Isle of the Dead/Bedlam

Overview

Inspired by Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin's famous painting, this seminal horror film marked the first of three collaborations between RKO producer Val Lewton and British genre star Boris Karloff. Set during the 1912 Balkan Wars, Isle of the Dead featured Karloff as Greek general Pherides who, along with an American journalist (Marc Cramer), visits the gravesite of his late wife on a deserted island. They find the grave desecrated and a group of travelers held hostage by the superstitious beliefs of Kyra (Helene ...
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Overview

Inspired by Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin's famous painting, this seminal horror film marked the first of three collaborations between RKO producer Val Lewton and British genre star Boris Karloff. Set during the 1912 Balkan Wars, Isle of the Dead featured Karloff as Greek general Pherides who, along with an American journalist (Marc Cramer), visits the gravesite of his late wife on a deserted island. They find the grave desecrated and a group of travelers held hostage by the superstitious beliefs of Kyra (Helene Thimig). One by one, the inhabitants of the island are felled by what Dr. Drossos (Ernest Dorian aka Ernst Deutsch) terms the plague, but what Kyra insists is the work of Thea (Ellen Drew), a young nurse she believes to be a "varvoloka," an ancient Greek vampire. Thea's patient, Mrs. St. Aubun (Katherine Emery), suffers from death-like trances and, sure enough, during one of her spells, she is pronounced dead by Swiss archeologist Albrecht (Jason Robards Sr. and is interred alive.

Bedlam is one of the costlier psychological-horror efforts from RKO producer Val (Curse of the Cat People) Lewton. Boris Karloff stars as the supervisor of the notorious 18th century British insane asylum St. Mary's of Bethlehem, better known as "Bedlam." Anna Lee, who co-stars as the feisty mistress of a fatuous government official, is appalled by the miserable treatment afforded the Bedlam inmates and insists that reforms be initiated. The crafty, politically connected Karloff responds by having Lee herself incarcerated in the institution: she is a "willful woman", and therefore must be insane. With the help of a few of the more rational patients, Lee stages a mutiny, capturing Karloff and giving him a mock trial. Though they don't truly intend to harm Karloff, he is seriously injured by one of his tormented patients. Assuming that Karloff is dead, the other inmates wall up his body in the cellar -- and as the last brick is put in place, we see Karloff's eyes suddenly open! Though it has it moments of genuine terror, Bedlam is as historically accurate as possible, right down to the archaic dialogue passages. For the most part, the film is an indictment against political corruption, with Karloff (in a terrific, multi-faceted performance) alternately bullying and wheedling to save his own behind. Val Lewton (writing under the pseudonym Carlos Keith) based his film on one of the illustrations in Hogarth's "The Rake's Progress," glimpses of which are seen throughout the film as transitional devices.

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Special Features

Commentary on Bedlam by Film Historian Tom Weaver
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/4/2005
  • UPC: 053939724226
  • Rating:

  • Source: Turner Home Ent
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 2:31:00
  • Format: DVD

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Isle of the Dead/Bedlam
1. Credits and Forward [1:30]
2. Toll of War [4:07]
3. Island cemetary [3:25]
4. Albrecht's guests [5:18]
5. Going for medicine [3:46]
6. In rebellion [1:25]
7. Plague strikes [2:48]
8. Breeding beliefs [3:32]
9. Proud of death [3:07]
10. Familiar enemy [4:43]
11. When we sleep [4:15]
12. Watchdog's duty [4:31]
13. Thea's spirit [2:11]
14. The only safe thing [2:18]
15. Taken ill [4:28]
16. Is it my fault? [1:50]
17. Buried alive [3:46]
18. Breakout [3:26]
19. Out of the darkness [4:25]
20. Trident's target [3:20]
21. I saw the Vorvolaka [3:25]
1. Credits [1:29]
2. Ill-fated escapee [2:36]
3. Capital fellow Sims [4:28]
4. Honest mason [2:32]
5. Nell's Bedlam tour [3:27]
6. Pitiless [1:59]
7. Fête fatality [4:31]
8. What can I do? [2:10]
9. Quarrel with Mortimer [4:13]
10. Parrot parlay [5:50]
11. That devil Wilkes [2:24]
12. Commission on Lunacy [5:08]
13. Inquiring Quaker [3:16]
14. I break no rules [3:52]
15. Her new weapon [3:53]
16. Playing cards [3:19]
17. Good treatment [3:45]
18. Caged angel [6:03]
19. The remedy [3:48]
20. Out under the stars [2:13]
21. A sane man [3:49]
22. Inside Bedlam's walls [2:46]
23. Too much heart [1:27]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Isle of the Dead/Bedlam
   Isle of the Dead
      Play Movie
      Scene Selections
      Languages
         Spoken Languages
            English
         Subtitles
            English
            Francais
            Español
            Subtitles: Off
   Bedlam
      Play Movie
      Scene Selections
      Commentary by Tom Weaver
      Languages
         Spoken Languages: English
         Subtitles
            English
            Francais
            Español
            Subtitles: Off
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