Night of the Seagulls (1975)

Well, here we are, at the end of the Blind Dead series. Night of the Seagulls is the fourth and final movie in Amando de Ossorio’s tetralogy about blind undead Knights Templar, and once again it reinvents the formula. No longer are the Templars mere Satan worshippers; now they’re visitors from France 600 years ago, who took residence in a castle where they cut out the hearts as sacrifices to their dark god of the sea. Now the revenants of the “horseman of the sea” terrorize a small Spanish village by the ocean. The only way to stop their carnage is by offering up sacrifices. Every seven years a young woman is offered up as sacrifice each night for seven nights. The Templars take the captive woman, cut her heart out as a sacrifice for their ocean god, feast on her blood and body, and then leave the remains to be consumed by crabs. The tormented souls of the women then become sea gulls, which cry through the night on each night a new sacrifice is made. Man, this sounds like Dagon is screwing around.

Unfortunately for all involved, a new doctor and his wife have now come to the village. The villagers refuse to interact or even acknowledge their presence, and when they do, they curse the new arrivals. The women all wear black and bind their hair as if in permanent mourning, while the men have a brutish ugliness to their stern faces. It is a village of hardship, where custom is enforced through mob justice, and outsiders are cursed. During the sacrificial ceremony, bells ring, the sea gulls scream, and distant and desperate singing can be heard over the crash of the waves. When the doctor and his wife discover the secret, they ruin the sacrifice, and now the Templars seek to murder everyone who remains in town.

Take a moment to go back over that. Now the Templars are associated with dark old gods of the ocean who demand sacrifices or else wreak doom. The villagers refuse to talk to outsiders, their ceremonies are dark and twisted, and they live in fear of a dark cult. The final film marks the transition from Catholicism and Satanism into full on Lovecraftian territory. Yes, the knights still wear their old robes, but now they are associated with the depths of the sea and what dark deities which lie beyond.

If I had to pick a favorite of the series, I’d probably go with this one. Yes, it’s not a great movie; the dubbing is poor, the Templars move at a glacial pace unless swinging their swords or hacking away at barricades, and the jumps in logic and explanation are sometimes breathtakingly awful, but I feel like I’m watching an old world Innsmouth deal with its demons and failing horribly at it. Also gone are some of the worst bits of the series, the repeated rapes, though there is still exploitation in the tearing of clothes for the sacrifices. There is also a mentally handicapped man who is mistreated and abused by the townsfolk with uncomfortable regularity, but at least I have no qualms about the heroes really being bad guys; this time, they deserve to live, and when some don’t, it is actually a tragedy.

This one also has a strange and sudden ending unlike the others. Previously the Templars were never really defeated, just survived for the moment, often at great personal loss of families, friends, and sanity. Here, they lose in the end. Their bodies collapse under the weight of centuries, and the blood that has sustained them suddenly flows from their skeletal sockets. The final shot is of their broken bodies on the beach as dawn breaks. It’s a marvelous sequence of images that gives a definite finality to the ending of the series and marks a departure from all previous entries.

Was it worth the wait? I’m not sure. The Ghost Galleon was pretty awful. But overall…yeah, I’m pretty happy I checked this series out.

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