Return of the Blind Dead (1973)

Two years after Spanish director Amando de Ossorio finished his first Blind Dead movie, he released a sequel, El Ataque de los Muertos Sin Ojos, AKA Return of the Blind Dead or Return of the Evil Dead. Unfortunately no, it has nothing to do with the Evil Dead series, instead returning to the concept of the Knights Templar rising from the grave as revenants and attacking anyone who gets too close. The movie was released internationally under several names, and the English-language versions feature about four minutes of cut or rearranged footage which removed much of the gore.

This time around, the legend of the Knights Templar has changed; a Portuguese village mob slaughtered the knightly order as an active of revenge for the torture and sacrifice of local virgins. Instead of birds plucking out their eyes, the villagers use torches to burn them out before setting fire to the Templars and beating their bodies with sticks and pitchforks. Now the Templars have been called back by an ostracized gravekeeper to attack the village 500 years later. With many actors returning, reused footage, and the same sound effects and occasional odd close ups, Return of the Blind Dead feels more like a remake than a sequel.

Thankfully, this time certain oddities were removed, like one of the Templar’s victims coming back as a zombie. The movie also gets moving right along, with the Templars rising and assaulting the town within half an hour of the film’s start. They still operate off sound and ride undead horses, only this time they use tactics such as blocking off and guarding corridors or using people as bait for others. Yes, sometimes the special effects aren’t the best, particularly in one scene where obvious dummies get blown up, but overall I find these Blind Dead superior to the original.

It’s a shame that once again the plot holds things back. A firework salesman shows up to help with a festival and discovers the corrupt mayor’s secretary is an old flame. Unfortunately the mayor and his main lieutenant are also into her, so they try to beat up the firework salesman once his job is done. Then when shit hits the fan, the mayor tries to leave everyone for dead while the lieutenant gets rapey and the other few survivors hide in a church. While I get the message that politicians are greedy, selfish, and dumb, none of these minor villains ever feel believable. It makes it that much rewarding whenever one gets his comeuppance.

There are also some choreography problems which hold the film back. The big fight scene with the undead Templars doesn’t feel believable because the wounds and injures feel laughably bad. Yes, I know, I am talking about believability in a movie about undead knights murdering people in Spain. But compare this to a scene where the Templars hack off a man’s arm and then stab him to death; that feels much better. It’s a shame things weren’t consistent.

Also I’m getting a sort of late-70s Italian zombie movie feel off of these. I know Lucio Fulci was more inspired by Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, but I wonder if he watched these while prepping for the likes of Zombi 2.

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