Spanish auteur Amando de Ossorio’s Night of the Blind Dead fits into a subgenre I like to call Schlock Horror. Schlock Horror movies are so bad that they’re…well, they’re just so bad it’s impossible to imagine how they could get any worst, although this doesn’t always stop them from proving us wrong. Just when you think a Schlock Horror film can’t get any worst, just wait until the next scene. Take Night of the Blind Dead for example, the epitome of the “so bad it must be good, or maybe not” area of thought.
Night of the Blind Dead opens with 20-something Virginia (Elena Arpon) sunbathing by a public pool where she meets her former best friend, 40-something Betty (Lone Fleming). Also at the pool is Virginia’s “friend” Roger (Cesar Burner), a hot-to-trot playboy who invites Betty to go camping with them. Virginia is not thrilled, since she’s an ex-lover of Betty and has been trying to forget her “past.” On the train ride to the camping site, Betty and Roger turns into the hot-to-trot couple from Hell, forcing poor Virginia to leap off the train in the middle of nowhere in order to avoid them.
Virginia, who is either the bravest or dumbest horror movie victim in all of horror movie history, spends the night at the ancient ruins of a medieval castle by her little lonesome. It isn’t long before the castle’s former occupants, a group of Templar Knights into black magic, wakes up and kills our pretty heroine. Next day, our hot-to-trot couple Betty and Roger decides to look for Virginia, and ends up at the castle ruins with another couple, Pedro and Maria, and if you think it can’t get any worst…
As is the case with all Schlock Horror movies, Night of the Blind Dead is a very, very bad film. Even for 1971 standards, it’s impossible to imagine how Night of the Blind Dead can get any worst than it already is. For one, the Templar Knights seem neither blind nor confined to the night, and while they shuffle from one place to another by foot, they can ride horses with the best of them.
Director Amando de Ossorio has the Templars moving in slow motion via a sped-up camera when the Templars are on horseback, giving them a dreamy quality that completely looks ridiculous since they’re in slow motion every time they’re on horseback. When the dead Knights aren’t on horseback, they’re doing their best impression of a Romero zombie, which means they shuffle to and fro and takes about an hour to get 2 feet in any one direction. Why this is so, I couldn’t tell you, since they seem to move just fine on horseback. And just where do those horses come from, anyway? They look pretty fresh to me.
The acting for Night of the Blind Dead, as is the case with all Schlock Horror films, is terrible across the board. The only actor who has any semblance of talent is Maria Silva (Maria), who flaunts her stuff as a tramp, but unfortunately her character doesn’t show up until towards the end, which means we’re stuck with Roger and Betty going from location to location, and bad actor to bad actor, inquiring about the Templars’ history. Actress Elena Arpon (Virginia) was obviously hired because she looked very good in bra and panties and that’s about it. In an interesting tidbit, after Virginia is bitten to death by the Templars and becomes a living dead zombie, she remains curiously modest, as she takes care to cover her privates with sheets and later, two pieces of makeshift bikini strips. Who says the living dead can’t be embarrassed!
Director Ossorio, who does double duty as the film’s writer, has no idea what he wants his movie to be. It’s inconsistent and even dumb that the Templar Knights could turn anyone (as they did with Virginia) into zombies. In fact, there really is no rhyme or reason as to why Virginia returns from the dead in the first place except to offer the movie some additional bodycount. On that same topic, Night of the Blind Dead is curiously low when it comes to bodycount. I counted only 5 dead, including Virginia, in the movie’s entire 100-minute run. The Templar Knights themselves only show up twice, first to snuff out Virginia and again towards the end, when hot-to-trot couple Roger and Betty and another couple returns to the ruins for God knows why.
Night of the Blind Dead is a waste of time, even for those who enjoys Schlock Horror. It’s a terribly slow and dull movie that isn’t helped by lousy music. The character voices are all dubbed in the native language since the movie was obviously not shot with sync sound (which means all sounds were added in post-production). The result: whenever a female character screams or is in the throes of fear, it sounds like someone mistakenly swapped a porno soundtrack for Night of the Blind Dead’s. It also doesn’t help that 20-something Elena Arpon (Virginia) has what sounds like a 40-something woman dubbing her lines.
Amando de Ossorio (director) / Amando de Ossorio (screenplay)
CAST: Lone Fleming …. Betty Turner
C’sar Burner …. Roger Whelan
Elena Arpon …. Virginia White
Joseph Thelman …. Pedro Cantell
Rufino Ingl’s …. Inspector Olivero