Tombs of the Blind Dead
Who are these unholy savages who hunt out their victims by sound alone?
Year of Release: 1972
Also Known As: The Blind Dead, Tombs of the Living Dead, Crypt of the Blind Dead, Night of the Blind Dead
Running Time: 97 minutes (1:37)
Director: Amando de Ossorio
Lone Fleming ... Betty Turner
Cesar Burner ... Roger Whelan
Maria Elena Arpon ... Virginia White
Jose Thelman ... Pedro Candal
Veronica Llimera ... Nina
Maria Silva ... Maria
In 1971, director Amando de Ossorio created what horror fans worldwide consider to be Spain's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. In Ossorio's nightmare vision, a legion of Knights Templar - executed horsemen whose eyes have been pecked out by crows - rise rotting from their graves, hunting only by sound in a quest for human flesh. The BLIND DEAD saga begins here, as a modern-day tourist trip to the ruins of the Templar monastery unleashes a frenzy of lesbian desire, sexual violence and the unholy onslaught of the eyeless undead!
Tombs of the Blind Dead, remindin' us that once you've been excommunicated by the church, it's pretty much impossible to find a good dry cleaner. These guys're never gettin' into a restaurant with a dress code, that's for sure. An speakin' of people that'd leave us all dead an rottin' in the ground if looks could kill, these Spanish women're just a teensy bit on the fickle side. In the movie, one of 'em actually tells the another to "forget about your friend and focus on your work," just hours after said friend was found lookin' like she died from torture inflicted by a pack of clothing irons gone haywire. Must be all those love 'em an leave 'em Italian tourists passin' through town that made 'em this way. One day they're winin 'em, dinin' 'em, an callin' 'em their spicy little meat-a-balls, an the next thing the woman knows she's wakin' up to the sound of a 1972 Maserati Bora gettin' outta Barcelona faster'n World League Football. It's pretty depressin' when you get right down to it, all you can hear from any given direction is furious, sobbing women an "Farewell and adieu, Spanish Ladies" blarin' over some sleazy paisano's 8-track player. No wonder Lone Fleming don want anything to do with men in this movie, buncha mean spirited Guidos. They're prolly all just bein' jerkolas to these Spanish chicks cause Sophia Loren wouldn't spit on 'em if their mustachios were on fire. It's just a theory, but I'm pretty sure I'm onto somethin' here. I suppose it *could* be Spanish guys makin' their loins freeze up like an Antarctic research station toilet, just look at how Columbus strung Queen Isabela along, or the fact that Mandy Patinkin's word as a Spaniard is about as worthless as a wonder bra on a figure skater. Maybe it'd be easier if you women were just suspicious of anybody that's tall, dark, an handsome that rolls their r's. That's prolly what I'd do if I was you, after I finished fondlin' myself, I mean. In all seriousness, I really would fondle myself. But equally serious and far more important, is the fact that Tombs of the Blind Dead is easily the greatest Spanish horror film ever to feature Templars dressed in KKK uniforms comin' back from the dead centuries after their executions so they can have Grim Reaper tailgate parties every night, and consequently, has a whole lot to teach us. First thing I learned from this one is that Spaniards hate frogs. They're also not real fond of the French. Second, Spanish libraries apparently have a serious epidemic of people tryin' to come in after hours. Big babies. Asian libraries have to keep armed guards on staff to evict the teenagers every night. An third, the armpit rain in Spain is nothing short of terrible.
But the thing that really pissed my grits about this one is somethin' I'm sure you've all seen a hundred times in countless movies, but that nobody ever addresses. Anytime a character in a movie (an I mean ANY kind of movie, be it a Chuck Norris explodin' bamboo movie, an Al Pacino tommy gun all the pigs movie, or your average zombies're tryin' to eat everybody's intestines like a string of sausage links kinda movie), runs outta bullets, they THROW THE GUN AWAY. Who told 'em this was a good idea? Were those the last bullets on Earth? Does the fact that this gun has run out of bullets at this very moment mean that it'll never be of use ever again? Are these some kinda disposable one time use only guns that seize up when the last bullet in it exits the barrel? Maybe the gun's just gotten sweaty from all the psychological tension an wriggled itself free like the one ring slippin' outta Smeagol's loin cloth? Is it that they feel betrayed by the gun because it went empty on 'em at a crucial moment? (If the shooter is female I suspect this theory to be the reason). I just can't get my head wrapped around this, an the worst thing about it is that when the guy throws the gun away like a fat girl's phone number, there's almost always at least one corpse nearby that's gonna be traced back to 'im cause the ignit's finger prints're all over the goll durn gun that he just couldn't manage to put back in his pocket. Don'tcha think these guys must feel just a bit special a few days later when they're rootin' around in their glove box lookin' for a ketchup packet an find the extra clip they stashed? Or when they head into a sportin' goods store to replace the gun an notice all these boxes of ammunition behind the counter? What the heck is wrong with these people? An whaddya suppose happens if they're in a fire fight with somebody using the same caliber they are an the second guy's gun jams? Second guy's effectively screwed, at least until the first guy runs outta bullets an throws their gun at 'em, at which point the second guy drops the clip outta their jammed Uzi an stick it in the one that just whizzed by their head like a Randy Johnson fastball an pretty quick Charles Darwin takes over. How come nobody in these movies ever stops to think about this? Am I expectin' too much of action stars an B movie actors? This is all just too ridiculous to think about any longer, I'd better change gears before I end up gettin' arrested for throwin' bricks at the headquarters of the national screenwriters' guild again.
The movie begins with a coupla caliente madres (Betty an Virginia, old schoolmates) crossin' paths at the local swimmin' pool where they make awkward small talk til Virginia's boyfriend who looks like Ponch from CHiPs spots 'em chattin' an starts schemin' to get a menage a tres. So Ponch invites Betty to come along on their campin' trip with 'em while Virginia furiously makes the ix-nay gesture just outside of visual range til Betty agrees to come along an Virginia shoots Ponch this look like he's not gettin' his churro near 'er ever again. The next day they all board the train together an once it takes off Betty gets up an starts goin' through 'er bag to find 'er lip gloss or somethin' an the train ends up jostlin' 'er right onto Ponch's longaniza. Virginia's P.O.'d, an heads for the back of the train where she stands around fumin' like a 1971 Chevy Nova that ain't had it's oil changed in about six years til Betty comes out an butters 'er up with a buncha nostalgic flashback scenes from their highschool years when they used to spend all their time makin' out an thinkin' outside the cocks. About that time, Ponch comes out an catches 'em huggin' an starts thinkin' his plan's gonna be even easier'n he thought til Virginia slinks off an decides to Throw Drama from the Train. Ponch an Judy start screamin' at 'er as the train fades into the distance but Ponch ain't about to try that jump 'imself while he's havin' such a perfect hair day an pretty quick the train leaves Virginia to 'er own devices. Which she's prolly got in ready supply in 'er campin' gear. So Virginia wanders the Spanish countryside til she comes to a buncha old abandoned ruins an starts lookin' around to see if Anthropophagus is home til she gives up an finds a nice cushy spot where she can bed down an pretend not to be bothered by the fact that she didn't pack any food. Meanwhile, the tombstones in the cemetery next door start shakin' like Beyonce's butt cheeks an pretty quick the fog machine kicks on til the place looks like they're about to start shootin' the Thriller video. Then all the tombs start openin' up like the wrists of Denver Broncos fans durin' Super Bowl XLVIII til the place's got more Grim Reapers than a tarot card factory. As if that wasn't bad enough, then the forty horsemen of the apocalypse show up an when Virginia opens up the shudders on the window she finds 'erself face to face with a Children of Bodom album cover an heads for higher ground. Unfortunately, the high heel pumps she chose for the campin' trip unexpectedly turn out to be a bigger pain in the ass than a penicillin shot when she gets one stuck in an old rotten staircase an she almost gets caught by the ungrateful dead before she's able to get up the stairs an out onto a balcony.
Once she realizes she's cornered, she fashions a crude rope out of 'er armpit hair an climbs down to a conveniently stray horse an pretty quick we've got a Flight to the Ford sequence straight outta Fellowship of the Ring as Virginia's pursued by the Ringworm Wraiths, unfortunately, Virginia has no elves backin' 'er up, an she's eventually overtaken an overeaten. Back in civilization, Ponch an Betty're tryin' to figure out what's become of Virginia since she failed to return home for matador role play night (that's where Virginia'd hold out 'er lacy red unmentionables an Ponch'd paw at the carpeting, snort, an charge after 'er around the room while she giggles). So they rent a couple horses an head out to the ruins to make sure she ain't gone all Donna Quixote on 'em an gotten into an adventure she can't handle, only when they get out there the place's quieter'n the audience at a Two and a Half Men TV tapin' an pretty quick their horses get a call from their agents tellin' 'em they landed roles on Bonanza an they get outta there quicker'n John Wayne at a vegetarian buffet. So after Ponch an Betty wipe the "crap, there goes my ride" look offa their faces they investigate the ruins some more an find Virginia's sleepin' bag an one of 'er go-go boots before runnin' into these two cops that're dressed like accountants that tell 'em to get their hineys down to the morgue so they can Meet Virginia. So they head down to the morgue where this guy that looks like the love child of Saddam Hussein an Tattoo from Fantasy Island gleefully pulls the sheet offa Virginia an... ick. Looks like the Ring Wraiths turned 'er into Virginia Slim Pickins, girl's got more bite marks on 'er than a masochist at a gothic nightclub. Later that day, Betty heads out to 'er mannequin factory where they assemble all the female journalists from Fox News an discovers that her assistant (Nina) was born in a village not too far from Casa del Reaper. So once Ponch shows up they interrogate 'er like a Gitmo prisoner til she tells 'im the legend about the Templars bein' excommunicated for worshippin' Satan an hauntin' the place after the Pope used Holy Nova to wipe 'em all out. Back at the morgue, Saddoo's playin' with his frog (not a euphemism) when all the sudden Virginia's corpse gets its second wind an fashions 'erself a toga outta the corpse tarp so nobody'll see 'er zomboobs an does the Ickey Shuffle over to his work station where she proceeds to chew the fat.
The next day, Ponch an Betty head down to the library so they can look up "excommunicated" in the dictionary when they run into this dusty old librarian who's kept around purely for atmosphere an ask 'im about the Templars. Like any lonely old man, his eyes immediately light up like like a 'Murican in the neonatal wing of the local hospital an proceeds to tell 'em about how the Templars took over the now ruined city an started sinnin' like there was no tomorrow. While he's talkin', we get to see a flashback sequence where the Templars strap this blonde slice of cheesecake to one of the Forbidden Zone boundary markers from Planet of the Apes an start carvin' 'er up like a public park bench til she's leakin' like a cracked radiator an everybody rushes in an starts drinkin' 'er blood like a buncha overzealous Anne Rice fans. I'm not real clear about how they made sure all the sacrifices were virgins unless they were only slicin' up the ugly women, but Satan was still pleased with their offerins since it's really the thought that counts. Unfortunately, after a while the King of Spain got tired of all the ugly guys in town bitchin' about how there wasn't any action an so he went in an killed all the Templars an made 'em eat crow. Then he made all the crows eat Templar cause it's real goll durn hot in Spain in the summer time an he didn't feel like diggin' all those graves. Then one of the cops from the ruins comes outta the shadows after doin' some heavy duty eavesdroppin' an asks the librarian about his kid's smugglin' operation an its convenient proximity to the ruins an the librarian gets this look on his face like he's just dredged up painful memories about his offspring not wantin' to follow in the family's proud librarian lineage an ends up face-deskin' like John Boehner after havin' one scotch too many. Elsewhere, Nina's pullin' a double over at the mannequin factory an thinkin' about how all these well endowed, perky plastic creations're settin' an unfair standard for REAL women to live up to when zombie Virginia shows up an tries givin' Nina a sunroof til she's able to get to the door. Unfortunately, she can't seem to figure out that it won't open so long as she's got 'er foot stuck in front of it an ends up havin' to shove 'er desk at the zimbo, resultin' in 'er propane camp stove slidin' off onto the floor an roastin' Virginia's zombits like a rotisserie chicken.
Meanwhile, Ponch an Betty take a boat out to the thieves' den where the librarian's son (Pedro) smuggles bootleg Beanie Babies an asks 'im what he knows about the ruins. At first, Pedro just kinda crosses his arms an gives Ponch this "if you don't know I'm not gonna tell you" kinda look til Ponch tells 'im the fuzz thinks he's knockin' off yuppies an usin' the Templar legend to cover it up til he convinces 'im to go have a slumber party with 'im in the ruins so they can figure out what's goin' on an talk about boys. So Pedro packs up his other pair of leopard print speedos an his swamp donkey (Maria) an they all head out to the ruins to tell ghost stories. Only when they get there Pedro an Betty go out for a walk an Maria starts tellin' Ponch all about how Pedro's gonna be doin' the horizontal Flamenco with Betty within five minutes cause there ain't a woman alive that can resist his magnificent pit stains an that he may as well start playin' the bad cop an come seize 'er assets. Ponch is a little leery since you can pretty much smell this broad's gonorrhea even though the TV screen, so he takes 'er for a walk to see if any of 'er crotch rot'll waft away in the breeze before he approaches the landin' strip. While that's goin' on, Pedro decides he'd like just once to experience sex with a woman whose mustache is thinner'n his, only Betty's totally grossed out on account of 'im havin' the wrong equipment an Pedro ends up rapin' 'er without ever botherin' to lower his pants. Oh that's nice, now she feels REAL special. It's bad enough when men don't even take their pants completely off, that was just un-fuggin' called for. But anyway, the rest of the movie don't much care for Pedro's treatment of women anymore'n I do an it starts bangin' the church gong like Chuck Barris while Betty takes off to find Ponch. About that time all the skellies start crawlin' outta their holes an stumblin' awkwardly towards the coffee pot when they notice Pedro all up in their crypt an proceed to make gazpacho out of 'im. Betty eventually finds Ponch an forgets to mention the tiny detail about Pedro not bein' at all worth helpin' as she an Maria head for safety. So Ponch goes to save Pedro, only to find that his bullets are about as useless as Bill Nye's attempt at debatin' a creationist an pretty quick Ponch has to run like... well like Nye prolly had to when that debate in Kentucky ended. He's able to get back to home base, only Maria's P.O.'d at Betty on account of Pedro never gettin' that forceful with her an they end up rollin' around on the floor tearin' at each other like they're at J.C. Penny vyin' for bras in the discount bin. Sorry Ponch, keep on knockin', but you can't come in. Unfortunately for Ponch, the door is barred from the inside, an since the ladies can't be bothered to quit tryin' to scalp each other, he ends up gettin' his arm hacked off like a Jewish foreskin by the time Betty gets the door open an he collapses inside with a lotta undead company in tow. Will cut it here to preserve an especially enjoyable ending.
Ended up having to watch both the English version and the Spanish version of this one cause pausing it every single time I need to take notes is impossible when you've gotta be reading the subtitles. Thing is, the Spanish version has FOURTEEN MINUTES of movie that's cut from the English version and cutting that much of the movie out of the review just isn't gonna fly. In reality, probably 11 of those 14 minutes were all just plot dialog, but it's all dialog that makes the movie a whole lot more coherent. That said, the English version completely pussed out and cut all the nudity, a significant amount of gore, the gratuitous rape scene (which isn't really a big loss), the severing of Roger's arm, the majority of the early flashback scene that makes it clear the main characters used to fuzzy rub and any dialog that might suggest that was the case. So basically what I'm trying to say is the English version is garbage, and actually bears a PG rating after all that scissoring. Editing, I mean. The female characters were scissoring. All the extra dialog does make the Spanish version a bit slower, but because it's no longer choppy, it's totally worth the minor slow down. And I do mean minor. Those extra scenes, or extensions of scenes, cause even less of a slow down than they might in other movies due to the great shooting locations the movie utilizes. There's probably an extra minute or two of nothing particularly significant that take place in the ruins early on, but because the ruins are pretty interesting, it's not really a detriment. The really pathetic thing is that it's abundantly clear what's happened (as far as actions go) even with the cuts because they didn't cut enough to adequately conceal it. I mean, it's pretty clear the girls were about to engage in some heavy petting before they cut away just by the way they were looking at each other. Even beside the fact that it wouldn't be worth putting that flashback shot together for the 12 seconds that actually made it into the movie. The rape scene is even more apparent, cause when the camera cuts the first time there's no sign of it coming, and when it returns to those characters, the girl's straightening her shirt and she suddenly hates the guy. That's some fine editing there, Lou, nobody's gonna be able to put these two things together and make the connection. The only other major difference is really more of a geographical one. I've noticed that many (not all, of course) European horror movies are completely linear, where American horror movies tend to start with a jolt early on before laying out the plot. The English version actually shows the Templars sacrificing the woman at the beginning of the movie and then goes to the credits, where the Spanish version begins with the credits and then shows that scene during the librarian's exposition scene. It's purely stylistic, and not all that significant, but still worth mentioning. Bottom line, I'd strongly suggest toughing it out and reading the subtitles, it's well worth it to have everything make sense.
Well, lets peck this thing's eyes out and poke it with a stick once it's blinded. The plot is great, with an adequate back story to round it out during all the sequences where the Grim Reapers aren't on screen. By modern standards it would probably be considered a little slow by most, due to the fact that the genre has changed so significantly. Modern horror movies generally go balls to the wall with whatever the producers believe can out-shock the last big movie that came before it, which for me, got old in the early 2000s. These older movies tend to pace themselves more and build towards something that actually works, much as this one does. Anyway, the plot's pretty simple, but enjoyable. The acting isn't bad either, at least as far as I can tell with my complete lack of Spanish language skills. Very 70s, but pretty good. The character development isn't real hot, and it's probably safe to say that the only characters that have any measurable chemistry are the two female leads that're broken up early on, but it's low budget horror, so deal with it. Here's who matters and why: Lone Fleming (The Possessed, Evil Eye, It Happened at Nightmare Inn, Return of the Evil Dead, Death at the Deep End of the Swimming Pool), Maria Elena Arpon (El jorobado de la Morgue, The House that Screamed), Jose Thelman (Night of the Werewolf, The Beasts' Carnival, Return of the Evil Dead), Veronica Llimera (Hatchet for the Honeymoon), Francisco Sanz (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Return of the Evil Dead), Antonio Orengo (Devil's Exorcist, Devil's Possessed, The Cannibal Man, Frankenstein's Bloody Terror), Maria Silva (Devil's Kiss, The Mummy's Revenge, Curse of the Devil, The Awful Dr. Orlof), Britt Nichols (A Virgin Among the Living Dead, Les Demons, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, La fille de Dracula, Dracula contra Frankenstein).
The special effects, generally speaking, are pretty decent. Although you'd probably say it was okay for the time, the one effect that comes off pretty silly from a modern perspective is Maria Arpon's death sequence in the mannequin factory. Kinda convenient, since you've got all the mannequins right there, to light one on fire from the knee cap down and pretend it's a real person, though it's not the least bit convincing. They also show the entire body on fire, but it's done with superimposing the fire onto the actress and it pretty much looks like crap. But that's what you did in those days if you didn't actually want to light a stunt double on fire, which you couldn't really do here anyway because the actress was rather scantily clad at the time of the fire and there'd have been no way to protect the stunt double. That said, it's still pretty laughable. All the other effects, however, are pretty good. There're some really well crafted bite wounds, sword slashes, a fantastic severed arm, and even the close up shots during the virgin sacrifice where they're cutting into latex. That effect looks every bit as good as the one from Nightmare on Elm Street where Amanda Wyss's gettin' sliced up by Freddy, and this was made 13 years before Elm Street. The main event, of course, would be the Templar Knights, which look nothing short of amazing, particularly the slow motion sequences where they're riding on horseback. They're genuinely ghoulish and haunting. I'm not sure if the ratty cloth covering the horses is meant to be decayed flesh or just old rotten horse blankets, but they certainly improve the look of these creations. Without that moldy old cloth, the regular horses would've looked terribly out of place and probably killed each and every one of those dramatic scenes. The shooting locations range from fair to great. The mannequin factory is interesting, but looks like it was thrown together rather than being an actual factory. I may be wrong, that's just how it looked to me. The morgue, library, and resorts look fine but aren't particularly important to the plot. Where the movie really shines as far as the shooting locations, would be the creepy ruins, and the old European railways, and fortunately, those are the locations which are important, plot wise. The soundtrack, for the most part, is pretty good. I'm not sure what the deal with the Spanish elevator/hold music that seemed to crop up anytime Lone Fleming was seeing, or imagining Maria Arpon, but it seemed a bit silly and out of place. The rest of the soundtrack though, is really creepy, quiet, and extremely atmospheric. Very simple, but very effective. Equally beneficial were the great sound *effects*, particularly the cold, dead wind, creaky doors, and marble slabs sliding off of the tombs as the Templars emerged. Overall, it's a little dusty, but pretty decent, and a good starting point for anyone looking to get into Euro-horror, as it's pretty accessible to any audience. Check it out.