23rd Mar2021

‘Curse of the Blind Dead’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Aaron Stielstra, Alice Zanini, Francesca Pellegrini | Written by Francesco H. Aliberti, Lorenzo Paviano, Raffaele Picchio, Alessandro Testa | Directed by Raffaele Picchio

If you’re of a certain age the term “Blind Dead” will probably mean nothing to you, but for those of use who grew up in the 80s and lived through the pre-certification era of the UK genre scene – and to a lesser extent lived through those early 90s days of The Darkside magazine referencing Euro-horror aplenty, then the term Blind Dead conjures up a myriad things: atmospheric horror, zombies and some of the creepiest poster art to name a few. So when it was announced that another “Blind Dead” movie was set for release I couldn’t help but get a little excited…

This time round the horror of the blind dead comes from Italy rather than Spain, with Morituris director Raffaele Picchio taking the helm for what appears to be something of a reboot of the infamous Spanish zombie horror series, originally created by Amando de Ossorio.

I say reboot, as Curse of the Blind Dead starts out in the 14th-Century, when a group of Satan worshipping Knight Templars are captured during a ritual and sentenced to death by the locals – burning out their eyes so they cannot see their way out of hell (hence the “blind dead” moniker). However just before the execution, the knights swear to return from their graves to haunt the village and the nearby forest. Jumping forward centuries, into our very own post-apocalyptic future, as forewarned by the knights upon their execution; and a man, Michael (Aaron Stielstra) and his daughter Lily (Alice Zanini), try to survive against both the blind dead templar knights and a religious sect commanded by a mad preacher.

Oh, and did I mention the religious act are trying to recreate the very same demonic ritual that the knights templar were doing when they were captured and killed? And that Lily just happens to be pregnant with child, a child that needed for the ritual sacrifice?

Let’s be honest here. Curse of the Blind Dead, whilst based on the classic genre films of the 70s, is actually nothing like them. Gone is the gothic atmosphere and the stylish nature of Amando de Ossorio’s films and in comes a TON of gore. Though to be fair, de Ossorio’s films were pretty gory for the time. To be fair, the gore in Picchio’s movie is tremendous. Bodies are torn asunder: spines removed, faces torn apart, limbs severed, blood and guts (literally) spilled by the bucketload and – beware those of a weak stomach – even babies are slaughtered here. The violence of Curse of the Blind Dead is literally indiscriminate. And very, very gory.

In terms of the visuals, whilst the gothic nature of the original series has gone the titular blind dead make-up effects do pay homage to the 70s characters. Of course they have been updated for a modern audience, yet at the same time they do still keep that graven-faced look of de Ossorio’s characters. In some cases, at least in my opinion, they look even more like some of the artwork that accompanied these films rather than the original zombies themselves. Though I could have done without the ridiculous foley work that accompanies the blind dead’s creeping walk!

There’s a brief nod to the sublime horse-riding undead scenes of de Ossorio’s films towards the end of this one but not even that is enough to save Curse of the Blind Dead from being decidedly average. Mainly due the fact there’s not much story here – we get the flashback set-up; meet Michael and Lily who get in trouble with the cult; then once the blind dead show up the film is nothing more than a series of kill scenes, there’s literally no plot beyond that. It honestly feels like there was no idea behind Curse of the Blind Dead beyond “what would happen if the blind dead showed up in a post-apocalyptic future?” There’s also an odd choice to make the ritual sacrifice, that the knights templar were killed for in the opener, the possible saviour of humanity in this unforgiving post-apocalyptic future,,, At least I *think* that’s what happening, it’s not abundantly clear; though it is a bold idea to hang your film on but I’m not sure it’s one that works.

Curse of the Blind Dead is available on DVD and Digital, in the US, now from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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