El buque maldito (1974)

The third (and least) of Amando de Ossorio's Blind Dead movies, this is the only one not to use the same footage of the Templars rising from their graves or feature a flashback in which a topless maiden gets her heart ripped out and squeezed. It's the slowest, dullest, tamest and most makeshift of the quartet, and fairly perfunctory in its use of the recurring villains, who seem to be in this film simply because de Ossorio had the masks and costumes around. The blindness of the Templars in the first two films is forgotten and they are just floating about in a galleon in some supernatural fog, which has echoes of William Hope Hodgson (the way The Night of the Sea Gulls has some Lovecraft fillips) and also prefigures a little of the imagery in The Fog. The plot is pretty absurd, with shipping tycoon Jack Taylor and PR fashion consultant Maria Perschy sending two models out to get 'lost' in the Atlantic as a publicity stunt; they collide with the galleon, board it and get got... whereupon Jack and Maria, plus a thuggish minion, the whiny model he has tamely raped (why do so many of these films feature gratuitous rape scenes?) and a scholarly nerd who knows a bit of the new backstory (in the English dub, they aren't even Templars) turn up in a yacht far less impressive than you'd think a shipping tycoon would own. The unhappy band go aboard to squabble over some treasure and get picked off by the slow-moving waterlogged Knights (who, of course, don't have their horses this time round).

The other films are full of gore (albeit with rubbery pierced torsos) and nudity, but this - at least in the cut I saw - isn't; I'd guess that it's not a censored print for export, but a decision made for the Spanish version (maybe reflecting wavering censorship policies at home). The Templars are always striking-looking, and have a great moaning liturgical theme tune, but tend to stand around, or lurch slowly, requiring their victims to act extremely stupidly to get killed. The finale is frankly inadequate, with a tiny ship model burning like a paper lantern, though a beach-set epilogue, which at least in terms of locations leads to the next film, has stronger images (even if one repeated shot of a Templar rising from bathwater which pours out of its nose-hole is used to represent the whole horde coming out of the sea). The victim characters are uniformly nasty, venal, stupid, gaudily-dressed and disposable.
KIM NEWMAN

First published in this form here.


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