Well for this week’s selection I probably bit off a bit more than I could chew. A friend of mine told me about the Blind Dead series by Spanish director Amando de Ossorio. Like a complete idiot I decided to watch all four of them.
The Blind Dead were a sect of devil worshiping Knights Templar straight out of medieval conspiracy theories. When they were finally executed for their crimes they are blinded. Now in the present day they have returned as undead revenants to carry out their reign of evil.
The first film Tombs of the Blind Dead we are introduced to the dead in a flash back where they are carrying out their diabolic ceremony, killing and drinking the blood of a beautiful sacrifice.
From there we are brought to the present where a woman having, abandoned her friends during an outing in the country ends up camping in the the ruins of the Templar estate. As the sun sets they inevitably rise from their graves and make short work of her. When her friends come looking for her the real fight begins.
The film is about as simplistic as it sounds. But the general look of it is effective. The Blind Dead are especially convincing through a combination of effective costumes and puppets. They look especially effective when show riding through the graveyard in their undead horses.
In the second film. Return of the Blind Dead, the Templars are loose again. In the previous film they only seemed to be a threat to those who were foolish enough to enter their territory. Here they attack a town who had executed and blinded them in the past. After the predictable slaughter, with the town’s resistance being futile, this leads to a seige of a church with the remaining townfolk remenicent of night of the living dead (except the Blind Dead are armed to the teeth with swords and have horses.)
Of the four films this is the only one that really taks advantage of the Templar’s blindness. (Most of the time this is a moot point since everybody starts screaming the instant they see them and thus giving themselves away) This leads to a tense climax where the surviving cast tries to sneak out of the church while trying to keep a child quiet by blindfolding her so she does not see the dead.
The third film, The Ghostly Galleon gives us a change of scene. Two models out in a small boat as part of a publicity stunt run into a sixteenth century galleon. When they go in to investigate they become the Templar’s latest victim. When their employers come looking for them their luck isn’t much better.
This film was the weakest for me with the horror becoming nearly ponographic as the Templars dismember their victims one at a time.
The final film Night of the Seagulls tells the story of a married couple who move to a secluded primitive town to be it’s doctor. The inhabitants ar standoffish and don’t want them there. Soon it’s revealed that the town has been sacrificing their maidens to the templars. (and with the number they require, even every seven years the biggest mystery of the film is how the village lasted past the middle ages)
In this movie de Ossorio seems to reboot everything we know about the blind dead from the past three films. He doesn’t seem to remember that the dead are blind anymore as they go after their victims even when they keep their mouths shut (yes it has been said they are draw to your heartbeat but the films were never consistent about that anyway.) and in this one they worship what looks like Lovcraft’s Dagon (and strangely after the loosing battle that goes through the whole movie all takes to stop them is destroying it’s statue.)
All in all while the concept of this film was interesting at first, I would have been fine stopping at the first one. I had hoped for an extended storyline but instead they mostly all stood alone. Everything that was impressive about the first film, like the dead rising was repeated over and over again never adding anything to the core concept. In the end the whole thing degenerated into something little better than sexist snuff films.