BLIND DEAD poster art from its native Spain




Ed. note-  Enjoy Monday at the Morgue with the coolest looking zombies of all film, the Knights Templar of TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD.- P.F.


In the world overrun by zombies, most directors don’t take a chance in doing anything exciting with the way they look.  They’re usually pasty corpses shambling around in tattered clothes with blood on their chops.  This is a safe approach to the point of being boring.  But in TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD, Armando de Ossorio brings to his zombies a wild look and a backstory that is far from the usual undead canon.  In doing so, he created two-thirds of a masterful film, one I hold among the better European efforts of the time.



Exploring the blind dead’s tombs not a good idea



de Ossorio creates tension in his film long before any zombies show up, as Bet bumps into her old friend Virginia at a resort pool.  The two old college roommates catch up on old times, and then Virginia’s new boyfriend Roger joins them.  He clearly flirts with Bet;  even though Virginia says the relationship is casual, she’s obviously upset and frustrated when Roger invites Bet to join them on a weekend getaway.  On the train, Roger puts the moves on Bet right in front of Virginia.  Bet tries to console her, but things get complicated when, via a flashback, it becomes obvious that Virginia and Bet had a sexual tryst during college.  It’s an interesting scene filled with Catholic guilt;  as Bet tries to seduce Virginia in the flashback, a crucifix and picture of Jesus hang on the wall behind them.  These good Catholic girls are committing sin right under the eyes of the Lord.  Overwhelmed with conflicting feelings, Virginia leaps off the still moving train.  This is an ill-advised move, as she shows up in the graveyard of the blind dead.  Once she awakens them, the bloodshed begins.



Coolest looking zombies ever



The Blind Dead are, hands down, the best looking zombies I’ve ever seen.  Hooded, skeletal corpses with wisps of beard, they are merciless hunters.  They’re not the only undead, as some of them actually ride horseback on undead horses.  They move at a snail’s pace, but de Ossorio uses this to his advantage;  many of their scenes take place in slow motion, as if the whole world has slowed down, making escape impossible.  Their back story makes them even more compelling.  These are not the neighbors, as in so many zombie movies;  they are a group of medieval Knights Templar, warriors punished for their sins against the church, returning to dispense punishment in Satan’s name.



Zombies on zombie horses. These guys are badasses.



The first and third acts of TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD involve the zombies and their ruined castle.  Unfortunately, the second act stalls because it takes things back to civilization. The best scene in the middle act is a zombie attack at Bet’s place of work, a factory full of mannequins.  The mannequin is an excellent analogy for the zombie;  a likeness of a human body which appears to be living, yet is dead inside.  But even this scene draws the audience far from the Blind Dead.  de Ossorio throws in some unnecessary extra characters in the third act, but at least the film returns to its wickedly compelling zombies.


One of those characters is a merciless thug.  When he rapes one of the girls, it’s totally out of place in a fantasy horror, and unnecessary.  When he gets his comeuppance, it’s a case of the Law of Disgusting Deviant Characters’ Pleasing Deaths.  I don’t go to a movie called TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD to see a rape;  I go to it to escape real world horrors.


This flick also stands as perhaps the oddest case of the Horror Movie Relocation Program.  In an effort to cash in on PLANET OF THE APES (???), it went briefly under the title REVENGE FROM PLANET APE.  There’s even an opening with a voiceover discussing how ape overthrew man.  That’s about as surreal as you can get.  Don’t believe me?  You can find it as an extra on the DVD.


BLIND DEAD ends with a bunch of still pictures and screams.  There’s a train heading out of town, and it leaves open the question, What would happen if the Knights Templar got out of that cemetery?  Chilling stuff indeed.


de Ossorio’s film is only really known among hardcore zombie fans and those of European horror from its era.  It deserves a wider fanbase, if only because its zombies are the coolest ever committed to film.  The director would make several sequels, but none would match his first effort, even if those Knights Templar still looked so cool.


-Phil Fasso

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