AN INTRODUCTION – THE BLIND ZOMBIE QUARTET
1968 and mainstream culture embraced Romeros’ modern cult classic ‘Night of the Living Dead’, which shook the graves of slumbersome zombiedom.
1971 and the first euro-offering inspired by Romeros raw slice of corpse and cannibalisation came along. Amando de Osorio’s ‘Tombs of the Blind Dead’ reflected an emerging trend that would eventually become vogue and become an entire genre on its own.
A masterpiece of euro sleaze ‘Tombs’ had a roughness and gothic originality neglected by anything before. It became hits at the drive in circuits, creates a cult in itself and later went on to become one of the darlings of late night yank cable channels.
De Ossorio had been around a wee bit longer regarding experience that outranked Romero. In 1964 de Ossorio directed the western ‘Tumbo del Pistolero’, this gained de Ossorio the credibility to establish his name in early Spanish cinema.
Next de Ossorio flirted with horror with the 1969 ‘Malenka: Niece of the Vampire’ with Anita Ekberg. This was very tame fayre indeed and fortunately Romero’s ‘inspiration’ ignited de Ossorio into creating the superb Knights Templar or ‘Blind Dead’ movies.
De Ossorio added a fascinating ‘historic’ sub-plot, genuinely creepy zombies, decent sfx, liberal doses of sex and a semi-graphic smattering of bloodletting to create a winner with the public and the imagination alike.
‘Tombs of the Blind Dead’ has a perverse atmosphere evident throughout and most if not all characters are obsessed by sex. It is this obsession that ‘animates’ the Blind Dead into their blood drinking spree. These crusty beings can only hunt for prey via sound as their eyes were pecked out when left on the gibbet , hung for crimes of inhumanity as Knights Templar ; or as we may believe in the Templars second outing their eyes were burned out by pissed off villagers. Of course we are also informed the templars' are of the ‘satanic sect’ type so that in their undead incarnation not only kills for a bit of thirst but for kinky sadistic kicks too – awesome!!!!!
The fausty freaks returned in the virtual remake of the first ‘Return of the Evil Dead’ (1973), I had always felt this to be a bit dull. It seemed to lead to gory avenues but stopped brusquely where as in the first film these were part of the shock value showing us the voyeur just how nasty these cadavers are. I read later that a totally uncensored print does exist but for one reason or another could not be seen outside of Spain. Not due, for a change, to a nation’s nannying but due to the rights of the versions and the material contained therein. Apparently several pieces of footage contain more of the red stuff and even more dialogue and sequences omitted from the international release. I hear of the knee trembling release of a Blind Dead box set featuring this version as well as pristine editions of the other films too! I cannot wait as I have not seen the full version and even truncated the movie is pretty decent and the lack of impact lets it down. With this restored what a spectacle to behold!
The third (and most disappointing-according to numerous sources) blind dead film in 1974 was ‘The Ghost Galleon’ or ‘Return of the Zombies’ as it was also strikingly known. This may be weak due to the pace of the piece but I only managed to see a washed out version of this. What messages that are lost in the action of the moment can be saved and enhanced by the cinematography, unfortunately I could not appreciate this as the film was as anaemic as the plot was turning out to be. The new release could save this again by bringing it to life. Who’s to say this is not as atmospherically creepy as ‘The Fog’, perhaps no version of the movie has done this justice as of yet. The poster to its bloody impressive hence it heads this narrative, fantastic artwork which will never be seen again.
1975 saw the Knights Templars’ last dusting off in ‘The Night Of The Seagulls’, although the original could never somehow be excelled this movie ended the saga as good as I would say. Another couple of articles mention ‘missing footage’, hopefully this to will be remedied in the new release. Some stunning images abound from the cinematography used in this swansong as decaying, monk like unspeakables ride in slow motion on their living dead steeds, galloping in the surf. Their victim awaits about to be exsanguinated or much worse; chained to the rocks by jet net-clad village crones.
Such scrumptious imagery can be witnessed in these glorifying chapters of Exploitations’ history. Prepare for reviews when the complete viewing pleasure becomes possible sometime in the Autumn 2005.
After a brief guest appearance in a hallucinatory / dream sequence in John Gillings’ 1975 ‘La Cruz Del Diablo’, sources state that this is a messy, dreary concoction that thankfully has little to do with the Knights Templar quartet of movies and is only connected by a small percentage of content. Having never had the opportunity to view this I cannot comment. So after this small outing the Blind Dead lumbered back to their tombs awaiting another appearance need………………………………..
La Noche Del Terror Ciego (1971)
Other pseudonyms ; Mark of the Devil 4 ; Tombs of the Blind Dead, Crypt of the Blind Dead, Night of the Blind Dead , The Blind Dead , Tombs of the Blind Dead .
*Check out the awesome, hypnotic, demonic, chanting soundtrack courtesy of Mr Antón García Abril thankfully continuing throughout the quartet.
Ataque de los muertos sin ojos, El (1973)
Other pseudonyms; Attack of the Blind Dead, Mark of the Devil 5: Return of the Blind Dead, Return of the Blind Dead, Return of the Evil Dead
Buque maldito, El (1974)
Other pseudonyms; Ghost Ships of the Blind Dead, Horror of the Zombies ,Noche del buque maldito, The Blind Dead 3, The Ghost Galleon.
Noche de las gaviotas, La (1975)
Other pseudonyms; Don't Go Out at Night (UK) (video title), Night of the Blood Cult, Night of the Death Cult, Night of the Seagulls, Terror Beach (video title),
The Blind Dead 4.