|THE BLIND DEAD
|Copyright 1971 Interfilme & Plata Films.
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 26 January 2008
- Betty - What is it about her that makes men spurn their present girlfriends and sleep with her? I thought maybe it was alcohol, so I drank a bottle of wine and watched the film. No good, I still did not find her terribly attractive.
- Roger - He sports muttonchops and a mullet. How could any woman possibly resist the sexual mojo? Killed by the undead knights (none of which were heard to say, "Ni!").
- Virginia - Miles and miles of sylvan countryside available and where does she decide to camp? Inside of a cursed monastery. After her blood is sucked out by the undead, she rises as a zombie. Eventually incinerated.
- Pedro - Manly smuggler who has a bad habit of addressing every woman he meets as "Chiquita." He is gnawed apart by the Templars. That is a good thing, because I kept getting confused about which woman he was referring to. It is not as if I could ask him, "Which particular 'Chiquita' do you mean?"
- Prof. Candal - He is an expert on the Templars and Pedro's father. That is a lot of bang for your buck, plotwise.
- The Creepy Morgue Guy - Once provided with a fishbowl and amphibian, he will keep himself amused for hours. Et.
- The Blind Dead - The withered corpses of a cursed order of knights, the Templars, who had their eyes eaten out by crows after being hanged. At night, they rise from their tombs and ride in search of warm blood to slake their unholy thirst.
|A listless maiden is borne into the Templar's fortress on the back of a knight's horse. Once there, she is not subjected to scullery duty or even bedchamber antics. Instead, white-garbed members of the unholy order lash the girl to an x-shaped cross. Knights on horseback then gallop back and forth past her, slashing at the screaming girl with their swords. Once enough veins are opened, the Templars cluster around the dying maiden and suck the blood from her wounds.
Not the sort of thing that most people expect at church on Sunday, is it?
With that scene from the Middle Ages behind us, the movie jumps to present day Spain. Virginia bumps into Betty while enjoying a day at the local beach resort. The women were roommates in school and haven't seen each other in years. The reunion could not have come at a worse time for Virginia's love life. She was just about to go on a camping holiday with her beau, Roger, and he immediately insists that Betty join them. During the train ride into the country, Virginia gets fed up with Roger's obvious interest in Betty. The rejected woman gathers her things and leaps off the train as it steams through an empty tract of countryside. If Betty is going to steal her lover, Virginia intends to share her sleeping bag with a good book and the great outdoors.
Except, Virginia does not make camp in the forest or meadow; she enters an ancient monastery and unrolls her sleeping bag inside one of its dusty rooms. After night falls, she builds a fire and curls up with her romance novel (which does not involve trashy friends stealing the heroine's lover). The young woman is completely oblivious to the horror awakening in the monastery's simple graveyard. Do you know what happens? Do you? Exactly right, the Templars rise from their tombs and converge on the unsuspecting victim. I love the way the undead Templars look. They are hooded figures garbed in filthy surcoats, having become little more than skin stretched over bone and skulls. The skeletal knights even ride undead steeds that are similarly afflicted. The undead Templars of the "Blind Dead" films are horrifying.
The evening that I viewed "The Blind Dead," Katie (my wife, I mention her now and then because it seems like she is constantly underfoot) made the comment that Italian zombie films were particularly stupid and she would prefer it if I would watch something else. I gleefully pointed out that this was a Spanish production about undead knights. That started a lively debate, at the end of which I was forced to move the "Divorce Clock" two minutes closer to midnight.
Previous influences that affected the "Divorce Clock" were discussions over why we need an eighteen year-old Swedish au pair and my insistence that the kids catching a dragonfly, then letting it go inside the house is a harmless bit of fun. I have yet to teach the children how to catch snakes, but I'm sure that development will be a big mover as well.
To cut Virginia's story short, the engineer and brake operator of a train spot her body the next morning. Nobody likes to stop along that section of the track, but somebody retrieves the mutilated remains. You know something that is odd? The field near the monastery appears to be freshly cut. Either the Templars are fastidious about lawn maintenance or some farmer nervously mows that field every week.
Farmers: if you are going to cut hay in a field near a cursed monastery, make sure that you are done well before sundown and pay attention to any predicted solar eclipses.
Betty and Roger spend their night in a comfortable hotel near Berzano (the monastery). After a hearty breakfast, they grow concerned about the missing third wheel and ask their waitress a few questions. The poor girl is so alarmed that she drops her tray. Nobody goes near Berzano! Now Betty and Roger are really worried. They borrow a pair of horses from the hotel and gallop out to the monastery. They find Virginia's things, and also a pair of police officers who regretfully inform the couple that their friend was murdered.
Hey, this is just like "Beaches!" Except that the Bette Midler film features a boardwalk, drops the hint of lesbianism, and completely lacks the undead Templars. Otherwise, exactly the same. Look, the dark-haired girl dies in both movies!
After visiting the morgue and playing a gruesome shell game with the twisted assistant there, Betty and Roger seek out the local expert on Berzano and its history. Professor Candal tells them all about the Templars and how they were eventually executed. He theorizes that the Templars have risen from the dead and are responsible for Virginia's death. The nutty older man begins describing undead horrors that locate their victims through sound, since they lack eyes (damn crows).
Elsewhere, Virginia's corpse is not acting at all like it should. She rises from the examination table in the morgue and chews on the freaky guy who works with the coroner before disappearing into the night. The next time we see the female zombie, she is inside of Betty's mannequin factory. Undead Virginia attempts to kill Betty's assistant, but the plucky girl succeeds in destroying the soulless monstrosity instead.
See, just like in "Beaches."
Still in search of answers to the mystery of Virginia's death (she was covered with bite marks - maybe a group of professional piranha-impersonators killed her), Betty and Roger enlist the help of Professor Candal's son, Pedro. Ahhhhhh - what? Why would you ask a smuggler to help you investigate the legend of blood-drinking undead Templars who murdered your old roommate after you stole her boyfriend? Even more confusing, why would the smuggler say, "Yes." to such a cockamamie idea?
Sealing their fate, the main characters determine that spending the night in the monastery is the best way to find out if the legends are real. The couples pair off during the night, though that does not last for long. The Templars emerge once more and Pedro finds that his knife is useless against those whose hearts are dried-out husks. Roger tries using a pistol, then flees to the safety of a barricaded room when bullets prove just as ineffective as a knife. Unfortunately, he finds himself locked outside by Pedro's girlfriend. When Betty tries to let him in, a catfight ensues as Roger pounds on the door. The undead converge on the trapped man.
The only member of the little group who escapes from the monastery is Betty (Pedro's girlfriend insists on screaming, which brings the Templars right to her). She hails a passing train, but the would-be rescuers tarry too long...
This movie is a heavily edited and dubbed version of "Tombs of the Blind Dead." Nearly fifteen minutes was chopped from the original to create "The Blind Dead" and the film suffers as a result. Lost in the editing are a bit of nudity, some important gore, and a fair amount of the story. Result: a slightly frustrated audience. Heck, the scene in which Pedro kinda-sorta rapes Betty is missing entirely. They also moved around parts of the story. The scene that opens the American version, with the girl being sacrificed by the Templars, appears much later in the original and was part of Professor Candal's history lesson. I would say that anyone who does not mind subtitles will find the Spanish version is a marked improvement over the American release.
Something that I love about the undead is how inexorable they are. The skeletal Templars move purposely toward their victims and slowly box them in. Yes, the living may be able to run away, but the rotting zombie horses are more than capable of eliminating that advantage. Once the Templars catch up, they are going to hack at your warm flesh with their cruelly rusted swords and then cluster around to suck out your blood.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Traveling across Spain by rail can take weeks.
- New York building inspectors were trained in Spain.
- You can lead a zombie horse to water, but you cannot keep its undead master from slashing you to death.
- Sometimes the best defense against evil is a flaming mannequin.
- Fog is caused by the dead rising from their graves.
- Girls: always wear sensible shoes if there is a chance you might encounter the undead.
- Women become completely helpless once a man is nearby.
- Coal is like hair conditioner in reverse.
- 1 min - They should spare a few serfs from sacrifice and task them with keeping the castle's walls free of vegetation.
- 13 mins - What? How did she end up there in relation to the locomotive?
- 28 mins - Are you screaming or giggling?
- 33 mins - Boy, you two are really roughing it on this camping trip.
- 39 mins - Before you ask: they just had an earthquake; that is why.
- 42 mins - Whoever is in charge of the dubbing should stop trying to explain stuff.
- 55 mins - The bolt on the door jammed. Damn you Murphy!
- 65 mins - Oh, nothing important happened. It is not as if a rape occurred or anything like that.
- 71 mins - "Ladies, I enjoy a good catfight as much as the next guy, but would you please open the God-damned door!"
- 79 mins - This is why you should never buy a one-way ticket.
- Engineer: "It's the brake alarm!"
Brake Operator: "Should I pull it?"
Engineer: "No, I never stop in this place."
Brake Operator: "But you heard the alarm."
Engineer: "I don't care!"
- Roger: "Our friend was murdered at Berzano."
Prof. Candal: "At Berzano? That's where the Templars' cemetery is. This is magnificent!"
Betty: "He's mad!"
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Roger: "Oh, these are the tombs of the Templars, an ancient order that worshipped the Devil in the year 1250 AD." |
Betty: "Let's go. This place is giving me the creeps and I certainly don't want to spend the night here."
||Roger: "It surely looked like the work of a sadist." |
Coroner: "Quite a few sadists, judging from the different sets of teeth marks - at least a dozen combinations. I know it will sound crazy, but I think she was the victim of a death ritual."
Roger: "Impossible. Black masses are a thing of the past, doctor."
||Prof. Candal: "The Templars took over by force and their blood rituals sacrificed every virgin girl in the village. They continued to ravage the countryside until the King of Spain conquered them and brought them to trial. They were hung and left for all to witness that witchcraft was forbidden. The crows ate the eyes out of the cadavers."
||Roger: "Where's Pedro?" |
Betty: "I don't know. I left him in the cemetery when I heard those bells!"
Roger: "All right you two, get in the room back there and bolt the door, and don't open for anyone."
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|The Blind Dead are slowly advancing on Betty, but Pedro's girlfriend (I don't know her name; it's not Chiquita) sees the undead horrors and starts screaming. She might as well be ringing a dinner bell.
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