Tombs of the Blind Dead

Undead knights on undead horses? Gorgeous Spanish country-side? An ancient monastery? Loads of really bad gore?  I’ll give you one guess.

Exactly: Amando de Ossorio’s classic 1971 shocker, Tombs of the Blind Dead, about…well, about undead knights on undead horses, gorgeous Spanish country-side, an ancient monastery, and loads of really bad gore.

I’ll keep it simple: While on a leisurely train ride, a woman, scorned by the man she loves, jumps off a moving car (with nary a scratch, I might add) and spends the night in a dilapidated church. The next morning, she’s found dead. The locals believe she fell victim to the ghosts of the Knights Templar, a group of heretics relieved of their eyes and burned at the stake in the 13th century (the movie takes generous liberties with the actual history of the sect). The woman’s friends gather at the church to see if the rumors are true, which of course they are, the knights crawl from graves and sarcophagi, and…

Well, let’s just say there’s no hearty round of Frere Jacques around the campfire, although that would have made this movie even cooler. Great atmosphere, swirling fog, enshrouded horses galloping in slow motion; a nifty little flashback showing a sacrifice to the devil; and a little lesbian action for you straight boys.  Ossorio leaves nothing out, including glorious close-ups of cheesy-fake body parts being hacked into. And to top it all off, we get the infamous “train massacre,” as the knights board a locomotive car and stab everything within reach. The ending is left wide open, hence Ossorio’s three follow-ups, Return of the Evil DeadThe Ghost Galleon and Night of the Seagulls.

No true fan of horror should ever go through his life without seeing Tombs of the Blind Dead at least once, preferably on Blue Underground’s pristine DVD release, packaged in an awesome coffin-shaped box-set. For the rest of you, I pity your lack of love for 1970’s foreign exploitation.

1971; starring Lone Fleming, Cesar Burner; directed by Amando de Ossorio; 101 min; not rated; in Spanish w/ English subtitles.

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