Return of the Evil Dead (1973)

a.k.a El Ataque de los muertos sin ojos, Attack of the Blind Dead
The second of Amando de Ossorio's Blind Dead films - well directed and often scary. Blue Underground R1 DVD.

The Film

After the international sucess of Amando de Ossorio's Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971) and Paul Naschy's Werewolf Shadow (1971), Spanish horror began to take off and with Naschy finding sucess with a variety of wolfman sequels, it was obvious that there was money to be made with a new Blind Dead film. Despite the American title, the film is less of a sequel than a remake, and is more accurately known in English as Attack of the Blind Dead:

In the small Portuguese town of Bouzano, the villagers are preparing for their annual festivities - celebrating their overthrowing of the evil Templar Knights hundreds of years ago. The town Mayor has called in a pyrotechnics expert, Jack (Tony Kendall) to help the festivities, but is shocked to discover that his wife and Jack have a rather twisted history together, and she plans to run away with him. Meanwhile, the town idiot, Murdo, has captured a local woman, and spills her blood onto the ground of the knight's cemetery causing them to rise from their graves. Storming into town they massacre many of the townspeople and a small group end up trapped in the church - as the knights try to break in, tensions inside begin to boil...

From the start it is clear Attack is a completely different film to Tombs, and importantly, a far more effective one. The first half of the film provides all the necessary exposition and some strong, varied and quite plausible character build up, although the background to the Templars is still rather vague (surely simply drinking blood does not lead to immortality?). While Tombs was obviously partly inspired by George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) - Attack takes the links much further, with the second half of the film copying the under-siege theme of the American film. Fortunately, de Ossorio doesn't directly copy Romero and these church siege sequences are well scripted and often very tense, and the internal conflicts come over well (even if the town Mayor is approaching comic book evil). Generally, Attack manages to be scarier and darker than Tombs with a strong atmosphere throughout - the obviously inserted exploitation elements and lengthy padding scenes of Tombs are gone here and only the ending disappoints slightly.

De Ossorio's direction is strong, helping to build the tension in many scenes, and the shots of the knights rising are as effective as ever (even if many of the shots are literally re-used from Tombs). Special effects are as strong as ever, with the Knights looking very dead and some impressive gory effects. Antón García Abril reuses much of the score from Tombs and the choral chanting is equally effective here.

Tony Kendall is the only big name on the cast sheet here, best known for his role as Christian in Mario Bava's Whip and the Body (1963). Here he plays "Captain" Jack, essentially the film's hero and gives a decent, plausible performance. Lone Fleming, star of Tombs turns up again in a minor role while Francisco Sanz (Tombs' Professor) turns up again as a station master. There are no big names in the rest of the cast, but the performances look decent.

De Ossorio takes another shot at the Blind Dead here, and gets it right this time - frequently dark and scary, Attack of the Blind Dead is generally well written and directed. Recommended to cult horror fans, and a must see for fans of Spanish horror cinema. If you are going to get one of the Blind Dead films, this is the one to pick up.

In Brief

Anyone famous in it? No-one of note.
Directed by anyone interesting? Amando de Ossorio - a lesser known Spanish director who shot all four official Blind Dead films, as well as a variety of even more obscure horror titles.
Is it scary?A variety of scary and tense sequences.
Any violence/gore? Some very bloody and gory deaths.
Any sex? Some mild nudity in a few brief scenes.
Who is it for?
Spanish horror fans will certainly want to see this, and it is recommended to all cult-horror fans.
Good Soundtrack?A decent track, with a good title theme, from Spanish horror composer Antón García Abril.

Similar Films

Follows:La Noche del terror ciego [a.k.a Tombs of the Blind Dead] - the creepy, but poorly written first film.
Sequels:El Buque maldito  [a.k.a The Ghost Galleon] (1974) - a low ebb for the franchise.
La Noche de las gaviotas  [a.k.a Night of the Seagulls] (1975) - the effective final chapter. 
Inspired by:Night of the Living Dead (1968) - George Romero's seminal zombie chiller.
Led to:Mansion of the Living Dead (1982) - Jess Franco's perverse, sex-filled riff on the Blind Dead.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour
The print is decent with good colours and  minimal print damage although grain is strong and some scenes are very dark.
Audio Original Spanish audio - sounds fine, some hiss.
Subtitles English - translates the Spanish track and reads well. The text is yellow.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Original American theatrical version of the film. Under the title The Return of the Evil Dead, this print runs several minutes shorter, and has some different edits. The print is of similar quality to the main feature.
  • Original US and Spainish theatrical trailers. Good condition.
  • A detailed poster and stills gallery. Manual scrolling. (Of special interest are the black and white stills showing some nude scenes not present in the film, and either staged for the cameras, or filmed and then discarded).
AvailabilityReleased as a single disc as detailed here, or the same disc is available as part of the Blind Dead Collection boxset, along with a bonus disc and detailed booklet. 
Region Region 1 (USA, North America) - NTSC
Other regions? An Anchor Bay UK release contains a similar quality version of the Spanish print of the film plus the trailers.
Cuts? The film is believed to be uncut. The print used is Spanish language.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 23rd October 2006.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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