Monday, September 14, 2009

#49 - Isle of the Dead

Isle of the Dead (1945)
Slightly Trashy

Directed by: Mark Robson. Written by: Ardel Wray.

Plot: A group of people end up stuck on a small desert island because of this crazy ass plague, and one or more of them may be infected. Or a vampire. Or both. I forget, but I’m pretty sure there was a thing about one of them being a vampire. Needless to say, paranoia abounds.

Review: One of my favourite horror/thriller genres is the group-of-people-trapped-in-small-space-with-lethal-monster-or-virus category. Just think of all the fucking awesome movies that fall under that label. Alien, The Thing, Virus, and that movie about that house… I could go on but why bother.

Seriously though, this movie builds an effectively creepy atmosphere and even though nothing really happens, it feels like it does and at the end of the movie, you are left satisfied as far as thrillers go. Although strangely unsatisfied. This is one of those movies where I was not entirely sure where I stood by the end of it.

But yeah, this is one of those Val Lewton-produced thangs from the forties and man, he fuckin knew how to make a movie. Sure, he was the producer, but, like, he produced them real good. Body Snatcher, Cat People... actually, those are the only two I can think of, but you know, they were damn good movies.

They all used lighting and character and mood and shit like that effectively and this one is no exception. The result is really fucking spooky. I remember being quite bothered by it when I watched it (I was but a wee bairn at the time and disturbed easily, but it has hung over me like a stink ever since).

Also, it’s got Boris Karloff in one of his better roles (I’m kind of a Boris Karloff whore so I think all of his roles are his better roles (better than what?), but, you know, this was good), and fun to watch in a morbid sort of way. I mean, he was a bit of an asshat but then who isn't.

I mean, it’s a total who’s-going-to-die-in-what-weird-way movie, but that’s cool. Actually, it’s also one of those premature burial things (one of the characters has those fainting spells that look like death, thus she is terrified of being buried alive. She tells the doctor about her condition and he says that he'll make extra special sure that she's dead before they bury her, but then he dies. Then, she goes into one of her fainting spells and the other people think that she's dead and so they bury her and then... yeah. Spoilers), which explains why it bothered me when I was little. I watched it probably around the same time I watched Pit and the Pendulum and House of Usher, so they do run together a little bit inside my mind but you know whatever.

Okay, that’s about all I can say about this movie so I’m just going to fill up space for a little while. I’ve been sort of rushing a lot of these reviews to get them done by whatever date I’ve set for myself (I marked it on my calendar but can’t remember it offhand), so a lot of them kind of suck. At the moment of this writing, I am sitting in bed, contemplating writing a review for Day the Earth Stood Still, and wondering whether or not I should review the original as well. I dunno. Whatever.

Favourite Part: I liked the doctor. He seemed like a pretty decent guy. Whenever I watch a movie in which there are a bunch of people trapped in an isolated location with a killer virus or a monster, I always pick one person to root for and in this one it was the doctor. The person I pick almost always dies, which is a bit of a bummer. Other examples of these people include: Kane in Alien; Richard Denning in Creature from the Black Lagoon; Windows in The Thing and so on.

Other Versions: Supposedly a remake came out this year.

Sequels: None.

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