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The Blind Dead Collection
casts: César Burner, Lone Fleming, Tony Kendall, and Esther Ray

director: Amando de Ossorio

573 minutes (18) 1971-5
widescreen ratio 16:9
Anchor Bay UK DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Barry Forshaw
For horror film aficionados of a certain age, the grisly Blind Dead films of Armand de Ossorio bring back many fond memories. In their day, these atmospheric sagas of the death-dealing knights of an ancient Templar Order were among the most extreme of European horror films, with the equestrian cadavers among the most graphic and bloody dispensers of hapless victims. Of course, the films were often only available in badly dubbed, heavily cut forms - unlike the re-masterings on this deluxe boxed set, which contains all the films in the series along with copious extras; there are cuts, but nothing as ruinous as in previous video incarnations (the first appearance of the films on video in this country featured trailers showing the murderous Templar activities when the knights were alive - mainly slashing the breasts of bound female victims and eating their hearts - but all such scenes were removed from the videos themselves!). Now, of course, such grisly special effects (seen in sharp digital images) look less convincing - the breasts into which the Templar dig their swords look notably rubbery, but there's still an enjoyable excess in the mayhem (while female victims get it in the chest, males - sometimes leading characters - routinely get arms and hands chopped off). The early films contrast the activities of the Templars - ritual killings in ceremonial settings - with their equally murderous pursuits after their emergence from the grave, revived as crumbling, skull-faced zombies in the present.

Armand de Ossorio's 'present' in these film is, of course, the 1970s, and like many such horror films of the period (notably Mario Bava's Five Dolls For An August Moon), fashions of the day now seem more horrendous than the enthusiastic bloodletting. But the films here (notably the first two, Tombs Of The Blind Dead (aka: La Noche del terror ciego, 1971) and Return Of The Blind Dead (aka: El Ataque de los muertos sin ojos, 1973) makes for diverting viewing, even if it's a shame de Ossorio's budget didn't run to articulated skeletal claws for his grey-robed monsters - we see an awful lot of these utterly immobile appendages, sticking out of their sleeves of the stuntmen, a good eight inches beyond where human arms end. But quibbles are beside the point: it's good to see Euro-horror of this period given a deluxe treatment. It's a particular bonus to have the original Spanish language tracks (with, of course, subtitles): crass and insensitive dubbing sank these movies, like so many otherwise excellent gialli of the time. Perhaps, seen together; a certain repetitiveness sets in, but admirers won't object to that - and to have such seminal films in exemplary transfers is a real bonus.

Extras (on a separate disc) are plentiful, including featurettes and an interview with the director, along with alternate sequences. Picture quality is excellent, though the DTS Dolby soundtrack setting sounds no difference from any other audio option.
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