By Doug Gibson
Isle of the Dead, 1945, RKO Radio Pictures, 71 minutes, black and white. Directed by Mark Robson, Produced by Val Lewton. Starring Boris Karloff as General Nikolas Pherides; Ellen Drew as Thea; Marc Cramer as Oliver Davis; and Katherine Emery as Mrs. St. Aubyn. Schlock-Meter rating: 8 stars out of 10.
Karloff does a very capable job as a villain who can still inspire some sympathy. The heartless, but courtly Greek general who places "rule of law" over mercy is a study of extremism from two sides. When the plague starts, Karloff's general scorns the superstitions of an elderly Greek maid, preferring to put his trust in the doctor. But when the plague claims the doctor, a disillusioned Karloff switches beliefs. Still the extremist, he allies with the maid, and with frightening intensity, believes a young woman named Thea (Ellen Drew) is possessed with an evil spirit. They plot to kill Thea.