Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)

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*. They actually made four of these movies. It’s hard to imagine, much less rationalize. This is one of those franchises I can’t understand. It’s a bad movie. Even by ’70s Eurotrash horror standards it’s bad, and that’s saying something.
*. In other words, I probably won’t be providing notes on any of the sequels. Unless I live for a very long time.
*. What do people see in this movie? Zombies with swords, on horseback? I’ll admit, it’s a fetching concept. But where do those ponies come from? Are they zombies too?
*. Why begin with Bette’s scream? Is that to make us think we’re watching an art film?
*. I’d heard of how slow the zombies were in this movie but I didn’t think they’d be that slow. Though there is no continuity attempted, as they seem to move fast enough when mounted (and how does Bette get so far ahead of them when she’s stumbling away from the monastery and they’re on horseback?).
*. In any event, this could have been a sixty-minute movie if they’d just moved at Romero-zombie speed and cut out some of the useless parts (like Pedro the smuggler).
*. The Templars got a raw deal, by the way. The accusations of witchcraft and the rest were just a cash grab by the pope.
*. Though, as is often pointed out, they aren’t called Templars in this movie but “Knights from the Orient.” It’s the same thing.

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*. It was a time of sideburns, bellbottoms, and . . . swinging? Well, the people we meet aren’t married, but they do like to swap partners in a very casual manner.
*. Who was the first creepy movie morgue attendant? Why are they always so weird?
*. There’s so much stupid horror-movie crap going on. The mannequin shop assistant closes and locks the shop door, and yet a minute later can’t open it. How is that possible? It’s a simple slide lock! Bette runs all the way from the monastery and across a field, just to fall down beside the train. And then even with the assistance of the coal-shoveler she can’t move but just writhes on the ground like a worm. And don’t get me started on why that overhead light in the morgue is swinging around. Did the morgue attendant just do that to be even more creepy?

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*. While I’m all pissed off at Bette, how upsetting is it that she’s the sole survivor? I mean, it’s because of her that the Templars slaughtered everyone on the train! Why does she get to live?

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*. There’s something unabashedly pornographic in the blood sacrifice scene, what with the babe in bondage being hacked with swords and then gang-mouthed. Porn and cheap horror are never far removed, but this struck me as weird. These zombies don’t devour flesh so much as nibble on it, in an almost erotic way.
*. In fact, that bondage scene with the girl being devoured by the knights brought to my mind nothing so much as the orgy scene from Behind the Green Door. That might as well be Marilyn Chambers shackled to the cross. Is it a coincidence that both movies were released the same year? Well, yes. But like swingers, orgies were in the air.

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*. Of course, the lesbian love dream sequence is pure exploitation, and more predictable. Not to mention entirely superfluous.
*. I wonder if you can still go to luxury coastal hotels in Portugal and request a pair of horses so you can go riding for the day. I also wonder if they still have steam trains operating.
*. What a wretched ending. Why not show us the carnage inside the railway car instead of having a series of grainy freeze frames with people screaming in the background? It wouldn’t have cost that much.
*. The bonus trailer included with the DVD, showing how the movie was alternatively packaged as a Planet of the Apes movie (Revenge from Planet Ape), was hilarious. Because . . . why not? It only makes slightly less sense than risen Templars.
*. I like the ruined castle or monastery setting. But aside from that, this is a movie that never lives up to its promise. There are no scary scenes, the editing is almost funny, the zombies are funny, and Amando de Ossorio’s direction doesn’t even make the best of the limited resources he had to work with.
*. So how about a remake? I’d be interested. And what with the name recognition this film has among cultists and an audience primed for such historical fantasies by The Da Vinci Code, I think it would do quite well. I don’t see how it could be any worse than the original.

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