It is once again time for another offering of The Daily Grindhouse. This time around our latest grindhouse flick comes straight from Spain. I speak of the classic zombie flick, Tombs of the Blind Dead.
The film was shot and filmed wholly in Spain in 1971 by one of Spain’s foremost horror directors, Armando de Ossorio. His film became part of what he became famous for in the horror circles and that is his Blind Dead Tetralogy. This first film in the series I still consider the best of the bunch. While it helped bring about the renaissance of the European zombie cinema craze of the 1970’s this film by Ossorio takes on a different tack from its more gross-out and gore-laden Italian cousins.
Ossorio’s film was all about supernatural and less about zombie apocalypse. His zombies were the ressurected Templars (evil in the way the film portrays them) whose eyes were plucked out by birds during their executions by way of the gallows. The film described them as demon-worshipping knights who performed Satanic rituals to gain power and immortality (propaganda pushed by the French king of the 13th Century and the Catholic Church in Rome to paint the knightly order in a bad light). These zombie knights never did get a full explanation why they rose from their tombs during the film, but for films such as these the scant explanations were always part of their charms. One either bought into the premise in the first 10 minutes or they didn’t. I, for one, bought into it hook, line and sinker the moment the first zombie knight rose.
The film was gory but not in the flesh-eating variety most zombie flicks tended to be. Tombs of the Blind Dead in its international version also showed a lot of sexuality in some of the scenes with nudity part of the norm. The film also was quite good in establishing dread and horror by the use of a creep atmosphere not just from the dark Spanish countryside but from the way the zombies hunted. Being blind they hunted by the sound of the living victims’ breathing and heartbeat. This premise led to some very tense moments as those trying to escape the zombie knights would try to stay silent as the zombies approached their hiding places.
It’s a shame that Ossorio never got the budget to truly pull of what he envisioned with this film and the rest of the tetralogy, but for having as low-budget that he had to make them he definitely created some of the higher-quality grindhouse flicks of the 1970’s.