Tombs of the Blind Dead
|Tombs of the Blind Dead|
Original Spanish film poster
|Directed by||Amando de Ossorio|
|Written by||Amando de Ossorio|
|Music by||Antón García Abril|
|Edited by||José Antonio Rojo|
Tombs of the Blind Dead is a 1972 Spanish-Portuguese horror film written and directed by Amando de Ossorio. Its original Spanish title is La noche del terror ciego, which means "The Night of the Blind Terror".
The film was the first in Ossorio's "Blind Dead" series, spawning three official sequels: Return of the Blind Dead (1973), The Ghost Galleon (1974) and Night of the Seagulls (1975). Its success helped kickstart the Spanish horror film boom of the early 1970s.
Legend has that in the abandoned medieval town of Berzano, at the border between Spain and Portugal, the Knights Templar (a fictionalized version of the real-life order that was dissolved in the 14th century following charges of witchcraft and heresy) leave their tombs at night and come back from the dead as revenants. The reanimated corpses are blind, because their eyes were pecked out by birds while their hanged bodies rotted on the gallows.
While on vacation nearby with her friend Roger Whelan (César Burner), Virginia White (María Elena Arpón) reconnects with her dear college friend Betty "Bet" Turner (Lone Fleming), who relocated in the area and now runs a mannequin factory. Roger immediately takes a liking to Betty and invites her along for a train journey, provoking Virginia's jealousy. Angry at both, Virginia jumps off the train and spends the night among the ruins of Berzano. The knights rise from their tombs and attack her, ultimately biting and ripping her flesh.
The next morning, Betty and Roger retrace Virginia's steps, trying to find out what happened to her. They hear about the legend from some locals and meet two police investigators who inform them about Virginia's horrible fate. Later at the morgue, next to Betty's laboratory, Virginia's corpse comes back to life and kills a custodian, then flees to the lab and is only stopped by Betty's assistant, who manages to set Virginia on fire.
In the meantime, Betty and Roger are investigating the legend with the help of Professor Pedro Candal (José Thelman), who indirectly send them to find his son Pedro, who lives near Berzano as a small-time smuggler and is suspected by the police to be the one who killed Virginia as a way to instill fear in the locals. Once they've located Pedro and convinced him to help them prove the knights are real, Betty and Roger return with Pedro and his lover Nina (Verónica Llimera) to Berzano, to confront the knights once and for all.
- Lone Fleming as Betty Turner
- César Burner as Roger Whelan
- María Elena Arpón as Virginia White
- José Thelman as Professor Pedro Candal
- Rufino Inglés as Inspector Oliveira
- Verónica Llimera as Nina
Although the Knights are identifiable by their uniforms, they are never called "Templars" in the film; they are referred to as "Knights from the East". Ossorio objected to the description of the revenant Templars as "zombies", insisting that they more resembled mummies who feed like vampires and that, unlike zombies, the Templars were not mindless corpses.
The Spanish version, La noche del terror ciego, differed from the retitled English version. In the latter, a flashback of the living Knights Templar torturing and drinking the blood of a female victim was moved to the beginning of the film, and most of the sex and gore (for instance, the scene depicting the lesbian relationship between Betty and Virginia, and the sequence on a train in which the Knights kill a woman in front of her child) were removed.
American distributors decided to severely re-edit the film for its English-language release and add a new opening scene to cash in on the success of the Planet of the Apes film series. The plan was to replace the film's original setting with a post-apocalyptic future in which the undead were deceased intelligent apes, similar to the ones seen in Planet of the Apes. Rather than doing a reshoot, location footage from the film was edited together, the Templar flashback sequence was removed, and a narration track explaining the premise was produced as an introduction. The revised film was retitled Revenge from Planet Ape.
The film was first released on DVD on September 27, 2005 as a limited edition by Blue Underground, containing both the original Spanish version (subtitled but not dubbed) and the Revenge from Planet Ape opening sequence.
Writing in The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle said, "Spanish filmmaker de Ossorio earned international fame with this widely popular tale of blind zombie monks, creating a fresh mythology and unforgettable zombies, all set against imposing scenic backgrounds". Allmovie gave the film a positive review, praising the film's make-up effects, chilling atmosphere, and soundtrack. TV Guide awarded the film 2 out of 4 stars and called it "a slow and lackadaisically plotted thirsty-corpse movie distinguished by terrific music and locations, and genuinely eerie zombies". Brett H. from Oh the Horror! gave the film a positive review, stating, "Tombs of the Blind Dead is a slow moving Spanish classic that is a must see for all fans of creature features with ample amounts of all the things that make horror great. It's not perfect and it does have some small inconsistencies (why in the world are the Templars so powerful, yet sometimes swing their swords like goofy puppets?), but you'll be too engulfed in the atmosphere and monsters to worry too much about it". Jeremy Zoss from Film Threat gave the film a negative review, stating, "Like many old works of entertainment form Mexico, Tombs of the Blind Dead is not without its charms. It would be a great film to watch while drunk with a group of friends. However, when looking for a real horror film, the Blind Dead are definitely not worth seeing". Film critic John Kenneth Muir gave the film a mostly positive review, writing that the film lost momentum after the first act but praised the film's suspense, unsettling imagery and the effectiveness of the Templar revenants as "genuinely scary". Adam Tyner of DVD Talk wrote, "Although Tombs of the Blind Dead isn't a particularly gory film, several of its sequences are deeply unsettling".
More recently, the Templar appeared in the unofficial, shot-on-video sequel Graveyard of the Dead, also known as El retorno de los templarios (2009).and in supporting roles in Don't Wake the Dead (2008) and Unrated: The Movie (2009), two films by German director Andreas Schnaas.
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- A Companion to the Horror Film, edited by Harry M. Benshoff
- Tyner, Adam (18 September 2005). "The Blind Dead Collection". DVD Talk. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- "La Noche del Terror Ciego (1971) - Amando De Ossorio". AllMovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 171–173. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.
- "La Noche del Terror Ciego (1971) - Review - AllMovie". Allmovie.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
- "Tombs Of The Blind Dead Review". TV Guide.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
- H, Brett. "Horror Reviews - Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)". Oh the Horror.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
- Zoss, Jeremy. "Film Threat - Tombs Of The Blind Dead". Film Threat.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
- Muir, John Kenneth (2002). Horror Films of the 1970s. McFarland & Company. pp. 238–240. ISBN 9780786491568.
- "Tombs Of The Blind Dead (Noche del terror ciego) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
- The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, Volume 2: 2000-2010 by Peter Dendle
- Zombie Terrors: An Anthology Of The Undead. USA: Asylum Press. 2010. ISBN 978-1617240010.
- Island of the Blind Dead Celebrates the Templar Knights!
- Willis, Andy (2013). "Amundo de Ossorio's 'Blind Dead' Quartet and the Cultural Politics of Spanish Horror". In Hunt, Leon; Lockyer, Sharon; Williamson, Milly. Screening the Undead: Vampires and Zombies in Film and Television. I.B. Tauris. pp. 233–248. ISBN 9780857735430.