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I am shocked to see the comments on this film by the users of the
IMDB. Shocked and saddened; Amando de Ossorio's BLIND
DEAD films are the quintessential viewing experience for 1970's
Eurohorror. This particular film is nothing short of a masterpiece,
though brain cell count and attention span deficit disorders that
run rampant amongst the youth of today could account for SOME of
the negative comments logged. Still ...
The first BLIND DEAD film does NOTHING to set it's scene, other than to show you Goya-esque views of a crumbling Spanish citadel ... One of the problems in assessing the cultural significance of a film that is 33 years old is related to how it is marketed, and by marketing the BLIND DEAD films as "Zombie Flesh Eating Gore Fests" is to miss Ossorio's point. Therefore the distributors themselves might be as much to blame as any one factor -- by trying to cash in on Zombie gorehounds and their easily parted with money, companies like Anchor Bay took a beautiful little movie and turned it into an instant reseller's nightmare. If plot is something you look for in your films, the BLIND DEAD movies will fall short. They will also fall short on the gore factor, since Ossorio was using the gore effects as ways to color his pallete of moods [see the first ten minutes of NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS/NIGHT OF THE DEATH CULT for the most vivid example]. Ossorio was very much a director of moods and visuals rather than a strict, trudging story line that plods from A to B to C and then you're through. Like most European horror from the early 1970's, the stories are actually rather unimportant next to considerations like lighting, texture, color schemes and movement. If you watch a BLIND DEAD movie for a lightning fast paced blood soaked zombie fest OF COURSE you are going to feel like you wasted $15.
Ossorio was making parables about his time: I see this series as being very subversive commentaries on the Franco regime, with the Templar Knights summond from the grave at the start of each film as a way of representing the old values of Spain finding a voice amidst the artistic repression of their time. Spanish art has always been filled with images of horror & suffering, so it would make sense that an artist like Ossorio would choose the medium of his time -- film, rather than oil & canvas -- with which to bring forth his vision, and fill it with images of horror. But that doesn't mean that his objective was to make a mind numbing splatter film that would beat it's audience into submission with a meathook. If thematic relevance could be found for allowing a pretty supporting actress to be torn to shreds by vampiric Templars in a death ritual, well so be it -- that kind of stuff sells, and was permissable under Franco's dictatorship where straight out sexual content was not.
TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD [as we know it today] stands as one of the watershed films in mixing horror with eroticism: before Ossorio, the erotically tinged horror flick tended to be softer edged, not confront the viewer with TOO much carnage [though torture films were huge during the 1970's, especially in places like Italy and Germany where film makers were free to make films about whatever they wanted], and tended to end "happily". Ossorio's work changed all of that: we see graphic amputations, decapitations & other forms of bloodletting right next to the boobs, bikini lines and Go-Go boots. Ossorio had a great eye for beauty too, and packed his films with a bevy of gorgeous, beautiful Eurobabes who would have the most apalling things happen to them right on camera but were never "exploitational" -- the sexual content in Ossorio's work is treated as a plot element itself, not just inserted into the storyline to keep the attention of the jaded from slipping.
Several of the commentors are correct when pointing out that this movie is "slow", but I contend that it is slow in a way that emphasizes the poetic nature of his visions -- events transpire in a deliberate manner, with the action taking place almost like a walz or ballad. Is this a cultural sensitivity issue? Probably -- American consumers want MORE, FASTER, BIGGER and they want it NOW. To require an audience to sit through 25 minutes of a film before even learning why any of this is happening was apparently so unbearable that the original distributor of this film -- Paragon Video -- actually took it upon themselves to restructure the film so that the middle came at the beginning, and the film opens with a death ritual/blood sacrifice of a sexy woman to assure brain-dead Americans that they were going to get to see the boobs & blood that the films were marketed as delivering. And by doing so they not only did a dis-service to the movie, but shot themselves in the foot, since the action never again reaches that frenzied peak of luridness.
Anchor Bay Entertainment and Video Treasures did better with their "remastered" widescreen presentations, but still failed to grasp how to adequately market the films to what audience, and as such you can go to Amazon & score this tape for about eight bucks from a reseller [the out-of-print DVD containing both this and the second installment usually runs $30 - $50 and is considered tres collectable] and not even have to put up with a prior rental, since AB was marketing to consumers for home sales, not rental outlets. If you are interested in finding the pivotal moment of 1970's Eurohorror when art & entertainment met head on and brought forth one of the most widely respected series of the genre, this IS it.
If you are looking for a gut munching Zombie fest with splatterings and disembowlings, I am delighted to report that this isn't it. You don't check your brains at the door when you watch a BLIND DEAD movie, you use them.
If that is beneath you as a film consumer, you are indeed well advised to look elsewhere.
I first found this film for rent back in the 80's. It was the old
Paragon rental and I really liked it right from the get go. I had
actually already seen Horror of the Zombies (aka El Buque Maldito)
which is film numero three in De Ossorio's quadrilogy of the Blind
Dead. I initially found that one to be a waste but seeing Tombs got me
back into the swing of things.
Yes this film is slow moving but most Eurohorror films are a little on the slow side. That is because the spend more time on mood and atmosphere instead of clonking the audience over the head with the point of the story. Like Squonkamatic said his review of this film, you turn your brain on not OFF when you watch these types of films.
Tons of atmosphere in this film. The Templars rising from their tombs and then mounting ghostly horseback! Well you just cant much better than that! I absolutely love the soundtrack as well with the moaning/chanting Templar voices. The ending of this film also still packs a punch. THAT is a key sequence that must be seen it's complete form and THEN will you know why I titled this review as "disturbing".
Pick this up if you can. I have the double DVD from Anchor Bay which is outta print. Stick with the Anchor Bay VHS or wait because it might be coming out again, supposedly in late 2005. All FOUR films in fact if the cards are played right and the planets align. I will have my fingers crossed and my prayers prayed for Blue Underground who has taken on this task.
The story is about a renegade band of crusader-priests that turned from the Church and embraced the black arts. The opening sequence takes us back to the living Knights Templar and their cruel and graphic killing of a scantily-clad young female sacrifice. We then move up to the 20th century and the churchyard is nothing but a ruin, however, at night when females wandering about in the middle of nowhere chance upon the ruin, the knights wake from their crypts to feed on the blood of such passersby. Interesting story and one that has many problems of belief. These knights rise from the ground one moment, and in the next they are galloping on horses. Where did the horses come from? I couldn't find an answer....perhaps you can. The acting is passable, and I concede that grudgingly. But do not think I hold only contempt and despair for this film, because I really heartily recommend it. It is scary. It is very atmospheric. It is very intense at times. These dead knights are wonderfully made-up and really create frightening moments in the film as they walk toward their victims screaming. The knights were blinded after death and now when they rise from their earthy chambers they can only hear their way toward their victims. That is a very inventive concept. The director, Amando de Ossorio, knows what to do with lighting, set creations, and pacing the plot. There were three sequels to this film and that in itself shows it has SOME merit. The film also set the trend for mixing sex and gore. There is a good bit of both, more on the sex side, and what the female leads lack in acting ability they certainly make up for some of it in their...well how shall I put it....their physical presence.
Despite a slow start, Amando de Ossorio's Tombs of the Blinddead soon
picks up and morphs into the exploitation highlight that you were no
doubt expecting going into it. Naturally, it's full of plot holes and
dubious character decisions; but it doesn't matter, because it's
Ossorio's story surrounding the knights, along with the terrifying
spectacle of the Templars rising from their tombs that makes this film
what it is. The intro to the film gives you an impression of what
you're in for, as we glide through an ancient monastery. This creepy
sequence is very much coherent with the style of this film. Amando de
Ossorio seems more concerned with making sure that his creations, the
knights themselves, look as decomposed and disgusting as possible - and
he truly succeeds. The gore takes a backseat, therefore, but it doesn't
matter at all. The plot follows three friends on a train, one of which
decides to leave that safe haven and spend the knight in the deserted
town surrounding the monastery. Unbeknown to her, that's the same place
where Templar knights were left to the crow's years earlier - and
they're still mad about it.
When you think of zombie movies, it's always George Romero's gory classics that spring to mind - and that is another thing that is great about this movie. Tombs of the Blinddead has completely made it's own style, and originality is something that the horror genre could use more of. Of course, similar plots to this one have been used before, but never in exactly this way. Another thing I admire about the director is the fact that he's obviously more concerned with the horror of the story than anything else. Exploitation flicks like this tend to show a lot of nudity or other things that aren't really relevant - but this flick has made a real effort to stay away from needless elements as much as possible. Fans of intellectual cinema wont find much to like here - the dialogue is trite and the acting is rubbish - but there's no denying that this film has at least something resembling a respectable status within the horror genre. The fact that it's been remembered over thirty years on shows that - and if you're a fan of this sort of film, then you should definitely make sure you see Tombs of the Blinddead!
"La noche del teror ciego", tells the story of a legion of evil
warriors who lived through the 13th century, known as the Templar
Knights. These warriors wanted to live forever and the way to achieve
that, was by drinking human blood and offering sacrifices to Satan. So
The Templar Knights would gladly torture and use innocent maidens for
their rituals and please their master. However, their atrocious deeds
come to an end, when the Holy Inquisition decides to punish them, by
hanging them in public. Several centuries later, in the 1970s, two
girls named Virginia and Betty go on a trip together with a guy named
Roger. After a pathetic soap opera incident, Virginia gets jealous of
her friends and jumps off the train. Landing on a strange place, she
finds shelter in some kind of forsaken fortress in ruins.
Unfortunately, that place is also a shelter for some hideously
frightening creatures that become alive during the nightfall until
dawn. Those creatures are, in fact, the Templar Knights, who come back
to life as zombies every night.
Director Armando de Ossorio didn't try to please a blood-thirsty audience that wanted brutal killings for an hour and a half. For the contrary, the body count may be humble, but "La noche del terror ciego" takes the zombie subgenre to a different level, in which the creatures are more dark, mysterious and frightening than gory and brutal. If you are a zombie lover, you're probably going to love this film and if you are not, you might be pleasantly surprised by this.
I have read on the message boards that there were a lot of gore lovers dissatisfied by the lack of blood and guts, but I think this film contains a pretty well-brought-up amount. My favorite scene in the entire movie is one in which one of the girls is trying to hide from the zombies. Since the zombies are blind, the girl stays in the same room with them and the only thing she can do to remain undetected, is staying absolutely quiet. But since she's so afraid and tense, her heart starts beating more and more quickly and all of a sudden, we see a close-up of her chest, pointing out that she's on the verge of either fainting or running for her life. The living dead knights hear those heartbeats and turn to the poor girl, who has no choice but finally running away in fear, trying to avoid the nightmarish creatures. This was perhaps one of the most atmospheric situations I have ever seen in a zombie flick. To be honest, most of the chasing sequences were practically faultless, but that one in particular had to be remarked. Reading the message boards, I also came across some people who also complained about a few unresolved questions like: "How could the zombies hear?", "Where did they get the horses?" "How come they were so strong if they were only skeletons?". The answer to all those questions could be: "this is a horror movie about living dead creatures and it's really not supposed to be realistic". To be honest, I think the zombies were more believable than the pointless lesbian story between the two girls, which didn't serve a purpose to the story. Then again, most couples in horror movies make no sense, anyway.
'The Tombs Of The Blind Dead' is not strictly a zombie movie, but involves the resurrected dead (in this case blind heretics from the 13th Century). While not as explicit as Romero or Fulci it should appeal to fans of the living dead genre. The movie is strong on atmosphere and style, similar in some ways to Jean Rollin, but without the sex or pretension. The "blind dead" themselves are one of the creepiest and most effective concepts in any horror movie. Slow moving, relentless and deadly, with a penchant for flesh eating. The scenes where the dead ride horses to hunt their prey are classic horror. My only small criticism of this movie is that there were so few scenes of them. Modern horror fans who require wall to wall FX and a killing every 15 minutes will probably find this slow going, but true buffs will be mesmerized. Highly recommended.
I absolutely love
LOVE these seventies eurohorror-flicks! And Amando
De Ossorio's Tomb of the Blind Dead is one of the purest efforts this
sub-genre brought forward
You may expect foxy ladies, raw cinematography,
creepy musical guidance and some slightly perverted undertones. The basic
plot involves a creepy Spanish myth of devil-worshiping Templars who leave
their tombs at night and dwell around the ruins of a deserted ghost town.
The zombies look very filthy and they move in terrifying slow motion! The
few sequences in which the blind dead (blind because their eyes were pecked
out by crows) chase their victims on their doomed horses are brilliant and
some of the most effective horror ever shown. Prepare yourself for a
genuinely apocalyptic ending as well, one that'll leave you speechless!
Of course, the film is filled with improbabilities and some immense structure holes, but De Ossorio's ingenious visions are so surprising that you easily forgive him for this. Highly recommended!! Tombs of the Blind Dead may very well the best exploitation film I've seen so far, along with `Mark of the Devil' (German) and `Cannibal Man' (Spanish as well). Three sequels followed, but so far I haven't had the luck of tracking them down
Yet another example of the perception of a film being superior to the reality of actually sitting and watching it. There is no argument from me that the Blind Dead (The Templar Knights) are fantastic creations and director/writer Amando de Ossorio is to be revered for their birth. The scenes of the Templars stalking their victims and chasing them on horseback are striking and haunting and now occupy a special place in the pantheon of fantastique cinema. Unfortunately, "Tombs of the Blind Dead" is also a slow, boring, illogical mess. The performances are terrible, the "suspense" scenes are hit-and-miss, and the day-for-night photography, though effective in parts, is not believable. The film's bloody climax is a good one and the final freeze frame has some power, but it's sad to see such a wonderful concept handicapped by mediocre scripting and appalling acting. Still, there are defining moments of horror within the frames of this Spanish potboiler.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
- A young woman stumbles upon an abandoned monastery and thinks it
might make a good place to spend the night. She settles herself in
beside a fireplace and gets ready for bed. But a strange noise keeps
her from sleeping. Unknown to her, the graves in the monastery's
courtyard are rumbling. The Templars have risen from their long sleep
to find another blood sacrifice. Can the girl escape from the Tombs of
the Blind Dead?
- What a wonderful, one of a kind film with some genuine scares. Very few horror movies can claim to have truly unique plots and characters. Horror is a genre that feeds off itself and constantly recycles ideas. That's one of the things that makes Tombs of the Blind Dead such an interesting and refreshing movie. De Ossorio created a new mythos for his film. De Ossorio's zombie like creatures, the Templars, come complete with a fascinating backstory - Crusaders from the 13th Century who were put to death for practicing black magic, their eyes plucked from their sockets by birds. It would have been very easy for the movie to follow the zombie mold set out by Romero in Night of the Living Dead. But the Templars are not the mindless, stumbling brand of zombie. Instead, they move, hunt, and kill in an organized fashion. It means the Templars are even more deadly than your average zombie.
- Tombs of the Blind Dead has so much going for it. The movie just drips with atmosphere. It's aided by a wonderful soundtrack featuring haunting music and an assortment of odd, creepy sounds. The crumbling monastery has to be one of the best sets I've ever seen. I can't imagine spending the night in this place. There are some places that look spooky in the daylight and this is one of them. The eyeless Templars are some of the most frightening creatures I've ever seen. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul - so what does that say if your eyes have been plucked out. And, the ending is marvelously down-beat. I really wasn't expected such an apocalyptic finish.
- Oh, it's not perfect. There are a few things that bug me. For example, where do the Templars get their horses? Is there a horse graveyard somewhere? Also, the whole bit where the dead girl comes back to life. It's wonderfully creepy, but it feels like padding. But these things are minor in comparison with everything that works in Tombs of the Blind Dead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Tombs of the Blind Dead" is one of the better Euro zombie films
Two old friends, Virginia White (Maria Elena Arpon) and Betty Turning (Lone Flemming) bump into each other and decide to spend the day together. Virginia's friend Roger (Cesar Burner) and Betty hit it off, which Virginia disapproves off and takes off for an abandoned town in the countryside. When she is found dead the next day, Betty and Roger return to the town where she was found and finds that it belonged to the Knights Templar, an old devil-worshiping cult from long ago. The police suspect that a local smuggler, Pedro Candal (Joseph Thelman) is the culprit instead of the Blind Dead Betty and Roger suspect. Enlisting Pedro and his girlfriend Maria (Maria Silva) to help them out, the four return to the town to discover that the dead are returning to life and try to hold off the attacks.
The Good News: This is the first film in the Blind Dead films, and they are at their creepiest here. The old Spanish countryside is used to perfection in building suspense, as the rural landscape and abandoned buildings weave a thrilling spell that really adds to the allure of the film. It adds an old Gothic feel to the film, which helps it out immensely to appeal to the fans of old-school horror movie fans. The ghostly, decayed ruins are just rife with suspense opportunities, and any time in the monastery is a perfect example. An almost better example is the Blind Dead themselves. Completely decayed, with few facial features and with their faces covered with tattered hoods with bony fingers and a shuffling way of walking after their victims, it really adds to their terror and makes them that much more creepy. Their appearance is the best part, as they are really creepy looking creations and quite original. It also features so many great, highlight scenes that picking one is almost impossible. The first attack in the monastery is great, as it's extended play-out allows for numerous set-ups and moments of suspense, and ranks as one. Any moment from the final assault is worthy of mention, as well as anything involving Templars also. The morgue scene is just as good, but the real winner is the attack in the doll workshop. The lighting, the editing, the glorious make-up and it's action packed wrap-up is a great all-around scene that mixes together quite well. The legacy of the Templars is also handled pretty well, with the reason for their being is slightly modified from the actual Knights Templar yet still being a clear motive for them.
The Bad News: The Templars don't get enough screen-time as they should, and are really only in a couple of scenes altogether. For being the title creatures, they ought to be in the movie more. They're creepy enough to hold a viewer's interest for a long period of time, and here their few selected appearances is a bit discerning for the die-hard fans. It's large body count is also dispatched in pretty bloodless ways, as it should've been far gorier than what it is.
The Final Verdict: Despite the fact that there is only a few selected scenes with the Blind Dead, this is a worthy addition to the Euro Zombie craze that is probably more atmospheric than most of it's contemporaries. Gore-hounds are advised to investigate, but it's not as bloody as others.
Rated R: Violence, Nudity, a scene of Rape, torture, mild language, children in danger and several brief sex scenes
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