AMANDO DE OSSORIO WEEK: Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)

The original Spanish title of this movie is  La noche del terror ciego (The Night of the Blind Terror) but it is better known as Tombs of the Blind Dead). Director and writer Amando de Ossorio was inspired by El monte de las ánimas by Spanish romantic writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer and Night of the Living Dead to make this. Instead of zombies, these knights from the Easts would come to be known as the Templars, based on the Knights Templar, a Catholic military order who were  the most skilled fighting units during the Crusades. The Knights Templar innovated banking and had a form of basic credit which King Philip IV of France took advantage of. Once he was deeply in debt, he began to spread rumors that the Templars spat on the cross, denied Jesus, worshipped either Baphomet or the head of John the Baptist and engaged in homosexual relationships. There was no evidence of this yet the Templars were still tortured, gave enforced confessions and were burnt at the stake.

Their Grand Master Jacques de Molay recanted his confession and when he was burned at the stake, he asked to be turned so he could face the Notre Dame Cathedral and hold his hands together in prayer. As he perished, he said, “Dieu sait qui a tort et a péché. Il va bientôt arriver malheur à ceux qui nous ont condamnés à mort.” which means “God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death.” His accusers King Philip and Pope Clement would be dead within the year.

In the abandoned medieval town of Berzano, at the border between Spain and Portugal, the Templars were hung and birds pecked their eyes out. Now, they emerge from their graves seeking blood to remain alive now and forever.

Why would you come to such a place, Betty Turner (Lone Fleming)? Why would you bring your new lover Roger Whelan (César Burner), a fact that upsets your college girlfriend Virginia (María Elena Arpón) so much that she leaps from a train and ends up dead at the dusty hands of the Templars? What will it take you to realize that nothing stops the slow moving Templars and that they will destroy everyone that you love and leave you ruined by what you have witnessed?

As much as I adore this movie, I love even more that it was released in the U.S. as Revenge from Planet Ape, removing the Templar flashback and changing the movie to be about a post-apocalyptic future in which the undead are deceased intelligent apes.

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