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4.0 out of 5 stars The first Amando de Ossorio undead Templar Knights films, Dec 5 2007
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tombs of the Blind Dead (DVD)
"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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Tombs of the Blind Dead
Tombs of the Blind Dead by Amando de Ossorio (DVD - 2006)
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