TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD
Just so you all know, I will begin doing regular movie reviews for yet another site (currently I do sporadic reviews for Penguin Comics) called Askew Reviews as soon as the first free (cool) movies come in the mail. For now, here is a review of the style of film I will be watching. Enjoy. Or not… it’s up to you, I suppose.
La Noche Del Terror Ciego (The Night of the Blind Dead)
Alt: Tombs of the Blind Dead
1971 Directed by Armando de Ossorio
I have to say, though relatively new to the foreign horror scene (okay, I’ve seen quite a few including such wonders as: ZOMBIE LAKE. Get it?), I truly enjoy the films made in Spain, Italy, and Portugal. This particular movie is no exception as, not only does it tell you right in the beginning that it is a co-created piece by both film companies from Spain and Portugal, but also the scenery right off the bat is pristine, beautiful Spanish countryside. And that, friends, is what really gives me the chills. There is just something so cerebrally ethereal about the Spanish hills, valleys, and mountains that, for some reason –perhaps it’s the filmmakers themselves- scare the boo-hoos out of me. So, for my buck, this movie is wonderful.
Basically, a group of Templar Nights are returning from their collective tombs nightly to wreak havoc on anyone silly enough to ignore local curses and tread lightly upon the cursed ground. The nights themselves, back in the 13th century, took on a life of evil and Devil worship and scoured the countryside torturing and killing (oh, and biting repeatedly) virgins. This obviously didn’t sit well with the local populous of the time and the Spaniards strung up the Templars by their necks and watched, excitedly, as crows pecked the dying body’s eyes out. So now these skeletal remnants exit their final resting places and prey on, well, anyone, only it is now by the power of hearing alone since they are Blind Dead, got it? This, in and of itself, isn’t really all that scary except for the sheer fact that they can hear right down to your very heartbeat.
Cut to our group of three that have decided to take a camping excursion in the Spanish hills. They hop aboard a train, which, coincidentally, slices directly through the ancient burial grounds of the blind dead without –Heaven forbid- stopping. The trio quarrel and Helen/Virginia (oddly her name changes –played by Maria Elena Arpon-) leaps from the creeping rail and escapes to cries of desperation from her friends into the haunted plains. Once within the ruins of the Templar’s past transgressions, Helen looks around, finds nothing of worth aside from a yowling cat and a bunch of broken stuff, and decides, ever so brightly, to camp out smack in the middle of blind dead alley. She is restless as, intertwined within an astounding musical score featuring echoes and moaning, the dead rise from the ground shrouded in what appears to be oily, filthy, ragged cloaks. Their skeletal faces still sprout prominent hair patches and they truly do look astoundingly freaky. The ghastly horses of the Hell-spawned eternal beings find their riders and the blind dead gallop, silently and stealthily, through the catacombs and sacred grounds. They chase Virginia (or, Helen) through the plains and finally fell her with claws and teeth.
Throughout nearly the rest of the movie, the two remaining friends, Roger (Cesar Burner) and Betty (Lone Fleming) take it upon themselves to shirk the helpless law and locate the now-known murdered Virginia’s killers. But, the identified body in the morgue (run hysterically by the maniacal Morgue Keeper who looks amazingly like Steve Reeves –Simon Arriaga-) has returned to life and is killing on it’s own as well! In a race against time (maybe, it all seems to be within 2 days), Betty and Roger enlist the aid of a local Contraband Runner with weapons who may know a thing or two about the curse that others are unwilling to share. They all arrive on the grounds with another woman in tow and proceed to wait. Soon, as the bells sound eerily, the blind dead rise again and slowly, methodically, on silent hoof beats, slaughter the group of four save for our new hero, Betty.
In true horror form, Betty escapes while attempting to be as silent as humanly possible, and tries desperately to make it to the train chugging along just a few yards away. The tension mounts, and boy does it, as the engineer stops the train to offer assistance. Will Betty Make it? Like I’m going to spoil this fabulous ending. Go out and get your own copy. It is well worth it and you will, as long as you enjoy European Horror, be so glad you did. Big kudos for this one.