror film about a great deal of subjects. 

While watching 1945’s ‘Isle’ during a pandemic, the movie takes on a new light as it primarily deals with a plague and quarantining. In that regard the movie is very close to home, claustrophobic and bleak as the group tries to prevent the plague from spreading. Through this plot, writer Ardel Wray seamlessly explores numerous ideas such as science, religion, fears, paranoia and legends and myths (the vorvolaka). It was fascinating to see how Wray ties everything together especially in the end when it comes to the character of Mrs. Aubyn (no spoilers here). This is one of those horror stories that does a good job of blurring the lines between reality and fiction for the characters even though we the audience know what is really happening.

Acting wise, Boris Karloff is the MVP here as General Pherides. From the get go it’s clear this character is a complex authority figure. He follows the rules and law to a dangerous degree and yet we understand why he does it. He’s not a villain per se, but he creates conflict with his ideologies. 

Pick up “Isle Of The Dead” at https://www.wbshop.com/collections/warner-archive

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? This is honestly one of the best prints I’ve seen recently. Stunning clarity.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? A nice crisp track.

Extras include a theatrical trailer (with Spanish subs) and an informative scripted commentary by film historian Dr. Steve Haberman.

March 15, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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