RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD
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"Bert, I've been thinking: this is a horrible situation."
Why would anyone make a movie about "Blind Dead" when regular dead are perfectly serviceable? Well, for one thing, RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD just sounds way cooler than simply Return of the Dead. Director / Writer Amando Ossorio, if nothing else, sure knew how to create a title. He also knew how to make some of the worst movies ever.
Ahh . . . but the wonderful secret of his schlock was the fact that, no matter how stupid the flick, it was never, ever boring. Amando was approaching his craft seriously. He meant it, and was far better at it than say, Ed Wood.
His flicks are also great to make fun of in a Mystery Science Theater / THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW fashion. Amando Ossorio films are perfect for monster movie marathons with your friends in the same way that GODZILLA movies are such fun. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you've earned my pity and rightly so.
RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD starts over from scratch.
In TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD, the villains of the flick are the evil Knights Of Templar. Historically, the KOTs were a group of wealthy, pampered, spoiled, and overindulged religious nuts*, bent on rape, torture, murder and other pretensions (I say pretensions and not perversions because perversion notes depravity and this is a religion we're talking about here. You gotta respect other people's religion, right? Right? Bah!). Hey, everything is allowed if you read your religious tome-just-right.
Anywho, in the first flick, The Templars became blind when the villagers strung them up and let the crows pick out their eyeballsies. This time however, the villagers were way impatient and just burned their balls right out of their sockets. They did this because the Templar honcho (Luis Barboo: WHEN THE SCREAMING STOPS, CONAN THE BARBARIAN) warned the villagers that they couldn't be killed and that the Templars would return from Hell to wreak revenge. Hey, the Templars are killing everybody anyway so how much worse could it get? These villagers got nothing to lose and basically respond with, "Oh yeah? Well let's see you find your way back from hell without your eyes!"
Different, right? And yet written and directed by the same guy.
Was Ossorio forgetful or was he just playing new riffs on an old tune? Sort of like an MTV unplugged version of blind dead? I dunno, anything is possible - Not the least of which, there were a fair amount of Knights Of Templar at one time so this could be just another village with a slightly different history. Except for the fact that the damn village is STILL called Berzano (I know they called it Bereno in the first movie, but that was only in the screwed up dub. The folks kept mouthing "Berzano" - or maybe Persano - my lip reading is no great shakes.). So RETURN isn't really a sequel, maybe a prequel, but really just another story about the Blind Dead Knights of Templar that has nothing to do with the first. But what about the "Return" part of the title you say?
Look at it this way, the Blind Dead are "returning" to life. Happy now? Look at this another way. It's only a freaking movie about the supernatural for crying out loud! Wake up! Yer reading this for entertainment, not to solve life's important questions! If you are the type of personality to remain bent over this (and how I hope that isn't the majority of my audience), I gotta tell you, Amando Ossorio would not have cared. He just wanted to freak you out, and RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD certainly has its freaky moments.
For instance, in every Ossorio flick I've ever seen, there is the "Village Freak". It was the blind violinist in WHEN THE SCREAMING STOPS, it was the morgue attendant in TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD and this time around it is the cemetery caretaker, Murdo (José Canalejas: HORROR EXPRESS, RICCO THE MEAN MACHINE), who is facially deformed (thanks to acting, not make-up), has a gimpy hand, a bent back, and a creepy stare. He has the biggest role of all the village freaks that have passed through Amando's flicks and, even though he is supposed to be marginally good, just counts in too high a visual skin crawl to feel entirely comfortable with - the best actor in the flick. Canalejas Murdo steals all his scenes.
On a historical side note, none of Amando's village freaks were essentially bad. Although they all had a twisted perspective, they were more likely to be sympathetic victims than unsympathetic villains. Amando saved his venom for his own heros who were always arrogant and ineffectual. Amando had even more bile for whoever passed for the authority figure - they were invariably corrupt, cowardly, and drunk.
Durable Ossorio hero, Tony Kendall (WHEN THE SCREAMING STOPS), plays the traveling American, Jack Marlowe. He makes his living putting on firework displays from village to village and when he comes to the town of Berzano, he meets the oafish mayor and his scowling henchmen, as well as Vivian, an old flame. Unfortunately, Vivian is the object of affection for both Mayor Duncan (Fernando Sancho^: VUDU SANGRIENTO, LA ENDEMONIADA, LA CRUZ DIABLO, QUEL POMERIGGIO MALEDETTO) and his personal assistant, Howard (whose eyebrows overwhelm his acting ability).
Unlike the women in other Ossorio flicks, Vivian (Esperanza Roy: UNA VELA PARA EL DIABLO) is nothing to get hung about. How she is getting the honchos of Berzano to jostle for her is anyone's guess, although if you are attracted to eyes on a woman, Vivian's got 'em. Hoo BOY does she have big eyes! She's got Marty Feldman eyes! She also has a great personality that breaks down your defenses after a bit. She has cute mannerisms and is someone you could love on second or fifth impression. Believe me though, Hollywood pretty she ain't. What an arrogant dipshit like Jack would probably find most endearing about Vivian is the fact that she doesn't scream, faint, or freak out at the drop of a hat. The homicidal dead have returned to kill us, you say? No hay problema! Where's the freaking car, manito?
The Town's celebration is called Lakima, to celebrate the lynching of the Knights Of Templar. During the festivities, Jack gets a little too friendly with Vivian and gets his ass kicked by the mayor's machos for being frisky. He and Vivian decide to head for the hills. Too bad the sun has gone down during this anniversary of Lakima. For tonight is the night that the Knights rise up in the night and go hunting humans all ... er... night.
Jack and Vivian wind up returning to the village because - need I say it - Merry Mishaps occur.
Despite the popularity of TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD, Amando Ossorio thought nothing of bringing back actress Lone Fleming (Lone Fleming: UNA VELA PARA EL DIABLO), who played Betty in the first flick, as the wholly different character, Amalia: interesting choice to say the least. Amando didn't seem to give a shit about movie "franchise".
Favorite goofs in this flick include the burning of the Templars, which were so low budget that, as their clothing burns you can see the wooden frames beneath the empty costumes. Another is the fact that, off their horses (they ride dead horses and even beat them), the KOTS are slow as, well, something that is pretty damn slow. They could probably outrace a glacier if they put their minds to it. So anyone who gets killed has to pretty much stay in one place shouting "Go away!" and "Stop", or maybe "I'm gonna tell!"
RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD has its scary moments, but mainly its a hoot and an enjoyable thrill ride. Kudos to the late great Amando de Ossorio! RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD gets Four Negative Shriek Girls for being so bad it's good!
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