Wednesday, April 9, 2008


1974's GHOST GALLEON, perhaps better known as HORROR OF THE ZOMBIES, is Amando de Ossorio's third installment of his classic BLIND DEAD series (I'd considered reviewing them in order, but what the hell, it's my blog--and besides, I get the feeling there was never any sense of continuity intended beyond the first two films, as though de Ossorio made them because he knew they'd sell). While not as successful as the original TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD, GALLEON still has plenty of charms, even if they're not readily apparent.

A small group of fashionistas (including genre faves Maria Perschy and Jack Taylor) set sail on the Atlantic in search of a pair of models who were lost at sea as part of some publicity stunt. We the audience already know what happened to them, since we got to see a decrepit ghost ship emerging from the fog (a great image, even if it is a tank-bound miniature), loaded with the coffins of the Knights Templar below deck. It isn't long before Perschy and co. find themselves fending off these skeletal members of the undead.

That pretty much sums up the film's events. De Ossorio seems more concerned with atmosphere and mood than action, judging by the almost complete lack of the latter. Those that can appreciate the deliberate pacing will no doubt enjoy the scenes of the Knights creeping ever so slowly among the ship, stalking their prey to the aural accompaniment of spookhouse-worthy groans and clanging chains. The initial appearance of the Knights is always the highlight of the BLIND DEAD films, and this one is no exception, a wonderfully drawn-out sequence as the zombies pull themselves from their caskets to shamble into the camera. (My only beef is that the script--probably bashed out in a single sitting once funding was secured--never explores the sightless Knights' motif of hunting their victims by sound. With all the creaking and moaning on board the ship, you'd think there'd be a lot to work with.)

I will warn you, though, if you're sitting patiently for the blood to flow, you'll be disappointed with this one. While previous installments of the series worked in a few gory bits, GALLEON is relatively grueless, save for a messy decapitation towards the end.

I can easily picture many of you fast-forwarding through most of this picture, if not ejecting it outright, and I'd totally understand. No, not much happens here, but it's the almost dream-like way that little bit happens is what makes it such a re-watchable film for me.

(There's quite a few public domain copies of HORROR OF THE ZOMBIES out there that are easily to track down, but special thanks are due to Donna Williams for hooking me up with Blue Underground's superior widescreen print.)

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