Tombs of the Blind Dead (Arrow Recommends)

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: Young tourists get more than they bargained for when they wind up at an old "Knights from the East aka poor man’s Templars” monastery. Ya see, the dead Knights buried there dig on blood and human flesh so damn much that when it's around, they rise out of their graves to chow down!

"Who are these unholy savages who hunt out their victims by sound alone?"

LOWDOWN: I’ve heard so many good things about Amando de Ossorio’s 1972 Spanish/Portuguese flick Tombs of the Blind Dead over the years, seen pictures here and there, but never got around to giving it a watch… until now… tum, tum, tum! Now there are two versions of the flick out there: the original cut and the US re-edit of it with the nudity, lesbo scene, a rape and a killing with a child in the mix snipped out. Moreover, at some point the US cut was re-tooled further and renamed Revenge from Planet Ape. They added a narration and new opening credit footage "tying it" to the Planet of the Apes franchise all in the name of capitalizing on its success. In that version, the film was set in a post-Apocalyptic future and the un-dead Knights were supposed to be un-dead Apes… LMFAO! Yeah… right. Sigh…

Needless to say that I hunted down the original cut (saw it via the Blue Underground DVD which has both cuts and the Revenge from Planet Ape alternate opening). I personally don’t have a desire to see the pussyfied US version (I don't like my strong horror watered down) but I can understand how it could appeal to some as a curiosity item. All right, enough background jibber-jabber, how was the actual movie? Well, I fell in love with it. Tombs of the Blind Dead pimped my way an endearing atmospheric old-school Hammer feel, striking Gothic locations and eerie as f*ck blind un-dead baddies (you don’t see that every day – pun intended).

Speaking of the un-dead, that was one aspect that I dug about this one, the creepers were not really Zombies, but more of a mix of un-dead and vampire by way of blind men (their eyes were gouged out when executed in the past hence why they couldn't see). They not only lumbered around SUPER slowly (unless on their horses of course) but they also fed off the blood of their victims fervently (related to a ritual they did in the past). Pretty cool shit! The same but different.

RANDOM NOTE: Were their horses also specters? Where did they come from anyways? Were they hidden in a barn somewhere waiting for their masters to rise out of the ground? Somebody explain that to me. END OF NOTE.

The history behind the ghouls was badass too. The Knights of the East used to sacrifice hot chicks to some evilllll entity and through the ritual (s) got to live “forever” (they kind of got jipped on that deal if you ask me). I always get-off on films that use real life history as inspiration. Here, they took the actual rumor about the Templars (that they were in fact devil worshippers) and ran with it. Outside of that, I esteemed the unapologetic exploitation streak of the picture when it came to its sexual content. Got to love the 70’s – when nobody gave a f*ck and went for it – how I missed thee!

Add to all that loving some stylized Mario Bava like lighting, a gloomy score by Antón García Abril, one hell of a hottie in lead dame María Elena Arpón, stylistic choices that greased me right (all about that slow motion with the horses), macabre-gorgeous shot compositions (loved that nude scene with the fire in the forefront) inventive horror set pieces (that bit in that room filled with mannequins owned) and you get an ambitious and go for the throat low budget horror film, that stayed true to its obvious inspirations (Night of the Living Dead being one of them for sure).

On the flipside, the pace did tend to lag in places; some tightening up would have been swell. Then we had the gore, which looked pretty cheap. In fact if the film had more graphic violence it would have carried further impact, but I guess they didn’t have the che and ching for that jive. Finally dumb moves to serve the plot were in the house (Look a creepy and decrepit place! Lets spend the night!) but I can’t really fault the movie for that as it was part of its low budget horror charm. 

Tombs of the Bind Dead was a hit at the time (word on the street: Carpenter’s The Fog was inspired by it) and it spawned 3 official sequels, all directed by Amando de Ossorio (who has sinced passed on). They were named; Return of the Blind Dead (1973) The Ghost Galleon (1974) and Night of the Seagulls (1975). A bud of mine told me that only the second one is worth a watch, but being that this first film charmed the night of the living shit out of me, I may take on the whole franchise. We’ll see! In case you didn’t get it yet; every hardcore horror fan that appreciates the old school way of going about its shenanigans should give Tombs at least one watch!

Source: Arrow in the Head

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