Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972) – Espantoso

Tombs of the Blind Dead (1973) - Movie Poster

Overall: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972) is a a Spanish-Portuguese zombie film. Generally, Spanish zombie films are a bit of an acquired taste. I hunted this film down because of a horror picture book that I have had for decades. In this book were pictures of The Blind Dead. Subsequently, that image has been permanently burned into my cerebral cortex ever since.

The Blind Dead are former Templar Knights that used to commit blood sacrifices to stay young. They were arrested for blasphemy and witchcraft. Appropriately, their have been eyes picked out by birds as their necks were stretched in the gallows. They are now skeletal remains that wear hooded monk-like robes.

Tombs of the Blind Dead - Virginia Rises From the Dead
Virginia Rises From the Dead

Road to the Templar Castle

The plots lacks substance for sure. To begin with, Betty (Lone Fleming) sees an old friend, Virginia (Maria Elena Arpón). Straightaway, Virginia’s boyfriend, Roger (César Burner) suggests that Betty join them on a weekend camping trip. Previously, Betty and Virginia shared a romantic history. Roger keeps making moves on Betty which upsets Virginia.

Consequently, Virginia jumps off of the train outside of an ancient town called Berzano, the final resting place of the Knights of the Templar. Virginia decides to camp in the abandoned ruins of an old castle. As night falls, the Blind Dead rise from the grave.

Tombs of the Blind Dead - The Templars
The Blind Dead

Victim of The Tombs of the Blind Dead

Police Detectives confront Roger and Betty when they head back to Berzano. The police inform them that Virginia is dead. She was found in a field outside of the castle ruins. While identifying the body, it is clear that Virginia was bitten multiple times. Consequently, the bite of the blind dead has the power to reanimate Virginia.

She claims one victim and almost claims Betty’s business partner. Meanwhile, Roger and Betty are doing research. Afterwards, Roger and Betty enlist the help of Nina (Verónica Llimera) and Professor Pedro Candal (José Thelman) to head back to Berzano to confront The Blind Dead.

Tombs of Blind Dead – Greatness Surrounded by Mediocrity

When reviewing this movie, it is all about context. I personally believe that a person’s horror movie journey is not complete until they break free of the tethers of American films and investigate other cultures. This provides a classic example of European horror movies of its era. It’s true. Conversely, Tombs of the Blind Dead has some rough edges. Likewise, the acting is flat. The plot is paper thin.

Tombs of the Blind Dead also has several things going for it. Its soundtrack is excellent. It is cacophony of brooding cymbal crashes, timpani, and chants rolled into abrasive sounds effects that create an unsettled feeling. Not as masterful in execution, it is very much like the soundscape of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). The Blind Dead Templar design is fantastic. Their dirty skeletal bodies shrouded in filthy Templar robes are terrifying.

These are not the shambling undead. They work together, come in force and carry weapons. The castle creates a spooky atmospheric backdrop. The cinematographer uses this to great effect in several shots. They emergence of the undead from their graves is done about as well any other. Nothing seems to stop their methodical pursuit of life-giving blood.

Tombs of the Blind Dead - Unstoppable
Seared Into in My Brain

Conclusion

This film is not great by modern standards. It would not likely make it in to anyone’s top 10 of best horror movies of all time. Many of the horror films we love fall into this category. Despite a low-budget and grainy film, there is something that pulls us in.  This film has enough of that thing, whatever it is to overcome any weaknesses. Tombs of the Blind Dead is worth seeing if you can track down a copy. A true horror movie fan that is searching the world for their next score will want to see this.

Don’t ask where the horses came from.

Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972) - Espantoso - Malevolent Dark
tombs of the blind dead poster e1624551874440

Director: Armando de Ossorio

Date Created: 1972-01-01 00:00

Editor's Rating:
2.5

2 thoughts on “Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972) – Espantoso”

  1. Very balanced review, I enjoyed reading it. Just to point out as it happens I’m spanish and know somethings about this series which I don’t see out there many times. The movie gained the cult status mostly in Europe because:
    – The Blind Knights are (loosely) based in folkloric myth “La Santa Compaña” which also featured in some “legends” from spanish romanticism era writter, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. La cruz del diablo (1860) and El monte de las ánimas (1861).
    – In the anti-Franco sphere there was people saying the movie supposedly had symbolism against the dictatorship (it was the last years of Franquism) even if the director never recognized this point. But certainly did well for the film for entering the undergrounds fanclubs.
    They said, basically the knights were a satyre about the nationalcatholicist, blind mummies from the past, slaying the villagers (civil war).
    This was specially with the sequel, where a more cartoonized village with the local mafia, the lazy major, the town fool who allies the enemy, etc. are present. The monsters, as blind they are, go in rampage by sound attraction. For some, a symbol for speech suppression or disident murdering.
    I don’t fully endorse the theory but who knows. Anyway, that’s what it was.

    1. Thank you for the comment! I love getting this kind of insight from the Internet. I can definitely see how this film could be metaphorically significant for a variety of socio-political themes. Thanks for the typo catch 😉

Leave a Reply