TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) – The Dungeon Review!

I do love me some 70’s horror, especially of the European variety! This isn’t my first viewing of Tombs Of The Blind Dead, which I once owned on VHS but it has been a few years. I’m not going to tell you this is a perfect film, but it sure as hell has style. It’s a film about a legion of the Templar Knights who were executed and had their eyes pecked out by crows. And that is a pretty freaking awesome place to start!

Vacationing couple, Virginia and Roger run into an old school friend of Virginia’s named Betty. Much to Virginia’s chagrin Roger invites Betty to stay with them at a resort in the country. Virginia appears to be jealous of Roger’s flirtations with her former school chum. Then we learn through a flashback that the two women were engaged in a sexual relationship. What does this have to do with the blind dead? Absolutely, freaking nothing, but a horror film needs its victims. Both women were a little annoying, especially pouty puss Virginia. While the three are travelling Virginia has a hissy fit and jumps off the moving train they are on. She walks towards the only buildings in sight, which of course is the crumbling monastery. She decides to spend the night and barricades herself inside one of the empty buildings. You have probably guessed that Virginia’s campout doesn’t end well. After finding Virginia’s corpse the friends enlist the help of a local smuggler named Pedro who is being blamed for the death. Pedro, with his obnoxious girlfriend in tow joins Betty and Roger to investigate the real cause of Virginia’s death. Meanwhile, Virginia has risen from the dead. The film doesn’t follow through with other victims rising from the dead though. It’s a one-time offer, but they do give zombie Virginia some mileage. After killing the mortician she heads to Betty’s mannequin studio where her assistant is working alone. The scene ends with the undead Virginia’s body slowly burning to cinders. It is actually a very cool scene even if it did feel a bit out of sorts with the rest of the films vibe. The characters make questionable decisions and the dialog is downright daft at times, but it does provide some entertainment. My only real complaint is this side story takes up more screen time than it should. However, director Amando de Ossorio definitely compensates for the films lesser traits with the Templar Knight part of the story.

Amando de Ossorio directs with heaping piles of mood and style. Tombs Of The Blind Dead has a killer atmosphere. The crumbling old Templar Monastery is awesome! Grave markers shake and a fog gathers as the dead rise. Their bony hands reach out for their prey based only on smell. Their slow movement actually makes sense; after all, they are blind! The knights are decaying corpses resurrected through sacrifice by Satan himself. They are present only to serve their dark lord. The rotted remains of the Templar Knights hidden beneath hooded robes mounting their ghostly horses are a thing of beauty! It is a bit of a shame we don’t get to see the Knights more often. Tombs Of The Blind Dead is not without an exploitative edge. The flashback scenes of the Templar Knights before they were the blind dead add a bit of nudity and torture to the proceedings. Men on horseback circling a bound woman each whipping her exposed flesh as they pass. There is a lesbian love scene, a catfight, a rape and a bit more nudity included for good measure. The film ends on a lively note with room for a sequel. There is carnage and blood spill, but If you are looking for a gorefest you will probably be disappointed. Like a lot of European horror it moves at a little slower pace but compliments the films mood. The soundtrack featuring the chanting and moaning Templar Knights is the icing on the cake. As far as inspiration for zombie walk is concerned I give it top marks. Monk robes are an inspired choice for costuming! Whether you are able to give yourself a skeletal look or just cover yourself with ugly sores you are going to be a standout in a sea of zombies!

The DVD’s special features showed some great images of promo material for Tombs Of The Blind Dead. Advertising that the film “Makes Night Of The Living Dead look like a kids pajama party” and “Makes Mark Of The Devil look like a fairy tale”. There is also an alternate opening scene where the film was marketed as Revenge From Planet Ape to cash in on the success of The Planet Of The Apes. It’s damn amusing, so check it out if you rent or buy this one. If you dig the flick you will be pleased to know this is the first in a quartet of blind dead films that includes Return of the Blind Dead (1973), The Ghost Galleon (1974) and Night of the Seagulls (1975). This first entry is my favourite of the quartet although its follow up and Night Of The Seagulls are not without their charm. Be warned that the 1974 film also known as Ship Of Zombies is a weak link in the series.

Despite some issues, I enjoy Tombs Of The Blind Dead immensely every time I view it. It is well crafted with memorable, imaginative moments, an amazing atmosphere and a great exploitative vibe. Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Amando de Ossorio

Starring: Lone Fleming, César Burner, María Elena Arpón, José Thelman, Rufino Inglés, Verónica Llimera, Simón Arriaga, Francisco Sanz, Juan Cortés

5 Responses to “TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Certainly a must-see for ’70s horror fans despite its faults, as you mentioned. I recall liking the end at the train station. And the slow-motion Knights are really impressive.

  2. More people should embrace quality trash as you do.

  3. The Film Reel Says:

    I’ve heard about this one but never seen it. Sounds pretty good though and that shot of all those mannequins is creepy enough!

    • There is a boxset available with all 4 blind dead films. Probably worth having just for the novelty of it, but Tombs Of The Blind Dead is definitely my personal favourite of the four.

  4. […] ******** #10 TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD Directed By: Amando de Ossorio The premise of Tombs Of The Blind Dead revolves around a legion of the Templar Knights who were executed and had their eyes pecked out by crows. Amando de Ossorio directs with heaping piles of mood and style. Tombs Of The Blind Dead has a killer atmosphere. The crumbling old Templar Monastery is awesome! The rotted remains of the Templar Knights hidden beneath hooded robes mounting their ghostly horses are a thing of beauty! It is a bit of a shame we don’t get to see the Knights more often though. There is a lesbian love scene, torture, a catfight, a rape and a bit of nudity included for good measure. A great soundtrack and a lively ending seals the deal. To read my full review click here. […]

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