By Jerome Reuter
Tombs Of The Blind Dead is the first installment in Amando De Ossorio’s “Blind Dead” series. It was released in 1971, several years before the zombie craze. It’s also responsible for the Spanish horror boom of the 1970s. It’s been over four decades since the Templars rose from their crypts, to terrify many a film goer.
The story is set around a band of ghosts, deceased members of the Knights Templar–here is one of this film’s more intriguing qualities. For centuries rumors of this old order have persisted in many forms. Tales of devil worship, forbidden rituals, and blood ceremonies just to name a few. Adapting this to a horror film plays with our strange curiosity with the occult. Folklore and superstition have had a long history of being adapted to celluloid, here it’s the unknown history that gets its chance. Throughout the film, old fears and superstitions are played upon. A European film audience might have been more intrigued by this concept, than an American one.
One thing you’ll notice in all of the films, is the ability to clash old world superstition, against modern skepticism.
(The English dubbed version opens up with a re-enactment of a Templar ritual. In European versions, this sequence occurs later in the film. Also, they’re only referred to as Templars in English versions.)
The design of the Knights themselves is what helps set this film apart. Their costumes are shaded in an almost ash-like color. They have the appearance of Knights who have been rotting in the grave for 500 years, they seem more realistic than many ghouls that would appear in several zombie films years later. Whenever they appear on screen, they move like ghosts, and an eerie Gregorian chant accompanies them every time they appear.. This adds to the impression that they’re soldiers of the undead. The slow movement builds an eerie atmosphere, and adds to the fear of their victims. As the title tells us they’re blind, so they’re driven by sound. They’re driven by a predatory instinct, if they moved at a quick pace the atmosphere would be lost.
Aside from being a timeless franchise, it’s an amazing ghost story. One of which you won’t see the likes of again. Although many villains have come and gone on the silver screen, the blind dead will always send a chill down your spine.