Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)
The first and most popular film in the Blind Dead tetralogy is Tombs of the Blind Dead. Rather than a typical zombie plot, this series is about a group of Templar knights who were executed for practicing black magic. Their bodies were left out so the crows would peck out their eyes, thus leaving them the ‘blind dead’. When a group of tourists stumble across the resting place of the infamous Templars, the restless knights rise and wreak havoc. Since the Templars are blind, they hunt by sound, which gives an entirely new dimension to the idea of zombies or mummies. Oh, and they are also accompanied in the afterdeath by their zombie horses…yep, zombies on horseback.
Before I begin this review I will note that it is necessary to watch the original Spanish version of this film with subtitles, as this is the uncut and unedited version. The English dubbed version is heavily cut, and what horror fan wants that?!
Tombs of the Blind Dead, or any of the follow-up films, are not the gore-laden zombie action of either Romero or Fulci. So I don’t know why it is referred to as ‘Spain’s Night of the Living Dead’, because any comparisons are a stretch. Instead, the Blind Dead films are stylistic epics with an emphasis on atmosphere and mood. The Templars are steady and focused, contrary to the regular aimless, bumbling horde of zombies.
Now the first film in the series is not completely deprived of its gore and is certainly imbued with standard exploitation elements. But the one descriptor that really stands out in my mind for this movie, and I used it earlier, is epic. Tombs of the Blind Dead is as epic as I’ve seen in the realm of 70′s horror. Sure, maybe I’m just a sucker for zombies riding zombie horses in slow-motion to a minimalist soundtrack, but hell, it reignites my enthusiasm for these films every time. So if you haven’t seen it, rent it and get onboard.
And I might as well take this moment at the beginning of Zombie Week ’12 to point out that I’m re-watching these films to write these reviews…for possibly the fifteenth time…from this awesome box set…which just so happens to be one of the coolest parts of my collection. Yep, it’s that good.