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Franchise Friday - Scream of the Blind Dead




What the hell did I just watch?


Those were my first words upon the conclusion of yet another new entry in the Blind Dead films: Scream of the Blind Dead. I think this is the only time where after watching a movie, I’ve gone directly to the director’s commentary in the hope that what I just saw can be explained to me. And in a way it was…but it flew completely in the face of how the packaging describes the film. More on that in a bit, but for now, I’m going to write up a synopsis that better represents what you’re actually going to see.


As Virginia wrestles with her past, she feels herself drawn to the remains of the Templar’s castle where many have lost their lives to the Blind Dead. Getting closer and closer, both her deeds and her regret surface…just as she discovers she’s not alone in these ruins. Have the Templars arisen once more? Or is it something far more sinister and unforgiving?


The way Scream of the Blind Dead is sold on the back of the DVD case, you would think it was a combination of a requel and an interquel. Heavily suggested that it takes place during the original Tombs of the Blind Dead as Virginia leave the train, uncomfortable with how Bette and Roger are behaving, I will admit that it draws heavy inspiration from the first 40 or so minutes of the opening film in de Ossario’s horror franchise. But as an actual piece of the franchise…not so much. Let me see if I can explain.


The opening of Tombs of the Blind Dead (the Spanish version anyway) shows that longtime friends Bette and Virginia have some romantic tension between them…for each other. In fact, throughout the film we find that Bette has no taste for men. Thus, returning to the first third of the film, one wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that maybe the reason Virginia leaves the train isn’t because her friend, Roger, is flirting very heavily with Bette, but because Bette isn’t turning her attention more thoroughly to Virginia. It’s this nugget that forms the core of Scream of the Blind Dead. In this case, our modern Virginia is both running from and being chased by her own sapphic dalliances and the repercussions of them. Now, that’s not me getting on some high-horse and wagging my finger, but to clarify what I’m saying would definitely fall into spoiler territory…so I look forward to the hate-mail and tweets.


So, there is some connection to the Blind Dead franchise, however, what the director will tell you on the commentary and what I found so bloody confusing is one simple, solid fact: there are no Templars in this movie. The film has nothing to do with them.


Wait…WHAT?


While the director states that what he’s doing here is an impression of De Ossario, thus making it a Blind Dead film, I hate to break the bad news to him: If there aren’t any satanic, desiccated, long dead, bloodthirsty Templar Knights, THEN IT’S NOT A BLIND DEAD MOVIE. As Joe Bob would say, do not make me tell you this again.

This ends up being a real shame though, since unlike Curse of the Blind Dead, director Chris Alexander really captures the atmosphere that made de Ossario’s films so unique. The solitary female “knight” that stalks Virginia evokes the old effects well, so much more than the previous entry. It’s more than that though, it’s the atmosphere the film creates not only through the “knight” but through the music and the locations. All of this comes together in such a way that I do believe Alexander when he says he’s a student of de Ossario (not directly of course). He captures so well the dread that the elder director was able to create, so while it’s sad that this isn’t really a part of the series, you could certainly say that it is a worthy spiritual successor.


Now, since I brought up the locations, there is one thing that I need to gripe about…and, to be fair, Alexander in his commentary concedes as much, but the ruins of the “castle” look too manicured, too well cared for. And sure enough, this particular location was filmed near Toronto at a museum showcasing the remains of an old mill. Given their shoestring budget, you’d have to be a dick to hold it against them, that’s true…but unfortunately this appearance does take something away from the atmosphere of it all. The ruins should signify the desolation, the loneliness…the knowledge that no one is even remotely close enough to come to your aid should the Templars come. And the Templars WILL come.


I guess I should comment on the actors…but really there isn’t too much to speak to, one way or the other. Lone Fleming, Bette from the original film, lends her voice to the proceedings and does so in such a way to help amplify the creepy atmosphere Alexander creates. Stephanie Delorme and Thea Munster as Virginia and the “knight” respectively serve their purposes. It’s clear that Munster has studied the de Ossario films and patterns her movements off of the dreaded Templars presented therein. Delorme’s Virginia is a little tougher to rate. Nothing she does breaks the atmosphere of the piece although her performance does help convey that this is a lower budget picture. Still, she brings at least 2 of the three Drive-In B’s…and that earns her keep in this film.


Even though there seems to be a negative for every positive in Scream of the Blind Dead, the fact that director Chris Alexander has seemingly all but mastered creating the atmosphere de Ossario so excelled at in his films is almost enough to forgive any of the aforementioned foibles. Both the performance and the costume of Thea Munster certainly add to this. While you could also say that the film doesn’t overstay its welcome, running only 40-odd minutes in length, the fact that Alexander nails the atmosphere does make me wonder what he could do with a feature length effort. If he heads in that direction though, there’s one thing he HAS to do to get full marks: bring in the goddamn Templars! Their exclusion in this film is really the only scar on an otherwise worthy entry into the series. Admittedly though, it is a pretty big omission. While that should knock the film down into Plain Cat territory, the fact that I was able to watch this so close to the failure that was Curse of the Blind Dead, well, whether for right or for wrong, that does boost the film into low-end Happy Cat territory. If you’re a fan of the series, of the two newer additions, this is probably the one you should check out.




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