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Isle of the Dead / Bedlam (1946)

Boris Karloff , Anna Lee , Mark Robson  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Isle of the Dead / Bedlam + I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher (Horror Double Feature) + The Leopard Man (1943)/The Ghost Ship
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Product Details

  • Actors: Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, Ellen Drew, Marc Cramer, Katherine Emery
  • Directors: Mark Robson
  • Writers: Mark Robson, Val Lewton, Ardel Wray, Josef Mischel, William Hogarth
  • Producers: Jack J. Gross, Val Lewton
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • DVD Release Date: October 4, 2005
  • Run Time: 151 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A0GOFK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,194 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Isle of the Dead / Bedlam" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by Film Historian Tom Weaver on Bedlam

Editorial Reviews

The most celebrated star in the history of screen horror headlines these two atmospheric works filled with producer Val Lewton's trademark mix of mood, madness and premeditated dread. Boris Karloff shares a quarantined house with other strangers on a plague-infested perhaps spirit-haunted Isle of the Dead. St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum in 1761 London is the setting for Bedlam. Karloff gives an uncanny performance as the doomed overseer who fawns on high-society benefactors while ruling the mentally disturbed inmates with an iron fist. Mark Robson, who edited three films for Lewton and directed five, guides both films.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Balkan Brute and British Bedlam a la Val Lewton! October 12, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A great double-feature DVD offering two greats from famed genre producer Val Lewton.



A staid, low-key Val Lewton chiller that stars Boris Karloff as a tyrannical Greek general during the Balkan war. Due to an outbreak of a mysterious plague, the General is quarantined with a small group of people on an island cemetery. As members begin to meet their doom one by one, an old Greek woman among them claims that a vampiric spirit actually responsible for the "affliction" and thusly opens the debate of reason vs. superstition. Karloff's subtle performance perfectly complements the film's eerie atmosphere, and the rest of the outstanding cast delivers strong support. Genre fans will recognize supporting actor Alan Napier, who would later gain television fame as Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, on the classic but campy 1960s series BATMAN.


BEDLAM (1946)

This creepy melodrama isn't really a horror film as much as it is a period-piece thriller. Set in and around a London insane asylum during the 18th Century, the film stars Anna Lee as an upper-crust sycophant who is wrongfully committed to the asylum when she interferes in the affairs of the institution's cruel director, Master George Sims. Boris Karloff's portrayal of Sims is devilishly delicious, yet he still manages to avoid upstaging the wonderful Lee and the rest of the strong, talented cast (a cast that includes Jason Robards, Sr., Billy House, and a young Ellen Corby, among many others).
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ISLE OF THE DEAD is Very Weak; BEDLAM is Very Strong October 23, 2005
Val Lewton (1904-1951) was brought to RKO when that studio decided to compete with Universal in the horror genre. As it happened, RKO was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy at the time--and Lewton was given the audience-tested title CAT PEOPLE and ordered to create an inexpensive movie to fit it. Without the budget to create "a monster movie," Lewton responded with a remarkably artful film that relied on suggestion and implication. He would go on to produce nine such films in all, three of them starring Boris Karloff.

Released in 1945, ISLE OF THE DEAD was inspired by a celebrated Brocklin painting. The film had a troubled production; Karloff collapsed mid-way through the shoot due to back problems and was unable to work for several weeks. When he was able to return, other members of the cast were tied up with other projects--so the film sat half finished while Karloff worked in Lewton's memorable THE BODY SNATCHER. It was quite some time before the ISLE cast could be reassembled.

This may account for the fact that ISLE is by far and way the single weakest title in Lewton's films. Whatever the case, the script is certainly no help. Credited to Josef Mischel and

Ardel Wray, the story lacks focus and the dialogue is remarkably awkward. The story concerns a 19th century Greek military commander (Karloff) who visits his wife's grave, located on an island described as a cemetery. But plague breaks out--and in order to prevent its spread the commander quarantines the island. Even as various residents fall ill and die, others attribute the deaths to a Greek-style vampire; to further complicate the story a premature burial leaves the prematurely buried considerably annoyed, to say the least.

The performances are equally weak.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
ISLE OF THE DEAD and BEDLAM are two of the nine intelligently made "B" horror movies producer Val Lewton made for RKO in the 1940's. Both are short (about an hour in length) films more of psychological suspense than real horror. Boris Karloff is great in both films though ironically his acting is the best in ISLE OF THE DEAD while BEDLAM is the better overall film.

ISLE OF THE DEAD takes place on a Greek island during the 1912 Balkan War.
Boris Karloff, wearing a curly grey wig (I suppose to make him look Grecian) plays a Greek General nicknamed "The Watchdog". We first meet him forcing another Greek officer and former friend to commit suicide because he disgraced himself by showing up late with his troops to a battle. This shocks a young American journalist who witnesses this but the journalist still agrees to accompany the General to a nearby island to visit the grave of his long deceased wife. When they reach the island they found the grave of the general's wife and all others entombed there have been ransacked for archaeological finds and the bodies destroyed. On the island the general and journalist discover the comfortable home of a charming Swiss archaeologist. Staying with the archaeologist are an old Greek servant woman named Kyra, a British diplomat and his invalid wife, the wife's beautiful Greek nurse, Thea, a doctor and a cockney salesman. The salesman soon dies of the plague and the rest of the group including the general and journalist are quarantined on the island and begin to sicken and die one by one. Kyra creates hysteria with her belief that Thea is one of the legendary Greek vampires known as the Vrykolakes and the General is particularly susceptible to this belief making his mental health greatly deteriorate.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't get it.....why all the great reviews.
I don't get it.
My wife and I love old movies. We have all of the Legacy Collection series and many other Karloff, Lugosi films. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Woodshop Man
5.0 out of 5 stars The Isle of the dead is not a great movie. As a matter of fact it is...
The Isle of the dead is not a great movie. As a matter of fact it is kind of comical at the "scary" peak but it is worth watching because it discusses topics that once... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Collector 23
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic karloff
You will love the end of bedlam
A horror film based on history
Isle of the dead didnt measure up but had its own captivating qualities
Published 7 months ago by R. Keiser
5.0 out of 5 stars boris again
I love bedlam and I remember being scared silly as a child to watch it. as an adult I appreciate the story more. Read more
Published 8 months ago by beetlejuice
5.0 out of 5 stars Two great movies
Isle of the Dead is one hour and eleven minutes and releases in theaters on September 1, 1945. The main story is nine people are trapped on an island where there is plague has... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Michael Patrick Boyd
5.0 out of 5 stars classic
two creepy classics from the "other" horror studio and director of which Karloff shines in! give it a shot... you won't be disappointed!
Published 16 months ago by Ken
Producer Val Lewton created a series of 9 Horror/Suspense films in the 1940's for RKO Studios. Boris Karloff left his monster films from UNIVERSAL behind and appeared in a few of... Read more
Published on September 14, 2012 by Jack E. Levic
5.0 out of 5 stars Karloff and Lewton!!
It doesn't get any better than this. Boris Karloff the Uncanny in two solid Lewton horror films. Bedlam is the real gem in this 2 movie set. Read more
Published on July 31, 2012 by Pulpman
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware the Vorvolaka!

Finally, we get to a Val Lewton film! Lewton was the master horror film producer of the 1940s and introduced a whole new approach to horror. Read more
Published on October 21, 2011 by Patrick Hall
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Crazy Karloff in Isle of the Dead!
1945 had an interesting horror film featuring a horror creature from Greek myth -- a vervokla or something. Read more
Published on September 11, 2011 by Scotman's Critic's Corner
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