Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)
By: J.R. McNamara on July 19, 2012  | 
DVD
Blue Underground | Region 1, NTSC | 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 1.0 | 97 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Amando de Ossorio
Starring: Lone Fleming, Cesar Burner, Helen Harp
Screenplay: Amando de Ossorio
Country: Spain
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Any discussion of Spanish horror must start with director Armando De Ossorio's first Blind dead film, Tombs of the Blind Dead, which in my modest opinion is one of the greatest undead films ever made. I must point out here though that even though the case of the Blue underground release says Tombs of the Blind Dead neither the English nor Spanish versions of the film on this disc are referred to as such. They are The Blind Dead and La Nocha del Terror Ciego (aka The Night of Blind Terror) respectively.

This disc features two versions of the film, and even though the story is basically the same, the two films have been edited in a different order, the Spanish one tells a slower tale which builds up, whereas the English one gives us a flashback from the Spanish one as a prologue. For the intentions of the review I will give the synopsis according to the Spanish one, which is a longer cut, and is of superior quality to the English one.

Tombs of the Blind Dead starts in a seaside resort, where sunbather, and hot patootie Virginia (Maria Elena Arpon) is reunited with her school friend, and lesbian experimenter Bette (Lone Fleming). They talk about old times and Virginia introduces her to her 'friend' Roger (Cesar Burner). Roger takes an immediate like to Bette, and the three of them decide to take a train trip to the country together. Unfortunately whilst on the train, Virginia's jealousy of Roger and Bette's flirting make her mad (though I found I wasn't sure of which one she was jealous, considering how in a flashback we see she once ate from Bette's taco truck) and she leaps off the train and heads for what she thinks is a town on the top of a small hill.

Once there though she discovers it is an abandoned medieval town, and it is protected by the blind resurrected corpses of the medieval Knights Templar, a Satanic/Egyptian cult that used bloody ritual sacrifice to extend their lives, and she is summarily executed by them. Her body is spotted by the driver's of the steam train as it passes by, but they dare not stop, and instead report it to the local constabulary when they reach their destination.

Roger and Bette decide to visit the town to find Virginia, but she is nowhere to be found. They do come across some police who inform them of Virginia's demise, and once back in town; Roger decides that he will investigate her death himself, with Bette acting as a weak-ankled deputy. The pair does some research with a local librarian Professor Candal (Francisco Sanz) who is an expert of the Knights Templar, and they discover something supernatural must have happened to Virginia, who in the meantime has returned from the dead herself. Roger and Bette team up with the professor's son who is a known smuggler named Pedro (Joseph Thelman) and his slut Maria (Maria Silvia) to finally discover if Virginia's death was murder, or indeed something supernatural…

I made a claim earlier that I believed this to be one of the best undead films ever made, and I guess I must justify myself here. The story may feel a little long winded at time, but the visuals are more than enough to keep the viewer engaged, especially in the 'dirtier' Spanish version. For one thing, the location is spectacular! The town where most of the action takes place is a strange, tight roaded little settlement that gives such a claustrophobic atmosphere that possibly makes the film.

The design of the Blind Dead is spectacular as well. They are truly creepy, with a dry, ancient rotten look and are quite different from the often goopier looking zombies seen in its contemporary films and pretty much everything else since.

I must also point out that the level of hotness of the female cast scratches at the bottom of a nine on the Bo Derek '10' scale, though my addiction to 70s looking chicks might make me somewhat prejudiced in that area.
Video
Seeing as how two different versions on the same movie from what looks to be two different sources are presented on this disc, the results are varied. La Noche Del Terror Ceigo is certainly the better in quality of the two, but both are still grainy and the colours go flat now and again, and you may find an artefact or two will randomly pop up. Still having this film in you collection in any form is better than not having it at all! The films are presented in 16x9 widescreen.
Audio
Similar story to the audio on this disc, though in this case the English one is far better, though that may be the fact that occasionally the Spanish version sounded somewhat hollow, which I concede may have been deliberate… watch it and you'll know what I mean. Either way, both are present in mono only.
Extra Features
This disc has three extras on it. The first is an alternate opening sequence from one of the renamings the film had, in this case Revenge From Planet Ape, an attempt to cash in on Planet of the Apes due to some of the Templars looking a little simian… believe it or not!!! There is also a trailer for the film, and a stills gallery which in this case has some nice shots of De Ossorio and some of the original promotional materials.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Tombs of the Blind Dead is a fun watch in any language, though if you are like me you may be leaning more towards the 101 minute Spanish version rather than the 83 minute English version, which has most of the goodness (i.e. violence and boobs) cut out of it. For fans of 70s Euro-horror this is a must have, and other horror fans could certainly benefit from having it, and its three sequels in their collection.

You may find my love of this film is not necessarily reflected in my Overall score, but this film is a much better purchase in the Blind Dead boxset, which has a doco on De Ossorio, and is definitely the better buy.

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