The Ghost Galleon (1974)

My experience with the Blind Dead series continues with the third entry in the tetralogy. This time the formula has been changed up so that all the action takes place on a boat full of men who had sympathized and allied with the Knights Templar but had instead been lost on the high seas and are now cursed to sate their bloodlust by pulling ships into a pocket universe to feed off their victims one by one. Only this time it’s a couple of fashion models they catch in the middle of a publicity stunt out on the ocean. With the girls missing, the owner of the company doing the stunt teams up with his rapey henchman, the immoral head of a modeling agency, a curious professor, and the kidnapped angry roommate of one of the missing models. Sadly, there is no Mary Ann, but there will be some howling! Hahaha! Ah, I’m sorry, that was terrible.

If while reading my plot description you thought, “Well this sounds stupid,” you would be right. The vast majority of characters in this movie are incredibly cringe-worthy. Three of the leads, the executive, his henchman, and the modeling agency lady, are all outright scum. When the concerned roommate tracks them down to find out about her missing friend, they instead lock her up, thinking they can pay her off to keep quiet once they find the missing models. Then the henchman goes so far as to rape her while she is apparently having a seizure. And then there is the professor who constantly makes absurd leaps in logic. He even decided to come on this little shindig to find a haunted ship despite not being able to swim.

Of all of the so-called “heroes,” only the concerned roommate is ever anything approaching a decent person. She genuinely cares about her missing friend and reminisces on how she got her into modeling, quietly blaming herself for her disappearance. If there is one character who deserves to get away, it’s her. But this isn’t that kind of movie. Instead its a nihilistic glimpse of the forces of the past surging forward to conquer the present with no survivors.

In fact it’s so willing to make everyone suffer that by far the most interesting and effective scene is the five minute sequence a little over halfway through in which the roommate is drawn into the ship’s galley to her death. The dead Templars rise, one claws her throat so deeply he damages her vocal chords, and she slowly tries to crawl away and gasp hoarsely for help before they drag her back down below to dismember and eat her. The only sounds during this sequence are her strangled cries from bleeding lips and the chanting music which accompanies the rise of the dead. Once again the blind dead work in silence, and how they pull her down the stairs as she goes wild-eyed with fear is truly magnificent.

It’s a shame the rest of the movie just doesn’t live up to this. The ending is another highlight, but most of this film is poorly thought out, and making everyone into human trash certainly doesn’t make me empathize with them at all. They cut that right out halfway through the movie with the roommate’s death. I blame the script, which feels like someone had to come up with a new way to handle the series but then failed to develop a “why” for it to happen. The result is the weakest of the Blind Dead movies so far.

Oh well, I still plan to watch the fourth and finish this whole thing off.

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