Isle of the Dead (1945)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Horror, Mystery  |  1 September 1945 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.6/10 from 2,743 users  
Reviews: 64 user | 39 critic

On a Greek island during the 1912 war, several people are trapped by quarantine for the plague. If that isn't enough worry, one of the people, a superstitious old peasant woman, suspects ... See full summary »



0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

2 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Bedlam (1946)
Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries... See full summary »

Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, Billy House
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A seemingly tame leopard used for a publicity stunt escapes and kills a young girl, spreading panic throughout a sleepy new Mexico town.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Dennis O'Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Tom Merriam signs on the ship Altair as third officer under Captain Stone. At first things look good, Stone sees Merriam as a younger version of himself and Merriam sees Stone as the first ... See full summary »

Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Richard Dix, Russell Wade, Edith Barrett
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A woman in search of her missing sister uncovers a Satanic cult in New York's Greenwich Village, and finds that they may have something to do with her sibling's random disappearance.

Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Kim Hunter, Tom Conway, Jean Brooks
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A young Canadian nurse (Betsy) comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager (Paul Holland). Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis ... See full summary »

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James Ellison
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

This mostly unrelated sequel to Cat People (1942) has Amy, the young daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed. Amy is a very imaginative child who has trouble differentiating fantasy from reality,... See full summary »

Directors: Gunther von Fritsch, Robert Wise
Stars: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph
Certificate: Passed Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

When a nobleman is murdered, a professor of the occult blames vampires; but not all is what it seems.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi
Cat People (1942)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Kent Smith
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Dr. John Holden ventures to London to attend a paranormal psychology symposium with the intention to expose devil cult leader, Julian Karswell. Holden is a skeptic and does not believe in ... See full summary »

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis
Dead of Night (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An architect senses impending doom as his half-remembered recurring dream turns into reality. The guests at the country house encourage him to stay as they take turns telling supernatural tales.

Directors: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Mervyn Johns, Michael Redgrave, Roland Culver
Certificate: Passed Sci-Fi | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An escaped Devil's Island convict uses miniaturized humans to wreak vengeance on those that framed him.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan, Frank Lawton


Complete credited cast:
Oliver Davis
Katherine Emery ...
Mrs. Mary St. Aubyn
Helene Thimig ...
Madame Kyra
St. Aubyn
Jason Robards Sr. ...
Albrecht (as Jason Robards)
Ernst Deutsch ...
Dr. Drossos (as Ernst Dorian)


On a Greek island during the 1912 war, several people are trapped by quarantine for the plague. If that isn't enough worry, one of the people, a superstitious old peasant woman, suspects one young girl of being a vampiric kind of demon called a vorvolaka. Written by Ken Yousten <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A grave's dank darkness smothers the screams of a girl still alive! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 September 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Ilha dos Mortos  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The statue of the three-headed dog is of Cerberus who guards the gates of Hades to prevent anybody escaping back across the River Styx. See more »


Albrecht refers to Hermes as the god of medicine. In Greek mythology, Asclepius was the god of medicine. In terms of medical support, Hermes' assistance was sought by runners or any athletes with injuries. See more »


Thea: Laws can be wrong, and laws can be cruel, and the people who live only by the law are both wrong and cruel.
See more »


Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Blood-Drinking Beings (1996) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

My favourite Val Lewton film
22 March 2006 | by (Halifax, Nova Scotia) – See all my reviews

When searching and looking up movies on the IMDb I'll often come across movies and think to myself that 'this one should be a little bit higher,' or 'that one should be a little bit lower' -- generally speaking I'm pretty comfortable with the ratings that I see. Every now and then though I find a rating that just absolutely mystifies me. Did the people who voted watch the same movie that I did? The number is an extreme from where I think the film actually belongs. For me, Val Lewton's 'Isle of the Dead' is one of those films. It currently has a rating of 6.4 and when I saw that I was stunned to say the very least.

I first saw this movie on late night BBC (I was living in England at the time) a couple of years ago. It has stayed with me ever since. I love old movies and horror movies are one of the kinds of film that I actively seek out and watch. 'Isle of the Dead' had a lot of competition if it wanted to have any lasting impact with me. It left a great impression and is the reason that years later I've sought out the rest of Val Lewton's work. 'Isle of the Dead' remains my favourite and I truly hope that people will give it another look.

Let me start with the setting. When I originally watched it I thought it was so fresh and original to set a horror film during the Balkan's war in 1912. I can't think of any other films that have done that before or since. You get a very morbid opening scene that reveals a great deal about Karloff's character. He doesn't instruct a sub-ordinate to commit suicide, but he publicly humiliates them and pushes a revolver towards them after making it quite clear that their military career is over. He has an extreme sense of duty, justice and obligation. Fail, in his eyes, and you'll pay a deep price. He's also very protective in his nature -- especially of the men who he commands. He is modern in his approach. Reason and logic are his weapons but superstition and a sense of obligation are his foundation. This is the man who will be trapped and quarantined on an island with a group of travellers and strangers while a plague, or something more sinister, slowly kills each of them off.

The movie is extremely claustrophobic and very well done. They can see the mainland but can't go to it. They are trapped in their own rooms -- alone -- or in the house with the other quarantees. The doctor will try to save them. Science, reason and logic -- the General's core -- will protect them. But when that core begins to fail, he is influenced by superstition, folklore and hysteria ... and acts accordingly. It is a terrific part for Karloff and the General is a great character study. The psychological depth is wonderful. There MUST be a rational explanation for the deaths. They try, and fail, to fight plague-like symptoms by using plague preventative techniques. He is so wedded to finding rational solutions that when confronted with their failure, paradoxically, he decides that the rational solution must be supernatural agents at work.

'Willing Suspension of Disbelief,' seems to be an unfamiliar concept for some of the film's naysayers. The film is unbelievable because people from different countries appear to be able to converse -- without difficulty -- in one language. It is in Greece and the only non-Greek characters are a British diplomat and his wife (may we presume that being a diplomat to Greece, knowledge of how to speak it MIGHT be advantageous?) an American reporter covering the war and a Greek general (since he doesn't have an interpreter, MIGHT he not have some knowledge of the language?), an ex-pat archaeologist who has been there for over a decade (he's probably had NO opportunity to pick up ANY of the language then, eh?) and a travelling student who is eager to return home (that classical education of Greek likely being of no use to him). People don't like the costuming either -- Karloff's wig being such a distraction that it makes the film unenjoyable for them. I really have no way of responding to what seems like an infinitesimally small and nit-picky criticism. The core of the story is whether or not as a horror film and a character study it successfully builds tension and depth from beginning to end. Do consequences of actions have meaning? The tension is high from the opening scene and the stakes only get higher through the film until the final bloody conclusion. The scares are fantastic -- particularly one in the shadows and who comes out of them. There is a tremendous scene with a coffin that is the very height of anxiety, despair and cinematic tension. Is that scene predictable? OF COURSE it is! That's what makes it's eventual occurrence so intense! It is a huge pay-off that is advertised with great skill and execution. This is one of the best films that Mark Robson ever directed and I think he graduated to A-list director largely because of it.

'Isle of the Dead' is under-watched, under-rated, and a gem of cinema intense in it's own beauty. It might be my favourite horror film of the 1940's through 50's.

38 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
A Great Horror Movie brand78
Trailer free_games_for_may
I just noticed a cord on the lantern, on the beach imtruegoblue
Now available on DVD brand78
If this movie were made today... ButchCassidyLives
Discuss Isle of the Dead (1945) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: