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Tombs Of The Blind Dead Main

Tombs of the Blind Dead Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Synapse Films

Tombs Of The Blind Dead Large

Directed by Amando de Ossorio
Written by Jesús Navarro Carrión and Amando de Ossorio
1972, 101 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 24th, 2023

Lone Fleming as Betty Turner
César Burner as Roger Whelan
María Elena Arpón as Virginia White
José Thelman as Pedro Candal
Rufino Inglés as Inspector Oliveira
Verónica Llimerá as Nina
Francisco Sanz as Professor Candal

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In the 13th century, Templar Knights who fought in the crusades were overrun by the powers of darkness and returned to Portugal as devil-worshipping monsters. Their murderous rampage was put to a halt when they were captured by the king and hanged from a tree where crows ate their eyes. The now-blind dead haunt the remains of their village, waiting for trespassers to make noise for them to follow to satisfy their thirst for blood. Today, a group of travelers make the mistake of spending the night in the abandoned village and awaken all sorts of trouble. Can the dead be put to rest or is a new era of terror just beginning?

For decades horror movies were banned in Spain under the rule of Francisco Franco until the end of his dictatorship in 1975. Following the success of pictures like Night of the Living Dead (1968), zombies became a global craze. Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972) is an early entry in the new wave of Spanish horror films of the 1970s. Due to Franco’s restrictions, the film was shot in both Spain and Portugal and nominally set in Portugal. Director Amando de Ossorio (Fangs of the Living Dead) had different ideas of what constitutes the walking dead and refers to his ghouls as living mummies. These cloaked skeletal figures move at a deliberate pace and, like zombies, become more of a threat as their numbers grow. What makes the blind dead unique, however, is that they ride skeletal horses and track their victims by sound.

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Working from a script he co-wrote with Jesús Navarro Carrión (Savage Gringo), de Ossorio delivers a richly atmospheric, haunting picture that is relentless in its slowly ratcheting tension. This thinly veiled allegory of clashing generations and oppressive government masterfully works its way under your skin and builds to a surprisingly over-the-top finale. The idea of these Templars returning from the grave locking in on the sound of your heartbeat is terrifying.

Tombs of the Blind Dead spawned three sequels: Return of the Blind Dead (1973), The Ghost Galleon (1974) and Night of the Seagulls (1975). Amando de Ossorio didn’t reach the same level of international name recognition as his contemporaries Paul Naschy (The Night of the Werewolf) and Jess Franco (Bloody Moon), but he has easily secured his place in Spanish cinema. His Blind Dead films remain every bit as powerful today as they did fifty years ago. The series has influenced countless filmmakers, developing a strong cult following that will surely grow with this release.

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Video and Audio:

Featuring a beautiful new restoration from the uncut original camera negative and presented in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, picture quality is unbelievably gorgeous, marking this the best the film has ever looked. Colors pop during the daylight scenes and black levels are bottomless while the darker sequences are full of detail within the shadows.

Audio options include Spanish and English/Spanish hybrid language LPCM 2.0 mono tracks. Dialogue is always clean, clear and understandable. Music and sound effects are well-balanced and the tracks are free from hiss, pops or other distortion.

Optional English subtitles are included for the Spanish language track and for the Spanish sections of the hybrid soundtrack. English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are included for the hybrid soundtrack.

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Special Features:

Both the original uncut Spanish version (101 minutes) and the recut censored U.S. cut (83 minutes) are included on separate Blu-ray discs with all of the supplements available on the Spanish version.

There are three audio commentaries included on this release, the first with film historian/author Troy Howarth, who presents a wealth of information in a conversational tone that is highly informative and definitely worth checking out.

The second commentary comes from star Lone Fleming, who shares her memories from the shoot with a number of entertaining anecdotes and production stories about the director, her co-stars and more.

The final commentary features NaschyCast podcasters Rod Barnett and Troy Quinn, also brimming with behind-the-scenes trivia and insights into Spanish horror.

Director Naomi Holwill’s feature-length documentary Marauders from the Mediterranean: The Macabre Magic of the Spanish Zombie Film (2022, 89 minutes) takes a deep dive study into this subgenre, featuring a lengthy roster of scholars. Interviewees include Night of the Living Dead co-writer/producer John Russo, The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue director Jorge Grau. Paul Naschy’s son Sergio Molina, Stiges Film Festival deputy director Mike Hostench, film critics John Martin, Kim Newman, academics Calum Waddell and Steve Jones and actors Lone Fleming, Helga Liné, Manuel de Blas, Antonio Mayans and Jack Taylor. Topics covered include the Blind Dead franchise, Paul Naschy’s Horror Rises from the Tomb, Grau’s Manchester Morgue and the work of Jess Franco. This is a highly informative, briskly-paced documentary fans of Spanish horror will not want to miss.

In the early 1970s, US audiences were going nuts for the Planet of the Apes franchise. Hoping to cash in on this craze, opportunistic producers recut the opening of Tombs of the Blind Dead adding a truly bizarre voiceover about how thousands of years ago, man rose up against an army of apes and…cut to the chase – the Templars are the remains of an army of highly intelligent apes. The picture was released with the dubious title Revenge from Planet Ape. The opening sequence of that version is included on this disc (3 minutes).

The featurette Awakening of Spanish Horror Cinema (14 minutes) finds film historian Prof. Dr. Marcus Stiglegger discussing the dark romanticism, religious overtones and Gothic horror of the Blind Dead films. This segment is in German with English subtitles.

The original theatrical trailer is included.

Also included for your dancing pleasure is Salem’s Pop “Templar Tears” music video.

A photo gallery slideshow (3 minutes) presents a collection of production stills and publicity shots.

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Movie: Fourstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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