W. Black | East Prairie, MO United States | 09/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"De Ossorio's masterpiece! Along with Naschy's werewolf movies, the Blind Dead films are the best that Spanish horror has to offer. These films have everything you could possibly want from Euro exploitation--zombies, lesbians, flesh-eating, nudity (did I mention there're lesbians?), and, of course, the Blind Dead their own bad selves. The plot concerns the Knights Templar, executed for withcraft and their eyes plucked by ravens, raising from the dead and doing the kind of stuff you've come to expect from satanic flesh-eating zombies. What sets these skeletal dead-heads apart from the legions of walking dead that have come before and since is that they carry swords, wear monk robes, ride horses, and have no eyes (duh). They find their prey by sound alone, and then it's hell to pay, baby!!!!This movie is lots and lots of fun. Too bad the other two films in the series aren't on DVD. A cut version of the 3rd film used to be available on video as Horror of the Zombies and can sometimes be found in bigger video stores--just be prepared to blow dust off the box. You might even find the fourth film, the great Night Of the Seagulls, uncut, under the title Mark Of The Devil 3. Good luck!!!And if you REALLY like this movie, the heavy metal band Cathederal has a song on one of their discs called "Night Of The Seagulls" about none other than our friends the Blind Dead. "We are the Blind Dead, we have no eyes inside our head..."If you REALLY, REALLY dig this freaky movie, check out Michael Soavi's film The Church to see more zombie versions of the Knights Templar (though with their eyes)."
Terrible. I love it.
M. Nichols | West Chester, OH United States | 07/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How thrilling it is to be an Anchor Bay fanatic! The finest in poorly dubbed, overly gory European horror in gorgeous DVD transfer! So bad it's good - and it doesn't get any worse than this double feature.
TOMBS... is the better of the two films by far, with the typical heroes and heroines doing the stupid things that get them in trouble. The real stars are the Templar zombies, cursed to ride in slow motion on zombie horses. They can't see, see? So being the blind dead, they find their victims through the sound of a heartbeat. There's a great hopeless ending and then you flip the disc.
I like the setting of RETURN... better than its predecessor, but it's basically the same film. The use of some of the same actors (some of whom died in the first) makes it a bit more tedious and the use of the same slow motion stock footage of the Templars riding adds to the feeling that you've just seen this film. And you have! Hell, it's Anchor Bay - you're probably not watching it unless it's two in the morning and you've had too much to drink, so it's all in good fun. The end of RETURN is dull and disappointing, though, and not nearly as satisfying as the end of TOMBS...
In summary, the worst of the worst; and coming from Anchor Bay that can only mean five stars."
See no evil?
Daniel A. Longworth | Las Vegas, NV | 12/23/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I caught TOTBD on Elvira's Movie Macabre back in the day and have loved it ever since. That should be all you need to know to understand how cheese-y the movie is (for you younger folks, this is the kind of movie you'd see lambasted on Mystery Science Theater 3000). Of course, it's tasty cheese and it has aged rather well.
The quality of this DVD presentation is very good; however, after paying around $30 when it first came out, I have seen this DVD offered much cheaper at brick and mortar locations in recent years. If you can't find a cheaper copy locally and absolutely must have one, I guess you'll have to bite the bullet and order here.
The movies hinge on the Knights Templar, who were actual, historical figures & the original proponents of the (European) War on Terror. Though they lost many battles throughout the Crusades, the Templars became so wealthy & consequently so powerful that they began to challenge the rule & authority of European monarchs. The monarchs eventually conspired against the Templars, charging them with heresy. Templar leaders were prosecuted & subsequently executed, causing the organization's dissolution. Though the heresy charges were largely false concoctions, the sordid allegations make for a much more interesting premise on which to build a horror movie.
To his credit, de Ossorio's decision to exploit the more diabolical aspects of Templar mythology pays off. The overall concept is brilliant, though it just begs to be remade with more money and better effects. The coolest, most unique features of TOTBD are the genuine, on-location castle ruins & the eerily undead Templars riding horseback in slo-mo. Conversely, it's most annoying & inexplicable how apparently in Spain day turns to night in a matter of about fifteen seconds and yet the dead of night looks just like noon! Watch it; you'll understand what I mean.
The movie has creep factor galore (one creep in particular being a leacherous, necrophile mortician's assistant), but few genuine scares. It's also subtitled, as I recall, so be warned.
Sadly, ROTBD is much less effective. Forsaking the castle ruins, the Blind Templars instead attack a neighboring village. The less creepy environs make for a less creepy movie. Still, if you're a fan of B horror movies (and why wouldn't you be?) this double feature is a great way to spend an evening. Even if it's an inexplicably sunny evening..."
Cult Classic Euro Zombie horror is a true classic
O. Khan | Cambridge, England United Kingdom | 02/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Old fashioned Euro horror absolutely dripping with wonderful Hammer-esque atmosphere. The cheesy acting only help add to the bizarre happenings on screen. There is a bit of titillation (no pun intended) thrown in just to give it that extra euro-trashy flavour....but its the Templar Zombies that rule...they are about as menacing and horrifying as Zombie's have ever been. Also outstanding is the haunting, chilling discordant soundtrack - very influential on stuff like The Omen which followed a few years later. The sequel on the flip side is a far weaker outing altogether.....now one can only hope that Anchor Bay get their hands on the next installment of Templar Terror. This is a must for genre fans......Portugal/Spain's very welcome contribution to the annals of Terror Movies. Epic Zombie stuff. The transfer is a touch hazy as can be expected of such a low budget film and one that is also fairly old. One sometimes has the impression that Elite's laser transfer was at least as good if not better."
The first two appearances of Ossorio's blind dead Templar Kn
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD offers up "Tombs of the Blind Dead" ("La Noche del terror ciego") and "Return of the Blind Dead" ("El ataque de los muertos sin ojos"), which comprise the first half of writer-director Amando de Ossorio's four-part horror masterpiece about the undead Templar Knights that emerge from their tombs and move ever so slowly after their victims. When you watch these films you might be reminded of Richard Pryor's joke about how the mummy is coming so, "Walk away! Walk away!" But Ossorio knows how to work the atmosphere with his creations despite being handicapped by having neither the time nor the money to make better movies.
"Tombs of the Blind Dead" begins 500 years ago when the Templars were sacrificing virgins and drinking their blood. Eventually the locals attacked the Templars, burning out the eyes of the knights before burning them at the stake. Ever since then no one goes near their castle, that is until Virginia White (María Elena Arpón) hops off a train in the middle of nowhere and ends up spending the night there. That night the Templar knights, skeletal corpses dressed up in armor, rise (slowly) from their tombs and follow the sounds of Virginia's screams. The trick is to stay silent so the blind Templars cannot hear where you are, but it is difficult to stay quiet when these things are after you. When Virginia's dead body is found her friends Betty Turner (Lone Fleming) and Roger Whelan (César Burner) decide to find out what happened to her. This is where they learn the legend of the Templars and then go off to investigate the castle, thinking that maybe somebody is using the local tale as a cover for criminal activity. This explains why they drag along local smuggler Pedro Candal (Joseph Thelman) and his girlfriend Maria (María Silva), to investigate the place, which only gives the Templars more victims to pursue (slowly).
Ossorio is all about atmosphere, so what stands out here is the thought of these shuffling corpses coming after you while the young women who are about to die take terms trying not to make a sound and then screaming all the way until the end. There is usually some blood at the end, but "Tombs of the Blind Dead" is more about spooky atmosphere. You just have to remind yourself that this film was made in 1971 and not judge its slower pace by the standard of contemporary horror films. Actually, this is the 86 minute dubbed into English version of the original 101 minute Spanish film. What has been cut from "La Noche del terror ciego" is the nudity, a rather chaste lesbian love scene, the bloodier parts of the flashback, and one of the more gratuitous rape scenes of all-time. The edited flashback is actually the prologue for "Tombs of the Blind Dead."
The most interesting thing about "Return of the Evil Dead" is that while it is a sequel it stands on its own. That is because it seems the rules of the game have changed somewhat, although they are certainly still compatible. This second film begins with what happened to the Templars in 1473 when the local villagers got tired ot the knights sacrificing virgins and drinking their blood. Now it is the 500th anniversary of when the Templars were burned at the stake and the villagers are celebrating their victory, including burning Templar manikins at the stake. Barricading themselves inside a hacienda are a small group of people trying to survive, including Jack Marlowe (Tony Kendall), who showed up in town to provide fireworks for the celebration, his old girl friend Vivian (Esther Roy), and the corrupt mayor (Fernando Sancho). The mayor keeps calling the governor for help, but the governor's mistress keeps telling him that everybody in the town is drunk because of the big celebration, so they are on their own.
Consequently, this 1973 film ends up being a lot like "The Night of the Living Dead," where you have people holed up someplace surrounded by a bunch of slow moving monsters (Ossorio dismisses the comparison because it is a commonplace of horror films). In this dubbed English version the Templars simply rise from their tombs, get on their horses, ride into town, and start slaughtering the locals. However, if you see the slightly longer original version, "El ataque de los muertos sin ojos," there is a scene where Murdo (José Canalejas), the creepy looking guy in town, makes a blood offering to raise the Templars from the dead (and this time there are easily twice as many as in the first film). I found this to be the best of the four films and while none of them are great, they are pretty good when it comes to taking the relatively simple idea of the blind undead Templar knights and then creating and sustaining a spooky atmosphere on a shoestring budget.
Be aware that there is a new 5-DVD set with all four "Blind Dead" films plus a disc that has a brief documentary about Ossorio and some rare interview clips, was released this month. The advantage of the set over this one DVD is that you get both the dubbed English versions and the original Spanish versions of both "Tombs of the Blind Dead" and "Return of the Blind Dead," with the latter being preferred, even if you have to read the subtitles. These were followed by "El buque maldito" ("The Ghost Galleon") in 1974, and "La Noche de las gavitos" ("Night of the Seagulls") in 1975. Some see Jesus Franco's 1985 film "La Mansión de los muertos vivientes" as a remake of Ossorio's first film, but I think you are on safer ground if you consider it to be definitely inspired by this entire series. One of the interesting things about the series is that most of the films can stand on their own, with the second being the best of the lot."