The Blind Dead Collection – movie review/s
For us horror nerds there’s something wonderful about the undiscovered country of foreign and underground horror. It’s the fact that this stuff isn’t in the mainstream that makes it so cool and desirable. Even the bad stuff is lauded because it is different and unknown. Such is the case for director Amanda De Ossorio’s The Blind Dead films, which are so different than the zombie films we’re used to that they warrant a look for that alone, but is curiosity all they can offer?
Yes and no.
The Blind Dead films are four movies that feature the revived corpses of some Satanic Templar knights as they return for blood and to give further sacrifices to their dark gods. The films, while each is set in a different location, the Templars and their story remains the same – that they were a sect of knights that had been involved in the Crusades but which had fallen from the divine path and had begun worshipping Satan and other evil gods in order to attain eternal life. In order to do this they gave ritual sacrifices and drank the blood of their victims. Eventually the surrounding area has enough of the murder and evil and attacks the Templars and kills them all and burns their eyes out. Unfortunately the knights return, hundreds of years later, to enact vengeance, carry out rituals, and just generally get up to mischief, much to the chagrin of the locals.
I tell you what, I have seen a lot, and I mean a LOT of zombie and living dead horror films and none of the creatures are as scary or as haunting as the Blind Dead. Sure, there is some cheese involved because they have terribly face skeletal hands but otherwise these are great costumes and some very good acting that adds a very palpable sense of dread to the series. The shame is that since these are the blind dead they can only catch you if they hear you but that is never played up effectively. There is a dream quality to the films, a sense of these being folk tales that makes them so effective. There is a decided lack of logic in the films that gets just as aggravating as the misogyny and attempted rape of the first three films (seriously, De Ossorio doesn’t seem to think much of the men of his country, for real), but if you can let that go and get wrapped up in the imagery, in the dread, the series is pretty effective. I really, really love that in the four films there is an arc, an ebb and flow of things where sometimes the protagonists get away and sometimes they don’t. Unlike a series like Saw, this series actually allows some to survive the wrath of the villains, something I appreciated.
Ah, but the films.
Tombs of the Blind Dead
Some silly tourists lose a pouty friend as she jumps off a train and wanders off to the resting place of the Templars. Unfortunately for her they are in a giving mood so they take her life and give it to their gods. Her friends ramble off to look for her with some local creeps in tow who know the area and end up tussling with each other and the dead and it’s not pretty.
Fun way to kick of the series with a little too much misogyny for my tastes (as if I have ANY taste for it) but it’s a creepy movie that, while full of logical manholes, is bleak and effective.
Return of the Evil Dead
The boys are back and this time to re-pay and old debt as they return to torment the village that put them to death on the anniversary of that day. Mix in a LOT of ‘70s tough guys and enough mustaches to weave a rug and you’ve got a pretty good start to the fun. Things drag a bit but man alive does it get creepy towards the end. One of the best entries in the series and a solid effort with the highest body count by far.
The Ghost Galleon
The least of the four films and with fair reason. This entry is set mostly at ‘sea’ and on a ghost ship that is notoriously known as a cheesy miniature in a small pool with lots of smoke. Thankfully there are only a handful of shots of the galleon itself from afar but the shots that you see leave a bad, bad taste in your mouth. Corny story of models in a publicity stunt getting caught up in the clutches of the sailing dead and when their rescuers arrive things don’t get much better. Some very nice mood established here and some pretty good logic – hey, they’re in coffins, let’s throw the coffins over…BRILLIANT! – but the corniness and some weird story logic at the end really kick this one in the junk. Fun but easily the cheesiest of the bunch.
Night of the Seagulls
Despite having the worst title of the series this is easily the best of the bunch and is a darn good movie. Good lead characters, another creepy setting, ancient rituals, a weird town, and them lovable baddies. Oh, and no rape AND you still get a weird man-child character, which is a staple to the series. WIN! A very solid way to end the series and definitely the alpha-dog of the films. And it makes me happy to see he ended the series on a high mark.
They are weird movies for an acquired taste but they really are some fun movies. It’s a shame that De Ossorio wasn’t a better filmmaker because with some better writing and less stock footage from the first film (of which there is a LOT) these would be complete classics. As they stand they are fun horror oddities. Creepy little side films that are not talked about much and are not that well known but which deserve to find a bigger audience. Again, in all seriousness, these are the creepiest zombies I have ever seen. EEP! Now I just wish someone would remake the series and get a better budget and better writers. That would make me smile. For sure.