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The working title of this film was Camilla. The picture opens with the following prologue: "Under conquest and oppression, the people of Greece allowed their legends to degenerate into superstition, the Goddess Aphrodite giving way to the Varvoloka. The nightmare figure was very much alive in the minds of the peasants when Greece fought the victorious War of 1912." According to a memo written by Val Lewton and contained in the RKO Legal Files, the story for this film was inspired by Arnold Boecklin's painting "The Isle of the Dead." This was the first of three Lewton pictures to be supervised by Jack Gross and star Boris Karloff. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, production was suspended in late July 1944 after Karloff was hospitalized for a spinal operation. By the time Karloff had recuperated, the other cast members were busy working on other projects, and consequently, the studio decided to film Body Snatcher with Karloff before completing this picture in December 1944. The 1913 Danish film Isle of the Dead was also inspired by Boecklin's painting.