Thursday, March 1, 2012
DBH Re-visits:Tombs of the Blind Dead(1971)
Starting this month, I'm going into Bad Horror Movie Hell. Tons o' crap will be disgracing my tv screen so I figure I'd better get a great movie in before my trip into the celluloid sewer begins in earnest.
Directed by Amando De Ossorio, Tombs of the Blind Dead is the first in this classic quadrilogy(incidentally, check out the cool dvd box set released by Blue Underground. I'd be proud to open my wallet for that.)
In it, Ossorio introduces the concept that the Knights Templar (a real-life order that was eventually obliterated after charges of witchcraft) come back from the dead as zombie-like remnants. Their blindness is explained as the result of their eyes having been pecked out by birds after their hanged bodies were left on the gallows.
The story follows a couple who run into an old friend on vacation. The man invites the woman along for a train trip, but his girlfriend (embarrassed over his obvious interest in the other woman - and over the lesbian affair they had in school years ago) jumps off the train and ends up spending the night in the ruins where the Templars are buried. The Templars wake up from the trance and kill her. The rest of the movie follows the efforts by the victim's boyfriend and girlfriend to find out what happened.
The film is notable for the slow, creepy atmosphere it maintains throughout. The zombie Knights Templar are blind and hunt by sound, leading to several sequences where characters are attempting to be as quiet as possible so as not to be found and killed.
Although the Knights are identifiable by their uniforms, they are never called "Templars" in the movie; they are referred to as "Knights from the East."
Ossorio objected to the description of the living dead Templars as "zombies," insisting that they more resembled mummies and that, unlike zombies, the Templars were not mindless corpses.
Now, if you have yet to see this film, first of all, shame on you! Second, watch the Spanish version with English subtitles. That is the uncut version and by far the best. Watch the English version and you get a pisspoor tie in to Planet of the Apes(Here in the states, the film was released as Revenge of Planet Ape).
The movie is awesome from the get go. The dead Templars are wicked, silent, deadly. The flashback scene is a classic piece of horror cinema that sadly has gone unnoticed by those in the mainstream. The kill scenes,in parts, are kind of lame, especially the first one. But there are a few cuts that make up for it. Intelligently acted, a cult classic, Tombs of the Blind Dead is a certifiable Horror HOF'er in my book.