Sept. 2, 2008, 11:44 p.m. CST
Sept. 2, 2008, 11:50 p.m. CST
This is THE Val Lewton film . It hits all the right notes has great performances ... I would love to watch a double feature of this and White Zombie in an old theater on Halloween night ! Just great atmosphere!!
Sept. 2, 2008, 11:50 p.m. CST
Really...not if you paid me.
Sept. 2, 2008, 11:51 p.m. CST
Oh yes, that final sequence when (SPOILER) the wife escapes from the coffin and stalks the others on the island is as scary and suspenseful piece of filmmaking as you will ever see. A brief glimpse a white dress, a rustling of branches, a distant moan or footstep - very scary. And without any music or score! Just natural (or should I say expressionistic) sound to induce chills. The rest of the movie is flawed, yes, but the end is nightmare inducing.
Sept. 2, 2008, 11:53 p.m. CST
I disagree with you about this being THE Val Lewton film (for me that honor belongs to Cat People or The Leopard Man) but I am glad you brought up White Zombie. That is definitely one that Quint should add to his October list.
Sept. 2, 2008, 11:56 p.m. CST
by The Eskimo
...not really. It scared me too. So did The Ring. Anyone who says differently was sitting in the theater staring just away from the screen at the emergency exit sign the whole time so his friends (date, maybe, doubtit) wouldn't see him jump at the scary parts...and then left saying loudly "that movie wasn't scary." I know this person. Well.
Sept. 3, 2008, 12:44 a.m. CST
by The Eskimo
Sept. 3, 2008, 1:27 a.m. CST
I don't think you got what Quint said. He saw the movie before there was a whisper about it. Nobody had seen a trailer, there was no Asian DVD to import. He saw it before Dreamworks bought it. And he saw it in a room with 4 people - none of whom knew what they were watching. - That's the same way I saw THE EYE - and it fucking froze my blood - at one point I swear something came off the screen and went through me. Of course that was 2 years before it came to the U.S.'s dvd market. Amazing.
Sept. 3, 2008, 1:28 a.m. CST
by wuher da brewer
They're both quite good. Will you be getting to them? Bedlam has kind of an Arkham Asylum feel. I've enjoyed your Lewton reviews. I'm not a big fan of Seventh Victim though.
Sept. 3, 2008, 3:05 a.m. CST
At that screening, the theater was pitch black. I don't even remember seeing exit signs, the sound was loud and I was completely in the movie. This was before Asian horror saturated the genre. And make sure you know I'm not talking about the iffy US remake, but the original film, which still gets my skin crawling... the sound she makes, the way she broken-bones crawls, the inescapable finality once you've gotten her attention... I hold the original Ju-On is one of the best haunted house movies in the genre, not to mention one of the best genre pictures of the last decade or two. Maybe not THE best, but damn it worked for me.
Sept. 3, 2008, 4:17 a.m. CST
It’s interesting how similar this is to The Ghost Ship. Unstable commanders with diminishing abilities take actions with life and death consequences. Boris Karloff isn’t quite as mad as Richard Dix, but the line between fantasy and reality crumbles nonetheless. I wonder if Mark Robson and Val Lewton were commenting on the inherent fascism of the World War II machine at the time. We were on the right side of the war, but atrocities like the Japanese interment camps happened here at home. Abuse of power seems forefront in their minds. It’s another illustration of the horror genre’s ability to comment on current events without ruffling most people’s feathers. The story doesn’t have the clean narrative lines of The Ghost Ship, but I still think it’s quite good. The psychological defects of Karloff aren’t as clearly explained as Dix’s, but I wonder if they might be clearer on a second viewing. The exploration of science versus superstition is interesting. What will people revert to when death looms? The draping of spooky superstitious language and stories is impressive. Helen Thimig excels as the old woman. There’s also a microcosm aspect to the events like in The Ghost Ship. The folks facing death on the island stand in for all of us. Like in these other Lewtons there’s a square hero type who irks a little. I guess they need somebody the audience can unquestionably root for. The climatic sequences are quite tense with some fantastic cinematography. The first scene with Karloff’s silent order is terrific. Much like Dix, a lot of what Karloff says is reasonable, which makes his fall tragic. Overall though it didn’t grab like The Ghost Ship, but I’d like to revisit Isle of the Dead again.
Sept. 3, 2008, 4:26 a.m. CST
ISLE OF THE DEAD marks the 3 month anniversary of A Movie A Day! I love you, sweetheart! Maybe one of these days I'll pop the question.
Sept. 3, 2008, 4:29 a.m. CST
LOL Congrats on 3 months! But will you pop something else of hers? Yes, my mind is very dirty.
Sept. 3, 2008, 4:29 a.m. CST
The original screenplay for this movie turned up online, and I have to say that it is a vastly richer and more satisfying film than what they made. In fact you could almost just take that script and make it today, without the obvious budgetary and running time restrictions Lewton so brilliantly worked with.
Sept. 3, 2008, 5:05 a.m. CST
For me it's probably Cat People then Isle of the Dead. Although Isle of the Dead is more my kind of film, I find Cat People a lot more memorable. Good luck with Bedlam - I can't remember much about that one - it's kind of merged with The Flesh and the Fiends in my head.
Sept. 3, 2008, 8:59 a.m. CST
by the beef
I may be a little off on this, but after I watched all of the Lewton flicks and then a few more non-Universal monster Karloff pictures I noticed a lot of similarities between Karloff and Jeremy Irons. I watched the JU-ON television mini-series at a friend's house (which we rented from Pedazo Chunk)a few Halloweens ago, and I had issues driving home that night.
Sept. 3, 2008, 9:17 a.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
"Karloff is not fit enough to SMELL my SHIT!"
Sept. 3, 2008, 10:12 a.m. CST
After "I Walked with a Zombie", this is my favorite Lewton film. Both films, at least in my opinion, are able to create a world that's at once believable and dream-like. The black & white cinematography, the sound design, the performances, they all work to draw you in. When I think about "Isle of the Dead", I think about the scene that really creeped me out, which was the scene in the tomb: the quiet, the dripping water, and then the sound of fingers clawing at the inside of a coffin. Still creeps me out. The performances are pretty high calibre with, as Quint noted, the exception of the cockney merchant, who is straight out of central casting. Fortunately he gets about four lines before he's tits up dead. Karloff is terrific and contrary to Quint's review, I thought he was a very sympathetic character - a guy who's had a hard life, dealt with war and loss, and made a lot of hard decisions. And even when he slips into insanity, he's still trying to do what he perceives as his duty to save lives. So yeah, pretty sympathetic to me. The guy playing Dr. Drososs was also excellent, and I liked the archeologist. But, as one would expect in a Lewton film, the women really steal the show and have the most dynamic roles. The old woman, the wife, and the servant girl, they're really the catalysts for everything that happens. And they're all very good, especially the wife, who is a pretty nervy broad for standing up so forcefully to Karloff's character. And when she goes completely off the rails after being buried alive, and becomes this homicidal white phantom floating through the climax of the picture, she's really scary. So "Isle of the Dead" really works for me. I have probably seen it a dozen times now and I just enjoy going back to it. The painting, called "Isle of the Dead", that gave rise to the title of the film, appears in the nurse's bedroom in "I Walked with a Zombie", and I also have it hanging over my bed. That's how much I liked these Lewton films. But I'm afraid "Bedlam" is going to be a letdown for you, Quint. It was the last Lewton horror picture at RKO and its not the strongest Lewton film, or even the best one with Karloff. "The Body Snatcher" is much more satisfying.
Sept. 3, 2008, 10:17 a.m. CST
As long as we are talking Karloff, I am going to throw out the suggestion again that Quint should review "Targets". If you haven't seen it, is a damn good movie. One of my favorite Karloff flicks (along with "Mad Monster Party?")
Sept. 3, 2008, 12:34 p.m. CST
Sept. 3, 2008, 1:06 p.m. CST
by Napoleon Park
I watched the House double feature last night and seeing those shots of Karloff not in monster make-up makes me see a remarkable resemblance. In a couple of years, after House runs it's course, Hugh Laurie should look into starring in a Karloff biography. Plus, he'd get to wear the Frankenstein's monster and Mummy make-up. Tim Burton could direct.
Sept. 3, 2008, 2:25 p.m. CST
I love Targets... was introduced to that one years ago by the Alamo Drafthouse, with Peter Bogdanovich in attendance no less. Karloff is awesome in that movie... that shot of him determined to get to the shooter at the drive-in at the end is burned into my brain. <BR><BR>WriteFromLeft - That's a good one!
Sept. 3, 2008, 2:30 p.m. CST
Seriously - watch Night of the Demon! Watch it!
Sept. 3, 2008, 2:35 p.m. CST
Would watch it whenever it was on. In the days before home video us kids were slaves to local programming. Upside was we saw a lot of stuff we wouldn't have watched otherwise if given a choice; downside was we would wait years to see something again.
Sept. 3, 2008, 3:37 p.m. CST
by tobias funke
Apparently it scared the crap of Scorsese when he was younger too.