So here we are, on the fourth and final entry of Spanish director Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead series. Over the course of the series, the Templars have been:
- Revenants who emerge from their graves whenever anybody trespasses in their haunted cathedral
- Revenants who emerge from their grave either because of the Village Idiot’s human sacrifice, or because it’s the 500th anniversary of their execution by peasants who had enough
- Revenants who got dug up with their treasure and took over a galleon to lure ships into “another dimension” for blood sacrifice to continue their immortal but sucky existence.
In Night of the Seagulls, the Templars are lording over a remote fishing village where every seven years, the villagers must turn over one of their children (preferably pretty girls, apparently) on seven consecutive nights, or the Templars will kill everybody. This happened once before, we are told, though why there’s still a village there is never addressed.
We don’t even get to find that out until the mid-point of the picture; Most of our time is spent with the new doctor who has been assigned to the village (Victor Petit) and his wife (Maria Kosti), who are told by the departing doctor:
- Don’t go out at night
- Don’t get involved in anything
- Transfer out as soon as possible
They of course ignore all of these good pieces of advice, especially when the orphan girl they’ve hired as a maid (Sandra Mozarowsky) is chosen as one night’s sacrifice. The doctor frees her in the nick of time, which means there is a Templar get-together at his house.
As I said, the backstory (which changes with each successive Blind Dead movie) isn’t revealed until the midpoint, and the appearances by the Templars to that point feel rather rote and uninspired. Some footage is obviously recycled from the first movie, and though there is one instance of the most famous of the Templar’s traits – that they are blind and have to hunt by sound – that remains a factor that also received dwindling attention as the series progressed (I also have a question about the efficacy of hearing-based predators in a locale with constant rolling surf and seagulls, but let’s get on with it).
Once we get into zombie siege territory the movie takes off. The doctor’s ramshackle residence is pretty indefensible (again, the opportunity for the sound of hammering boards over windows being what attracts the zombies is wasted), and those flimsy boards are no match for ghouls wielding broadswords. The Templars slowly make their way in, and it is a pretty effective sequence, even if there are a couple of side-trips into the realm of nonsense. The fact that the heroes discover the Templars are very flammable and do not exploit that knowledge is, amazingly, not the stupidest thing that is done.
On the even-numbered films in his trademark series, de Ossorio also destroys the Templars at the end (Oooh, spoilers for a 40 year-old movie). The method used here is so obvious that you wonder why the villagers didn’t freaking do it years ago.
Night of the Seagulls does have its good points – the zombie siege, the fact that the Templars are apparently worshipping Dagon – but it is dragged down by tedium. de Ossorio is a firm believer in the magic of threes, which usually bears some tasty cinematic fruit – but going through the sacrifice ritual three times, without the Templars being portrayed with the same awful decaying majesty of the previous films, and no build in suspense, brings the series to a close in a less than satisfying manner.
Damn near every clip on YouTube is too freaking dark, so be warned: