The year was 1971, the country was Spain, the film, “Tombs of the Blind Dead”. Writer / Director Amando de Ossorio’s first in a series of “Blind Dead” films is flying towards my face, eyes and nose out of a portable DVD player, and all thanks to another lovely release from Blue Underground. I am faced with the decision of whether I want to watch it in English, or in Spanish. Lovelock hates to read, but everyone unanimously hates bad dubbing, except for special cases like “Aces Go Places” a.k.a. “Mad Mission”. But that's a whole other discussion. From what I understand, there are HUGE differences between the English and Spanish versions, more than just language. Since we’re purists, let’s go original. Moving right along, let’s get this show on the road.
[The opening credits are filled with creepy music and sound effects. It looks like it was filmed after the end of the world, and then suddenly zombie hand! And SCREAM!]
Lovelock: And now we will forever remember the story of how I shit my pants during a movie’s opening credits.
I just realized that although it’s a Spanish movie, that half naked actress is clearly speaking in English.
[The two women talk and flashback to when they lived together in a dorm room.]
Starkwell: Of course. First, they’re brushing their hair and slow dancing together in their night gowns. And then they make out and touch each other all over. That’s what always happens in all dorms.
Lovelock: In Spain? Probably. I hope there’s a pillow fight or tickle fight coming up.
[Virginia jumps off the train in hot pants, jealous of her once lesbian lover’s current interest in men.]
Starkwell: It's the middle of nowhere! She doesn’t even know where she is. Not much of a planner.
Lovelock: If you can jump off of a moving train in heels and short denim shorts and walk away clean, you don’t need plans.
[She wanders into the sketchy abandoned ruins of some kind of medieval town.]
Starkwell: How many squeaky doors does she have to open before something is going to happen?
Lovelock: She just wants to make sure that it’s safe to make a fire. And take off all of her clothes. For some reason.
Starkwell: Who needs food, water, or a plan for making it back to civilization when you’ve got a little radio playing bad jazz and a good book to read by the fire?
Lovelock: That radio has pretty good reception for the middle of nowhere.
Then the dead rose up out of their tombs, and began riding on their horses. I suspended my disbelief long enough to not wonder where the damn horses came from, since it was remarkably well shot and lit, and the effects were, well, effective. Lovelock and Starkwell couldn’t do anything but sit in terrified silence as the Undead Knights chased after Virginia at an agonizingly slow pace.
[Well, Virginia’s dead.]
Lovelock: Well, Virginia’s dead.
[Roger and ‘girl whose name I don’t remember’ ride into the ruins on horseback to look for Virginia… after sleeping in and having a big breakfast. Yeah, they care for her THAT much. They run into the police.]
Starkwell: Why is the cop wearing a flower corsage?
Lovelock: In Spain, police wear flowers. And they all have mustaches. Also, they’re really old.
Well, apparently her name is Elizabeth. That’s all we’ve really taken from the last twenty minutes or so of this now slow moving epic. Oh, that and Virginia’s cause of death was being bitten by twelve different people. We know it was the Undead Knights, but they don’t. Nonetheless, at the morgue, one of the morgue workers says to the other that she was “asking for it” by going around dressed like that and flaunting her stuff. By wearing jean shorts, she was asking to have chunks of flesh bitten off, by twelve different people at the same time. This is what we’ve learned. Oh also, every scientist in Spain has a beard.
[Flashback to the origin of the Undead Knights, they are torturing and sacrificing a woman.]
Starkwell: Is it really necessary for them to cut her top off? And to show close ups of her breasts?
Lovelock: Well, yeah, how else would we know that they sliced directly into each of her boobies with swords?
[Undead Virginia goes to Elizabeth’s workshop to attack her assistant.]
Starkwell: Who would choose to work in a dimly lit warehouse full of creepy severed mannequin parts hanging on meat hooks?
Lovelock: In Spain? Many people work in dimly lit warehouses full of body parts. I mean, in the seventies, it was all the rage.
Starkwell: You really don’t know what you’re saying.
Lovelock: Shhhhhh… Undead Virginia is currently on fire.
Roger continues his investigation into Virginia’s murder. Elizabeth continues to wear different hats in every scene. The film continues to introduce more characters, and move really slow. Then there was an uncomfortably long and dragged out rape scene. Starkwell walked out, and simply asked to let him know when the Undead Knights come to kill the rapist. Minutes later, here come the Undead Knights. Instant karma’s gonna get you, Pedro.
[Undead Knights eat Rapist Pedro.]
Lovelock: I don’t know… these guys don’t seem so bad.
Starkwell: I think you’re forgetting their booby cutting roots.
[The Undead Knights eat more people, a lot more people.]
Starkwell: The fact that it doesn’t make any noise while they bite people, actually makes it a lot more horrifying somehow. What do you think?
[As the end of the film approached, Lovelock couldn’t respond. He was off in a corner crying, partly tears of joy, mostly tears of sheer horror.]
Well, the movie had some minuses. It moved slow, didn’t make much sense, and feels kind of like a high end Paul Naschy film (see: Vengeance of the Zombies). However, in the plus column, the Undead Knights are scary as hell, the visual effects have definitely held up over time, the music all throughout was both tense and surreal, and the locations used were terrifying and fantastic, seriously, like something out of a horrible dream. As a result Lovelock and Starkwell have committed to watching the entire series of 'Blind Dead' films. However, since doctors don’t recommend watching more than one of these films in a twenty four hour period, we will have to continue another time.