Horror of the Zombies (El Buque Maldito) (1974)
Cast: Maria Pershcy, Jack Taylor, Barbara Rey, Carl Leonard
Director: Amando De Ossorio
Nutshell: Murderous undead Templar Knights return on monstrous phantom ship
“Effects are cheesy but De Ossorio does inject atmosphere” Creature Features
“all at sea” Monster Movie Guide
“rated: Turkey” Video Movie Guide
The marauding blind dead Templar Knights are back once again, not that their return should come as too much of a surprise – a trait common to most undead types is their absolute refusal to lie down and the Templar’s are no exception.
You will recall from previous instalments of the Blind Dead films that the Knights are a despised cult who in the 16th century performed blood rites and cannibalism as well as systematically terrorized their local community. They were eventually overpowered by the forces of the King who had them tied up in the open so that crows could peck out their eyes as they perished, rotting in the fierce sun. Now, legend has it that centuries later they have re-emerged and once again roam the nights in search of fresh victims – listening for the sound of their potential victims, as the crows have left them blind.
In the first film of Amando De Ossorio’s Blind Dead series Tombs of the Blind Dead, the Templar’s boarded a passenger train and bludgeoned everyone in sight in one of the most ghastly sequences of horror ever put on film. In the second movie, Return of the Blind Dead, the Knights gate-crashed the town’s big party spreading mayhem, terror and death. In this third instalment, the Templar’s embark on a different journey altogether but with equally bloodcurdling results.
Two leggy supermodel types have been despatched by a sleazy business magnate for a wild publicity stunt in the middle of the ocean! The girls are supposed to intercept any vessel passing by and sell them their product – or some such nonsense. The girls, woefully under equipped and suitably underdressed, drift across a sinister looking bank of fog and shortly after they sight a medieval looking galleon heading straight for them. In a panic they try to warn off the advancing ship with flares but to no avail. Then they radio the magnate and his shapely associate for help managing some garbled words before contact is broken. The ship appears to be totally deserted but it’s not long before one of the girls vanishes and the second one, in her attempt to find her friend, stumbles upon an pack of rotting cadavers in the form of the resurgent Templar Knights who are in fact the captains of this ghostly vessel.
Meanwhile the business tycoon busily assembles a team of reluctant associates and heads off for the ocean in an attempt to find the models. Again, it doesn’t take long to come across the strangely floating mist and shrouded within that mist, the dreaded floating galleon – as well as the abandoned boat the models had used. Now the real fun begins as one by one the group discovers that the rampaging Templar Knights are indeed back from the dead and are the inhabitants of the galleon – but like Nosferatu – they only rise at night.
The film moves at a pace a world apart from the Scream’s and I Know What You Did Last Summer kind of strap-on-your-safetybelts speed roller-coaster rides. Horror of the Zombies meanders and lumbers along at a pace rather like those of the rambling, shuffling zombies that we see on screen, yet it’s a refreshing change from the trailer (preview) like editing to be found in most Hollywood horror of the Scream age. There is even time enough for Ossorio to include his trademark pseudo lesbian moment but the real focus is certainly where it should be…..on those hideous bloodthirsty Templars and their ghoulish, endless quest for fresh victims. They are in magnificent form this time around ripping a curvaceous blonde with their twisted talons and then gorging and slurping on her warm, steaming corpse while she is still alive!
The gore level has been turned on by Ossorio with stomach churning scenes of limbs being ripped off and devoured with relish. The scenes are slow and deliberate, almost static; therefore acquiring an almost nightmarish “quality”. Stretched out, almost laborious death scenes manage to entrance due to this nightmarish world that Ossorio is able to create with his mix of swirling mists, eerie music and relentless assailants.
Though Ossorio hasn’t been able to match the sheer atmospheric brilliance of the first Blind Dead film, at least this is a huge improvement on the second excessively dull effort. Here, the comedy is mercifully kept to a minimum and there are enough creepy sequences involving the Knights to satisfy fans of the original. Would have been much better had it not been dubbed into English, but is certainly a worthy sequel even if it isn’t on a par with the extraordinary Tombs of the Blind Dead. The gore effects are well intended if not quite Tom Savini level and the ship and ocean are of the-model-in-bathtub variety. Never the less, this doesn’t detract from the movie as any additional lumps of cheese only add to the charms of Euro-horror of this nature. Incidentally VidAmerica voted this film as one of the “World’s Worst Videos” – rather rich (if typical) for Americans to vote this as the pits while spending $100’s of millions on epics like The Haunting, Bats, Stigmata etc.