Latarnia presents CASTILIAN CRIMSON
The Spanish Horror Film





Director: Amando de Ossorio
Screenplay: Amando de Ossorio
Music: Anton Garcia Abril
Cast: Lone Fleming, Cesar Burner, Helen Harp, Joseph Thelman, Maria Silva
Running time: 90 minutes




Taking the house-under-siege elements of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and the decayed historical atmosphere elicited by Spain's greatest writer of the macabre Gustavo Adolfo Becquer (1836-1870), Amando de Ossorio created a compelling original mythos, embedded in European history and landscape, which managed to spawn four films of differing strengths--LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO (US: TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD), EL ATAQUE DE LOS MUERTOS SIN OJOS (US: RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD), EL BUQUE MALDITO (US: HORROR OF THE ZOMBIES), and LA NOCHE DO LOS GAVIOTAS (US: NIGHT OF THE DEATH CULT). Of this terror quartet, LA NOCHO DE TERROR CIEGO is undoubtedly the best, a chilling, atmospheric nail-bitter that is ultimately sombre and haunting in its savage nihilism. From the first shots of the abandoned ruins that once housed the nefarious acts and bloodstained rituals of the medieval religious sect known as the Templar Knights to the shocking freeze-frame sequence that ends the film, we are aware of being in the hands of a talented master of the macabre who guides us through a communal ritual of mounting fear, stylish brutality and demonic, existential destruction.

This being a Euro-horror film, it is not without exploitative aspects. A much-touted lesbian sequence is quite chaste, however, offering nothing more than a kiss and a hand traveling up a thigh, and certain opportunities for nude prancing, courtesy of the Virginia character, are left in viewer fantasy land. Nevertheless, LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO presents, in its flashback sequence (placed at the beginning of the film in the picture's American theatrical release and first video appearance on the Paragon label, but properly positioned on the Elite LD and Anchor Bay DVD) a notorious blood ritual segment involving a long-haired blonde that will have even hardened misogynists wincing. Aware of this scene's impact and sensationalism, de Ossorio would repeat the woman-as-sacrifice ritual in other films as well.

In interviews given after the General Franco period, de Ossorio would claim a political texture to the Blind Dead series. According to him, the undead Templars represented the fascist rule that Spain had been under for decades while their victims were the general masses and, in particular, the young. I don't necessarily buy this, as I think de Ossorio was more interested in pure horror exploitation than anything else--anything else besides having a success on his hands, but the Templars can certainly represent stern authority figures if one so chooses.

Bold, uncompromising, wonderfully original (the borrowings from the aforementioned Romero film notwithstanding), LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO is a masterpiece of Spanish horror.

-- Reviewed by Mirek

Widescreen DVD (coupled with the next film in the Blind Dead series, RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD) and viewer reviews available on Amazon.com
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