Ah Sunday—church bells a-ringin’, folks what wanna commune with their lord makin’ for their respective places of worship in their weekly finery. We here at Castle Blogferatu are not without our own, uh, “services” such as they are. Oh sure, the godheads around here are a might cold. And distant. And tentacle-forward. And likely to rain down despair and madness upon the insignificant beings of this world. But one works with what one has.
And and what better to discuss regarding things religious than Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead series? Me, I’m a sucker for a film series. Even if I don’t particular like or care for/about many of the films in it, chance are that more than likely I’ll watch and probably own the entire thing.
But every now and again, the stars align just so and bless me with a series I really dig. Such is the case with the Blind Dead movies, all of which involve the vengeful spirits of some Knights Templar who rise from the grave as revenants (not, and I can’t stress this enough, as zombies. Oh sure, there’s still a big ol’ heapin’ heppin’ o’ flesh eatin’ and blood drankin’ but these aren’t your runnathemill mindless shambling corpses. No no.
On the other hand, the Knights’ victims become reanimated corpses themselve, so there’s that. The creature effects are, maybe not impressive, but certainly not bad, and especially not bad for 1972. There are some slow motion horseback shots of the revenants that also help convey a kind of ethereal eerieness.
Tombs Of The Blind Dead (1972)
This is the one that sets it all off. It’s established that once upon a time, in a little medieval town, Berzano, on the border of Spain and Portugal, a bunch of Knights Templar were put to death under suspicion of witchcraft and charges of heresy. Oh, and their eyes were pecked out by birds as they were left twisting in the wind after being hanged. Every night they rise from their graves seeking revenge on the living. One day, during a train trip, Virginia gets into an argument with her two traveling companions and leaves the train. In traipsing about the Spanish countryside, she comes to some creepy ruins and immediately assumes this is an ideal spot in which to bed down for the night. It. Ain’t. The havoc continues from there as Virginia’s compatriots try to piece together her death. Other people get involved. There’s a train. The blind monks pretty much kill everyone on it. Weeeee!
Return Of The Blind Dead (1973)
Kinda like Evil Dead II, this comes off more like a remake than a sequel, but it’s still a fun watch. This time, the town is Bouzano, and the villagers dispatch the Knights, this time burning their eyes out in the process. One of them manages to swears vengeance upon the village. Jumping ahead 500 years, and that same village is gearing up for a celebration of defeating the Knights lo these many years ago. What could possibly go wrong? Well, whilst a couple of the main characters get to he’n & she’n, they get interrupted by the village idiot (they still have those 500 years later?) Murdo. Murdo then goes on to sacrifice a woman he’s kidnapped. His blood sacrifice awakens the Knights. Ossorio recycles some footage from the previous movie, the Knights descend on the festival turning it into a bloodbath. I hasten to add that despite the reused footage, this movie is more effective than the first.
The Ghost Galleon (1974)
Same Knights, different setting. This time, we start of with a publicity stunt. Two models are put in a situation where it seems like they’re stranded. In the midst of this brilliant marketing ploy, they stumble across a spectral, mist-shrouded galleon and, naturally, climb aboard and lose contact with the shady exec who spawned this masterful scheme. He of course launches a rescue mission. Well, the ship contains the coffins of our old Templar pals who rise and, coming as a spoiler to absolutely nobody, kill the two models before help arrives. The rescue party shows up. More hilarity ensues.
Night Of The Seagulls (1975)
So it should be obvious at this point that the series doesn’t really operate on a episodic basis. None of the movies pick up where the last one left off. Instead, it’s more that they all feature these undead Knights Templar. And that’s fine. This was the first of these I’d ever seen It recasts the origin story yet again starting with an attack by the Knights on a medieval couple. They kill the man and take the woman away to be sacrificed. In the 20th Century, Dr. Henry Stein (Stein? Seriously?) and his wife Joan take up residence in the very same town. They are regarded with suspicion and hostility by the locals and soon discover that every 7 years the Knights ride in from the sea every night for a week seeking the sacrifice of a maiden. This of course begs the question, why does anyone still live in this place? There’s some more reused footage, and this is arguably the least effective movie of the four. Still pretty enjoyable though. I also don’t get the title.
Overall, it’s a binge-able series, good for a weekend marathon if you will. More than enough blood, sex, and nudity to go around. Fun for the whole family as it were.