Tombs of the Blind Dead, or La Noche Del Terror Ciego, is a 1972 Spanish horror film from Armando de Ossorio. Critics consider it Spain’s Night of the Living Dead, and it went on to spawn two sequels. It’s popularity stems from the genius concept: zombie Nights of The Templar. Actually if you want to be specific they’re not so much zombies as the skeletal undead who are also vampires that like to feast on blood.
As usual the plot is pretty thin, very clunky and just an excuse to string together some murders. A couple, Virginia and Roger, bathing at a resort in Portugal meet up with an old school friend Betty, with whom Virginia shared a lesbian experience in school (yes there’s a flashback). Deciding to take a train ride together, jealousy ensues when Roger shows an interest in Betty. Enraged Virginia inexplicably jumps from the moving train and heads to the ruins of an old castle where she lights a fire and proceeds to spend the night, thus awakening the bloodthirsty knights from their centuries old slumber.
There’s a lot to like here, aside from the terrible dubbing, and the bizarre stilted editing and acting. The knights themselves, shot in woozy slow motion, are seriously terrifying. Decked out in armour and riding horses, they’re relentless, wordlessly swarming on their intended victims. It’s a very striking cinematic image, and no doubt contributed greatly to the success of the film. The remainder of the film is of course future victims all disturbing the knights resting place in all manner of bizarre and incomprehensible ways before paying the ultimate price.
You can see links to the work of Italia schlockmeister Lucio Fulci and of course George R Romero, yet Armando de Ossorio seems more seduced with the visual image and less concerned in building the substance beneath it. It’s not a political or societal allegory or even an artistic fetishisation of murder, it’s simply tourists getting their blood drained. It feels remarkably simple. At turns incompetent, hilarious, and downright terrifying, Tombs of the Living Dead is an entertaining shocker with some arresting images.