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3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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HALL OF FAMEon December 5, 2007
"Tombs of the Blind Dead" ("La Noche del terror ciego") is the first of the four films by writer-director Amando de Ossorio dealing with the Templar Knights that rise from the dead and creep, very slowly, after their victims. Five hundred years ago 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). In his horror films 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 (and the slowest monsters you have ever seen) 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 to the Templar rituals, and one of the more gratuitous rape scenes of all-time (although the part where the rapist offers his victim a cigarette afterwards before he is killed by the Templars remains for you to scratch your head over). The edited flashback is actually the prologue for "Tombs of the Blind Dead." Obviously if you can track down the existing Spanish version (which clocks in at 97 minutes for some reason) you can see the film Ossorio actually made and not this edited down version, paying the small price of reading subtitles to enjoy the film.

This film was followed by "El ataque de los muertos sin ojos" ("Return of hte Blind Dead") in 1973, "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.
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on May 24, 2004
Tombs of the Blind Dead (Amando de Ossorio, 1971)
One of the often overlooked Euroshock films of the seventies, Tombs of the Blind Dead has been finding itself a new generation of fans thanks to a DVD release and a mention in Fangoria's 101 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen. While I wouldn't go quite that far, it's got a charming naivete to it, some excellent footage, and a bushel or two of good mindless fun.
Virginia (Maria Arpon) meets her old babysitter Beth (Lone Fleming) by chance one day, and Beth ends up invited on a weekend with Virginia and her boyfriend Roger (David Hasselhoff lookalike Cesar Burner). After some sexual tension on the train, Virginia runs off to an abandoned monastery around which local legends circulate about a band of Knights Templar who survive in undead form. She turns up dead the next day, and Roger and Beth decide to investigate...
The one thing about this movie every review mentions, and rightly, is the slow-motion shots of the templars riding their undead horses. Beautiful stuff (and, as far as I know, unduplicated to this day). Sure, the slow-motion looks a little cheesy these days, but hey, the movie's almost thirty-five years old. Psychomania's cheesy, too, but it's still brilliant.
The one thing they all seem to gloss over is the painfully large plot holes, threads that go nowhere, somewhat substandard acting by a select few characters, and incredibly cheesy special effects (the fire scene's effects are only a step above those of a similar scene in the shoestring-budgeted TV series Night Gallery). Still, there's enough good stuff in here to make it worth a rental, and the ending (the style of which was borrowed from a certain similar horror film released a few years earlier) is un-Hollywood enough to be refreshing to even the most jaded horror film fan. Turn your brain off for a hundred minutes and just enjoy the undead Templars riding their undead horses in slow motion. ** ½
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on September 17, 2001
I saw this movie in the cut german version some 10 years ago as a kid and was frightend. Well, after finding out there was an uncut, non-dubbed version available I had to get it. I can recommend this movie, even though some scenes are so dull (Knowing a girl was sacrificed there, 4 people spend the night at the monastery)and the templars are so slow ( yet they get everyone they want), because it got atmosphere and the rare templar scenes are somewhat frightening. It seems the only cut out and now put back scenes are the nude scenes - and they aren't very spectacular.
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on May 22, 2000
"Tombs of the Blind Dead" was such a success that it spawned three sequels, and it's easy to see why. The film concerns the haunting of a mysterious ruin by long-dead zombies, and the fates of a group of holidaymakers who encounter them. Many suspenseful scenes occur featuring the undead creatures, which are frightening enough as they emerge from tombs, and creep slowly towards their victims, but worse still, they soon jump onto zombie horses and gallop en masse through the night! Filmed in slow motion, these scenes are almost poetically eerie. One great moment involves a surrounded victim who has realised that the zombies are completely blind, and holds her breath in terror, only for the zombies to listen in on the sound of her frantically beating heart! The film is slightly let down by a spurious lesbian flashback, and the rape of the main heroine by a macho scumbag who is supposed to be helping her, but overall, the nightmarish atmosphere has been seldom bettered in zombie films, and the unique creations of the unead Knights Templar make this a truly original and scary film. Watch it and enjoy!
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on March 11, 1999
The first in Amando De Ossorio's Blind Dead series, this is probably also the best (although Night of the Seagulls, the last one, is close). Some slow moments featuring the thoroughly unlikeable characters detract from the overall success of the film, but once the Templars come on screen, nothing else matters. These are simply some of the coolest, scariest monsters in film history. Sure, they're slow, but there's so many of them that hunting down their usually stupid prey is no real challenge. Aside from the monsters themselves, there's a really great sequence (seemingly inspired by Mario Bava) in which one of their victims returns to life, kills her animal torturing morgue attendant, and stalks another woman through a red neon lit warehouse full of creepy mannequins. While the film is a bit too long at 104 minutes, there's more than enough great visual moments, coupled with truly terrifying music and an incredible apocalyptic ending, to make this a minor classic of its genre. See it, or the Templars may come for you...
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on August 22, 2001
This movie should be called "Tombs of the Very Slow Dead". Not only were the zombies slow, but the whole movie as well. The protagonists were slow, the dialogue was slow, the scenes were slow... And shots of zombies on horses were even in slow motion (as if things were slow enough). There were a lot of long scenes of actors walking from point a to point b. Plus a lot of dumb decisions, like backing into a corner when being pursued by sluggish zombies (instead of running or putting up some sort of fight). Even the flash back about the Templar knights were slow. So was their tedious satanic blood ritual. I watched much of this movie in fast forward, and it was still slow...
The only terrifying part about the movie was the lead actor's bad Euro trash style...
If you can't tell, I hated this movie...
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on March 12, 1999
A horror classic! A bit of an exploitation film, too: there's a rape sequence by some pirates that's a bit offensive as it serves no purpose whatsoever; but then neither does the lesbian love flashback, and that's quite funny. But hey, you want to see this film for the creatures. The blind dead move laughably slowly as they shuffle after their victims, but you don't care because they look so damn cool (especially on horseback). This movie has an atmosphere of doom that today's big-budget slasher flicks can't even come close to touching. Wonderful creepy fun.
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on July 29, 2001
A bunch of kooky devil-worshipping templars start feeding on virgin blood to forge a dark pact of immortality. Later, the villagers turn on them and poke out their eyes. But of course, they live on---as blind rotten ugly zombies. Boy, that was sure worth the prize of their SOULS!!!! Anyway, a pretty, long-legged girl stumbles into their burnt-out keep, and they attack her, because she has invaded the Tombs of the Blind Dead. They're kinda testy that way. The girl dies, and it's quite a waste, and then the blind dead move on to confront....the world!
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on June 29, 2002
apparently there is a whole 4 or 5 part series of these movies concerning the Knights Templar, this review is only concerning part 2, commonly know as "Return of the Evil Dead" although I believe it has another title which I am unaware of. The original is a true horror classic. Shocking, terrifying, brutal and so richly atmospheric it makes you want to smile just listening to the erie gregorian chant opening score. The sequel, which I just saw on a very poor VHS version, is very subpar. I had heard that this was the most terrifying of the series but what I saw was bland at least. There is little to no reference to the original movie. The knights look the same but under the exceedingly poor lighting it is very difficult to see them. There are several attempts at low-brow humor which fall completely flat and serve only to ruin the atmosphere of the proceedings. While the film is not without it's moments (the scene in which the little girl wanders among the Templars uttering "daddy" is so suspenseful) they are few and far between. There is little gore and the ending is totally without explanation. However, the film builds on such a rich mythology that it is impossible to completely dismiss it. Also, it is, thankfully, missing the horid mysoginist and exploitive touches that made the original so hard to stomach. Yes, there is a rape scene, but at least in this film the woman is saved before the deed. Anyone know where the other films can be found?
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