I inherited the Blind Dead series as part of my late brother’s collection, and although it looked like it was going to be some lame Euro horror Night of the Living Dead knockoff with too much period piece crap thrown in, I forced myself to watch.
It’s mostly a lame Euro horror Night of the Living Dead knockoff with too much period piece crap thrown in. But there’s a lot to appreciate here, especially some unique ideas that probably influenced a lot of later films.
TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1972)
Generally, each installment gets the ancient history shit over with right away—and personally, I don’t even see why it’s necessary. In this first one, evil medieval cult dudes tie a woman up then slice her to drink her blood. Just to be clear, despite what I just described, this is a bloodless movie. Use your imagination. I had to.
In the modern day, vacationers go on a train trip. One chick jumps off for no clear reason then crashes overnight on the floor in a cold, old building. The friends don’t understand why, and neither do I.
Seriously??? THAT seems like a good place to set up camp?
But…the robed, skeletal zombies rise from their graves slowly with no music and chase her.
Darkness falls across the land. The midnight hour is close at hand…
This movie seriously lacks music and is also the only one in which a victim returns from the dead in traditional zombie style; she specifically pursues her friends.
Eventually we get a Night of the Living Dead style building under siege thing.
The zombies also use swords. This film needed a score so bad to enhance the visual atmosphere.
RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD (1973)
They’re blind, but somehow they found their way back again. The second film opens with another female sacrifice back in the day, but at least there’s blood. It doesn’t play coy like the first movie—there’s gore, sex, and music. Well, one constant sustained chord at least.
There’s also plenty of relationship drama, and the super slow zombies do the classic grave rising. Then they hop on their zombie horses, which make them move faster, but the film chooses to take that away from them immediately by presenting the footage in slow motion.
The characters here master the art of doing dumb shit, like standing by windows with the blind dead right outside.
The zombies crash an outdoor party on their living dead horses and wreak havoc with their swords, and then the survivors hole up in a church.
It wouldn’t be much of a movie if they didn’t manage to find a reason to go outside one after the other to get killed.
The final escape of the remaining survivors is quite reminiscent of The Birds. The film makes a better effort at taking advantage of the blind dead part here—the zombies can’t see you and don’t move unless they hear you. Silent Hill nurses anyone?
The only way to keep a child quiet and from getting scared by the sight of the zombies is to blindfold her. Blind Box?
Not a very compelling zombie flick, but better than the first.
THE GHOST GALLEON (1974)
Gregorian chant opens this film, which has one of the best dumb premises of the series. In an effort to drum up publicity for their models, an agency sends two of them out on a boat…but have arranged for it to get stuck out at sea so that their frightening experience will make the news!
The girls are “rescued” when they board an old ship that floats by. The plot of this movie proves to be very The Fog.
I love the atmosphere, and the creepy old ship setting is great. There’s also one super long scene of a chick being dragged into a crypt by the zombies.
That’s what I call dragging out a scene, but it ends with some gore, and it’s actually effective that there is no music in the scene, just her screams.
Unfortunately, it’s kind of down hill from there. The people who got the girls into the predicament in the first place come looking for them, and it’s the same old slow zombie cult chasing after them. To change things up slightly, a dude tries to perform an exorcism with a burning cross. Not gonna work, dude. That’s what racists use to vanquish black folk.
However, it all leads to a beach scene during the day in which the zombies come out of the water. Awesome.
That shit would happen again a few years later in Shock Waves. Why are zombies coming out of water so much more terrifying to me?
NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS (1975)
The medieval cult is at it again for the opener, but the series is getting edgier, so they expose the victim’s tits and graphically stab her between them.
Having shifted to the ocean side in the previous film, the series stays there for this final sequel. A doctor and his wife come to work on an isolated island and are immediately warned to leave…by the only guy in town who will talk to them. Yes, it’s a classic creepy townsfolk plot.
It took me until this final film to actually realize that each installment has its own backstory for how the zombies became the blind dead. If I’d paid more attention I probably would have determined that they are not supposed to be the same blind dead in each movie, but I can’t verify that.
In this film, the blind dead come out nightly to drag females to the beach to stab them. This seems to cause seagulls to squawk, hence the title. However, we see more crabs than seagulls in the film.
The series is numbingly repetitive at this point, with the main couple running all over the island being chased by the blind dead on their horses.
Finally, it goes once again for the Night of the Living Dead house under siege approach. Dare I say the series is just beating a dead horse at this point?
If they had just taken all the best parts of each of the four films, they could have made one kick ass film that would be as classic as Night of the Living Dead, but instead we get a fairly generic franchise.