The Blind Dead Collection (1971)

The Blind Dead at the drive-in

For less than fifteen quid, I picked up Anchor Bay’s R2 box set, The Blind Dead Collection, which covers Amando de Ossorio’s 4-film series made in Spain in the early 70s. These must have been inspired initially by the success of Night of the Living Dead, and are not without their attractions: the blurb claims ‘a relentless onslaught of creepy atmosphere, shocking violence, forbidden sexuality, and the still-chilling icons of Euro Horror: the eyeless undead who hunt by sound in their quest for human flesh’. For once the blurb isn’t far off, though it fails to mention the terrible acting, dubbing and increasingly stupid plotting.

Anyway, the titular bad guys are heretic Knights Templar, who seem to get an overall bad deal in movies. The idea that you can keep quiet and avoid them is initially neat but becomes more comic with overuse.

Tomb Of The Blind Dead (1971) is the first and works very well in parts, though I’m not sure about zombies riding horses and trains. The confusingly-titled Return Of The Evil Dead (1973) starts to smell a bit like a cash-in, and the suspicion is confirmed in number 3, imaginatively titled Blind Dead 3 (1974). By this time, de Ossorio is tiring of the gore and adds a load of naked ‘models’ to the cast as well as turning the Blind Dead into seafaring zombies (maybe this would be a good idea if you did it as a comedy…) Blind Dead 4 (1975) was actually titled Night Of The Seagulls when I first saw it, and is for completists only. De Ossorio’s talent for creepiness is still apparent but he doesn’t seem bothered by plot, continuity or anything else you might take for granted.

The box set contains a fifth disk with documentaries about and by de Ossorio. The whole thing is very interesting if viewed in a historical context (Spanish film-makers seemed to go a bit nuts after Franco died, shovelling on the sex and violence for no good reason except they had it saved up; see also Josef Grau’s bizarre Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue from 1974) and if you’ve got a strong stomach and an endless supply of alcohol then this is highly recommended at the price.

The American R1 box set is a lot fancier, being coffin-shaped, and has a few extra uncut seconds but costs four times as much.

Mild Peril Rating: ★★½☆☆

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