Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It Came from Netflix! Return of the Blind Dead

El Ataque de los muertos sin ojos is the second of Amando Ossorio’s Blind Dead series, albeit more of a remake of the first film than a sequel. From what I gather, the next two mpvies are like that as well. In other words, the four pictures are pretty much discrete re-tellings of the same story, with no apparent continuity between them.

As before, the Blind Dead are Templar Knights who returned from the Crusades having learned dark occult secrets. Terrorizing the Portuguese village of Buazano (as opposed to the first film's Spanish village of Berzano), they sacrifice maidens to buy themselves immortality.

However, this eventually riles up the townsfolk, who capture the Templars and make to burn them alive. The Templar leader boasts that they will return from their graves to seek revenge. In response, the villagers burn out their eyes, so that should they return, they couldn’t find their way.

[This origin is rather different than the one presented in the first film, in which the Knights were executed by the Church, and lost their eyes not to torches but to ravenous crows.]

Cut to the modern day Berzano. It’s the day of a merry annual festival celebrating the killing of the Knights, who are burned each year in effigy. Fireworks technician / man o’ action Jack has been hired to provide a little extra kick. In town, he meets Mayor Duncan and Vivian, Duncan’s fiancée. It turns out that Vivian is an old flame of Jack’s, and that she arranged to have him hired in hope of hooking back up with him.

Meanwhile, the town freak, who happens to be the caretaker of the Church and the local cemetery, has decided (apparently) to wreak his revenge by rousing the Knights from their sleep. In contrast to the first film, this requires a blood sacrifice, allowing for more naked boobies and some nasty but not very convincing gore effects. The Blind Dead indeed rise, but repay the caretaker with naught but a facial wound.

They attack two lovers, but the woman escapes when she rides off on one of the Templar’s horses. This is a reprise of a scene in the first movie, and again, it doesn’t make the Templars seem all that impressive, especially since this film establishes the horses as being ghostly too. Why a phantom stead would obey a human is beyond me.

Eventually the Templars hit town, and there is some bite in seeing them mow down the partiers celebrating their demise. The Knights get more screen time in this one, although that may arguably diminish them a bit. They remain pretty spooky, however, even if there are times when you wish their victims would just run past the slow-moving creatures rather than back slowly into a corner, screaming and waiting to be hacked to bits. Even so, their unhurried implacability remains unsettling.

As in the previous film, quite a few people are killed here—well into the dozens—and things end up with a group besieged in a stone building. The Mayor proves pretty despicable, and pulls one of the rummiest stunts I’ve seen in a long time in his quest to escape. Meanwhile, when a child is at one point put into peril, it has a bit more kick than usual, since a young kid was killed in the first movie.

The Templars definitely seem less powerful in this one. Several of them appear to be ‘killed’ over again. (If you can destroy them with flames, why not toss a couple Molotov Cocktails at them? They even give the characters a small supply of gas at one point, but they never employ it.) The Knights’ super-acute hearing, sharp enough in the last film to hear the heartbeats of potential victims, doesn’t seem to come much into play here. And finally…well, that’s that end of the movie, so I won’t say too much about it.

This one is better than the first film, if only because it’s a bit shorter and moves a bit faster. Still and all, and despite being a fan of mood and atmosphere in my horror movies, I do find myself employee Ye Olde Faste Forward Buttone while watching these.

Compared to the first film, this one is rather gorier, and there’s probably a bit more nudity. (Which isn’t very erotic since it’s usually mixed with gross violence.) From the stills included in the DVD extras, it seems likely that they filmed a lot more nudity than we see here, too, including some full frontal stuff. This was presumably shot for those foreign markets that permitted such material. Meanwhile, the somewhat abbreviated American dubbed version, included on the disc, edits out some of the gore.