Friday, October 31, 2014

Return of the Evil Dead, Happy Halloween from Spain

What better way to celebrate Halloween than examining a movie from "The Tombs of the Blind Dead" series.  On August 28th we looked at "Tombs of the Blind Dead," and on September 15th we parsed "The Ghost Galleon."  Today we plow into 1973's "Return of the Evil Dead" (aka "El Ataque de los Muertos sin Ojos").  All of these movies emanate from Spain and are directed by Amando de Ossorio.  With plenty of virgin sacrifice carnage this film is set in a Portuguese village celebrating the overthrow of Satanic Templar knights, centuries ago.  Much like our Halloween, there are parties galore, heavy drinking, sanctioned and pre-marital sex, and costumes.  Of course, hundreds of villagers will die bloody deaths at the hand of resurrected fiends...but what a party!
The plot:  Way back when, Templar knights returning from Egypt took over a peaceful town in Portugal.  These knights, now Satan worshipers, practiced the black arts at the expense of the residents.  The most heinous act these fiends enacted against the poor schmucks was virgin sacrifice. The knights seized all the virgins they could (see picture above) and bled them to death with a sacrificial dagger, then drank their blood.  What a fool will do for immortality!  The townspeople rebelled, and while the knights slept off a night of heavy drinking, captured them.  The gutsy citizens burned them all at the stake, but not before burning out the eyes of their invaders.  As they charred, the knights promised to return and exact revenge on the town.  Fast forward five or six centuries.  The same town readies for a celebration commemorating the rebellion.  Jack (Tony Kendall) arrives to provide the fireworks show.  He meets the corrupt mayor (Fernando Sancho) and his beautiful skank, Vivian (Esperanza Roy).  These two are pictured below with one of their nemesis'.
Vivian is an interesting sort...apparently she has had sexual relations with most of the men she meets.  Jack is no exception, and right away the mayor knows that Jack and Vivian are sweet on each other.  Meanwhile, Marvin, the town's version of Renfield, kidnaps a beautiful virgin and sacrifices her over the burial ground of the knights.  When the girl's blood soaks into the earth, the knights rise out of their graves.  In town, Jack moves in on Vivian and the Mayor orders a hit on him.  On their way into town, the knights invade Monica's (Loreta Tovar) home and kill her lover.  The two were not married and should of known that pre-marital sex will get you skewered.  Monica escapes into town to warn the mayor, but the knights are on her tail.  The knights then kill most of the townspeople leaving Jack, Vivian, the mayor and his henchmen, Monica, Marvin, and a few others holed up in a church.  Though the knights seem to be held at bay, everyone of these survivors has their own agenda.  Betrayal and scheming act as the real enemy, and the knights only need to wait for opportunity.
Will Vivian pay the ultimate price for her sexual prowess, or will Jack be able to save her?  Are the resurrected Satanic knights a metaphor for the beat downs delivered upon the proletariat by the clergy and bourgeois?  Will Jack figure out a way to defeat or escape from the knights?  Lots of blood and screaming damsels highlight this horror film.  Oddly enough, many of the scenes will remind you of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."  Some of the scenes are intense, for example, when a five year old girl sees the knights murder her mom and dad.  This is a terrific horror film, and a worthy addition to your Halloween movie-thon.     


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