Movie Review: Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)

Tombs of the Blind Dead Cover Art

Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)
Directed by Amando de Ossorio

Tombs of the Blind Dead Cover ArtDescription: A semi-retarded hottie in a pair of Daisy Dukes jumps from a moving train and winds up in the ruins of an ancient castle where some evil Knights Templar once performed Satanic/Egyptian eternal-life rituals. As it should happen, the rituals were a great success and now the place is infested by cool looking mummy/skeleton/vampire Knights Templar who apparently just sit around, kickin‘ it, waiting for visitors/dinner to come strolling in. You can imagine what happens to the afore mentioned hottie in said Daisy Dukes.Written and directed by Amando de Ossorio as the first part of his masterful Blind Dead series.

The Good: Mummies on horseback! Yippee Kayay Cadavers! These dudes are the original Mordor posse. There’s also several dozen wicked looking musty old monks with long black goatees who have no eyes, roaming around with fifteenth-century bastard swords. Now add to that a hot lesbian in a graveyard in the middle of the night who’s wearing a pair of knee-high white vinyl go-go boots and you’ve got yourself a badass movie!

The acting is decent for the kind of film it is and the camera work has moments of interest. For the most part, these elements are not so bad as to distract which allows the viewer to stay focused on more important things, like the dumbass getting naked while completely alone in a deserted, crumbling castle at midnight for apparently no reason. I live for those moments. So do evil, visually impaired Knights Templar it seems.

The Bad: Seventies hair. Oh yeah, and the centuries-old, abandoned and crumbling, haunted castle has freshly cut grass and lots of Giallo mood lighting, both of which are altogether uncommon amenities in a centuries-old, abandoned and crumbling, haunted castle.

The Ugly: Seventies hair. Other than that, this film is exactly what one should expect from 1970’s Italian horror – which is plenty of kickassness. This is not a Serious Statement film, nor is it an Artistic Expression film. It’s goofy, shock horror, teenaged boner stuff, so an in-depth cinematic critique is out of place. It’s a fun film, leave it at that already!

Old School: Fans of schloky drive-in films will enjoy Tombs of the Blind Dead, if you haven’t already watched it twenty hundred times.

New Blood: Under-thirties will find a lot to laugh about so get your giggle on with this one. It’s totally harmless, booby-flashing fun with the occasional squirt or two of Cardiff red.

To See or Not to See?   The next time you’re flipping through Fangoria, look for the coffin-shaped box set of DVDs that features this classic and buy the whole damn thing asap.

Check out the Tombs of the Blind Dead Trailer:

Movie Review: BEGOTTEN (1990)

Begotten Cover Art


Begotten (1990)

Written and Directed by Edmund E. Merhige

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Description: an 80min abstract Rorschach version of the Judeo-Christian creation story.

The Good: If you are not a fan of abstract/coffee-house films, then there will probably be nothing in this film that you will like. There is no dialog and in fact, not even color as all of the images are comprised solely of pure black and pure white with no half-tones. The story is cryptic and hard to follow or understand (for most viewers) but if you like the bizarre and abstract then you will probably love this film. To be sure, there are certainly elements of horror here: scenes that are so graphic in nature that they are hard to watch and impossible to forget, but a suspenseful/slasher film it is not. Though there is no dialog, the sound effects are unsettling, creepy, and at times, completely unnerving. Combined with the stark contrast and almost alien imagery, the soundtrack helps to evoke a completely surreal and horrifying world. For all of the truly gruesome and graphic images that abound in the realm of cinema horror, no other film as made this reviewer as uncomfortable, tense, and truly horrified as Elias Merhige’s Begotten. Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible came close for a few minutes during the infamous rape scene, but that is only a fraction of the freaked-out-edness to be experienced in this film.

The Bad: Begotten is surreal and somewhat abstract. The characters are more akin to Jungian archetypes than they are stock character types, which makes this a hard to follow/understand film. However, these elements give the viewer an interpretive freedom and participation level that is rarely, if ever, found in mainstream films. You may not come away with the same story the filmmaker was telling, but the one you glean will be more personal and meaningful.

The Ugly: The imagery is borderline theoretical at times due to the phenomenal amount of processing that went into this film but it is up to each viewer to truly determine the value of this quality. For myself, I have nothing negative to remark on concerning the style, acting, video or audio quality of this film.

Old School: Truly old school fans of horror will probably dig this one, and by truly old school I mean those people who own a copy of The Student of Prague, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, or Murnau’s Nosferatu. You know who you are. Also, fans of Eraserhead will most likely enjoy it as well.

New Blood: Younger audiences who enjoy MTV-style editing and seeing Paris Hilton in horror films, will probably hate this one. If you don’t know who Max Schreck is, then I’m talking about you.

To See or Not to See?  Good luck finding this one anywhere. I have never seen it on eBay, and only once at Amazon – for over one hundred dollars (US). I know of one video store in Atlanta that rents it. So however you can watch this film, by all means do so.

Check out the Begotten trailer!