Tombs of the Blind Dead

The Blind Dead

Knights Templar

Blind Dead

Knights Templar

Templar Logo

Anchor Bay UK

Following in the wake of George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, Amando de Ossorio's TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) was one of the more original and interesting entries in the zombie sub-genre, alongside fellow countryman Jorge Grau’s excellent LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE (1974), of course. Ossorio’s film spawned three sequels – RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD, THE GHOST GALLEON and NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS, all of which are featured in this collection.

Long before the recent hordes of hopeful Templar treasure-hunters descended on Rosslyn Chapel, clutching their copies of the ‘Da Vinci Code’, the darker side of the Templar mythos was being explored by an enterprising Spanish film director, Amando de Ossorio (MALENKA, NIGHT OF THE SORCERORS). The Knights Templar were guardians of pilgrims travelling to and from the Holy Land during the Crusades, and were also credited with inventing the modern system of banking. In 1306, Philippe IV of France, feeling threatened by the Templars’ growing wealth and influence, circulated rumours linking them to black magic and various unholy practises. Inevitably, this led to excommunication, imprisonment and execution for the Templars.

Ossorio used the rumours of Satanism, human sacrifice and blood-drinking as the starting point for his films, and created, along with make-up artist José Luis Campos, one of horror cinema’s most frightening creatures; a unique combination of vampire, zombie and ghost. The wispy-bearded (historically accurate as they were forbidden to shave off their beards) skeletal Templars in monks cowls resemble an army of Grim Reapers, and unlike any undead before them, they ride equally terrifying zombie horses. Ossorio takes the traditional concept of the slow-moving zombie even further by filming the mounted Templars in slow motion. Because they are blind, they rely on super-sensitive hearing to locate their victims, a device which serves to add more suspense to the proceedings, as demonstrated to chilling effect during the final sequence of RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD.

TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) begins the series with a dead legion of Knights Templar, who rise rotting from their graves, to exact bloody revenge on the living. The Templars were executed during medieval times for performing unholy deeds in life. To add insult to injury, they were then left to have their eyes pecked out by crows - to prevent them finding their way back to earth from Hell. Now, back from their graves, the Blind Dead hunt by sound for human flesh. The terror starts when a modern-day tourist trip to the ruins of the Templar monastery unleashes a frenzy of lesbian desire and sexual violence.

“In lots of ways these films were a sublimation of the forbidden elements – sex, religion, and politics into horror films. It doesn’t take much imagination to find in the plots of the various ‘Blind Dead’ films of Amando de Ossorio, for example, a not too subtle reference to the notion of the old Spain of the Templars rising out of its grave to strike back at the decadent young. Lesbianism and other officially defined ‘perversions’ featured in many of these films”. (Pete Tombs & Cathal Tohill - ‘Immoral Tales’).

The first sequel, RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD (1973) revives the depraved undead Knights, and has them terrorising the residents of the rural Portuguese village responsible for condemning them to death 500 years ago. The Templars attack the villagers as they celebrate the anniversary of the executions. Taking refuge in a deserted cathedral, in true NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD style, a small group of villagers are forced to fight for their very souls against the seemingly unstoppable legion of the damned. The flashback here shows the villagers burning out the Templars’ eyes, prior to their execution. The film has one of the most suspenseful climaxes in horror cinema.

THE GHOST GALLEON (1974) is probably the weakest of the four films, but its uncanny, misty ocean setting is reminiscent of Nosferatu (1922) and the legend of The Flying Dutchman. Two swimsuit models go missing at sea shortly after reporting the sighting of a mysterious ghost ship. A search party sent to find the girls discovers the grisly truth behind their disappearance when they come across the phantom galleon carrying the coffins of the eyeless Templars.

NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS (1975), continuing the sea theme - a creepy tale of a remote coastal town where frightened villagers must sacrifice beautiful virgins to the blood cult of the Knights Templar. For seven nights every seven years, these eyeless zombies rise from the sea to feast on human flesh, as the souls of the damned are trapped in the screams of gulls. We are treated to gory sacrifices involving hearts being torn out, and a touch of crab violence.

All the films feature the trademark atmospheric chanting soundtrack by Antón García Abril, in fact the whole emphasis of these films is on atmosphere, tension and suspense; factors sadly lacking in most genre offerings of late. The films look absolutely astounding, although two of them were previously available (cut) as a double bill DVD in the US, most viewers will only have seen the films on ropey old VHS tapes.

This Anchor Bay UK release presents the definitive DVD editions of these four Euro-horror classics, fully restored from original vault materials, remastered in high definition, and collected together for the first time in the UK. The collection also includes an exclusive Bonus Disc of interviews with the late Amando de Ossorio that will only be available as part of this collection. Aside from the informative interviews, one of the highlights of the extras is the alternative opening scene “Revenge from Planet Ape”, which demonstrates an attempt by an unscrupulous distributor to merge the Templar story with PLANET OF THE APES!

The four titles included in THE BLIND DEAD COLLECTION – TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD, RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD, THE GHOST GALLEON and NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS – will also be available individually on DVD, priced £12.99 each.

Special Features:

The collection includes an exclusive reprint of Nigel J. Burrell’s 1995 40-page booklet ‘Knights of Terror: The Blind Dead Films of Amando de Ossorio’.

Tombs of the Blind Dead:
Widescreen Presentation (1.66:1) Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
Poster and stills Gallery
Trailers for all four films in the Blind Dead collection.
“Revenge from Planet Ape” alternative opening sequence.
Audio – Dual Mono, Optional Dolby 5.1, DTS.
Spanish with English subtitles.

Return of the Evil Dead:
Widescreen Presentation (1.66:1) Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
Poster and stills Gallery
Trailers for Blind Dead Collection.
Audio – Dual Mono, Optional Dolby 5.1, DTS.
Spanish with English subtitles.

Ghost Galleon:
Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
Poster and stills Gallery
Trailers for Blind Dead Collection.
Horror of the Zombies US trailer.
Horror of the Zombies TV spot.
Horror of the Zombies radio spots.
Audio – Dual Mono, Optional Dolby 5.1, DTS.
English Language.
Optional subtitles.

Night of the Seagulls:
Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
Poster and stills Gallery
Trailers for Blind Dead Collection.
Audio – Dual Mono, Optional Dolby 5.1, DTS.
English Language.
Optional subtitles.

Bonus Disc:
The Last Templar – documentary on writer director Amando de Ossorio.
Unearthing the Blind – interview with writer director Amando de Ossorio.
Biographies – Amando de Ossorio, Maria Perschy and Sandra Mozarowsky.
‘Farewell to Spain’s Knight of Horror’ – an article for Shivers magazine by Mike Hodges in .pdf format, written after the death of Amando de Ossorio in 2001.