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Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)

20 January 2003 by Gnoll No Comment

TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD


1971, dir. Amando De Ossorio
86 min. Rated PG.
Starring: Lone Fleming, César Burner, María Elena Arpón.

Review by Noel Wood

Watching zombie movies while in a drunken state at 3 AM is generally accepted practice. But watching zombie movies with subtitles is not. Yet somehow a few of us found this to be a good idea over the past weekend. well, not exactly. I mean, we didn’t know we were popping in a subtitled DVD when the whole thing started. Hell, we thought we were putting a whole different movie in altogether. But for some reason, we stuck with it.

What we got was a little Spanish language film from 1971 called Noche del terror ciego, better known to us gringos by its English name, TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD. As far as 30+ year-old Spanish zombie flicks goes, this one pretty well holds up to modern standards. It’s got plenty of blood, dismembered body parts, nudity, lesbian encounters, and of course, zombies. Blind zombies, mind you. They can’t see you, but that don’t mean they can’t kill you. Because, like Tiffany in I think We’re Alone Now, they can hear your heart beat.

    

We begin with a back story, the story of the Knights Templar. These Knights were excommunicated way back in the middle ages for their heretical ways. I guess people didn’t take too kindly to the fact that these knights liked to sacrifice young virgins, drink their blood, and leave them for dead. So when the townspeople caught the Templars, they sentenced them to death, and hung them from trees, where crows pecked out their eyes. Lovely, huh? Anyway, there’s the reason why these are blind zombies. Oh yeah, they’re also blind zombies who ride horses, making them even more dangerous.

Meet Virginia. No, not the song by Train, but the character from the movie, who we meet on a train. Neat how that worked out. While traveling with her current beau Roger, Virginia runs into an old friend, Betty. Roger invites Betty along to go camping with them, and is kind of moving in on her right in front of Virginia. This makes no sense at all, because while Virginia is absolutely mind-blowingly hot, Betty is rather plain. Perhaps Roger is as blind as our Templar Zombies are. Anyway, as an added bonus to all this, we find out the two ladies once had a lesbian relationship in their school days, and are treated to a nice flashback scene replete with the two young ladies in white gowns. Sweeeet. Anyway, Roger keeps hitting on Betty, and Virginia gets sick of it, so she decides to jump off the moving train in the middle of nowhere. Smart move, girl.

    

Virginia winds up at some ancient ruins, which she apparently finds hospitable enough to camp out in. Cue the zombies. Her presence stirs them up, and they chase her through the countryside on horseback and brutally murder her. Well, I guess that’s the price you pay for abandoning your beau and high school lover and hanging out in old run-down Abbeys. Betty and Roger go looking for Virginia, and find her mutilated corpse. They decide to investigate the situation, which of course puts them in the throes of savage Templar Zombie action.

As far as European Blind Templar Zombie movies go, this is a winner. All things considered, it holds up well for film made over three decades ago. The film gets its quota of gore and gratuitous nudity in long before those things were prerequisites in the Horror industry, but then again, this IS Europe, and Europeans have always been a little more progressive when it comes to stuff like that. Oh yeah, and don’t let the subtitles scare you off. I mean, I was able to figure out what the hell was going on, and I was drunk. Much of that has to do with the fact that the dialogue is really minimal. There are long, deliberately drawn out sequences where there’s no talking at all. You can prety much make up your own dialogue if you want to. Hell, that’s what we did.

    

Oh, and as for the zombies? They rule. For once ($1 to Terry) these zombies aren’t the result of some Government experiment gone horribly wrong. And they’ve got the full costume going on too: decked out in their tunics and chain mail, these zombies look bad ass. And since they’re on horseback, they don’t just do the Zombie Stagger™ all the time. There’s some variety here. And we all know variety is the spice of the undead.

Apparently, there’s a quartet of movies in this series. I was witness to the opening bits of the first such sequel, which happened to be dubbed in English. And then I think I passed out, because all of a sudden I remember waking up and wondering what the hell happened. Maybe I’ll eventually see the subsequent films and pay more attention to them than I did in my drunken stupor to this one. Then again, maybe I’ll just rent some Tom Arnold movies instead. The Stupids, Carpool, and Big Bully, In that order specifically, hold up to almost any movie trilogy ever made.

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