Thursday, January 25, 2007
Movie Review: EL BUQUE MALDITO
aka THE GHOST GALLEON
aka HORROR OF THE ZOMBIES
Directed by Amando de Ossorio
Based on my film viewing experience, if you are an attractive woman between 17 and 30 years of age and your in a low budget motion picture made in either Italy or Spain during the 70's, there is an 80% chance you are playing a high fashion model. If your an attractive woman who is older than 30, then you will probably be playing the head of the modeling agency. The Ghost Galleon adds a good deal of credence to my theory as a movie about undead knights running amok on a decrepit ocean vessel, opens with a fashion shoot. I'm guessing that by making your female characters models it allows you to place them in odd and precarious situation in very little clothing, if any. For instance, stranded on a small boat in the middle of the sea with only a thin whisper of a bikini to protect you from the elements.
Amando de Ossorio 3rd entry into the Blind Dead films rarely gets the love or attention that his previous films, Tombs of the Blind Dead & Return of the Evil Dead do. I think mainly because the first half of the film is so utterly weird & preposterous. Of course this is also the reason I find myself so found of the film. 2 models have been hired by a boating tycoon who is about to introduce a new brand new line of motorboats. The models are to take the boat out into open water, act as if they are stranded and wait for passing ships to approach. Once they are picked up and brought back home the news outlets and paparazzi would then instantly be drawn to such a story as two young hot models rescued from certain dehydration and fatigue from a passing vessel. The resulting publicity would then attract more attention to the motorboat they were riding. Sounds ridiculous, but with today's era of wacky inter-net campaigns and Geico commercials it also almost sounds plausible.
Of course once the two ladies find themselves set adrift they find that passing ships are few to come by. While radioing back to home base they encounter a think fog. Drifting deeper into the think soup they come across The Ghost Galleon. A decaying dilapidated ship which comes across as the inspiration for The Black Pearl, the pirate ship in those Johnny Depp films the kids like so much. It really depends on the shot however, as some glimpses of the Galleon our obviously a model boat floating in a sink somewhere in Spain. Once the girls boat lines up with the Galleon an amazing thing happens that I feel has gone mostly unnoticed. In your typical horror situation, once the eye candy finds what is obviously a haven for death and a path toward certain doom, they run right towards it. In The Ghost Galleon however, one of the models (the more attractive one in my opinion played by Blanca Estrada) stays in the motorboat. Something in her tells her, "You know what, uh uh". Granted she does climb aboard the Galleon the next day, but the fact that she didn't "run toward the danger" the moment she came across it, was a welcome surprise. Of course once on board both women meet their fate at the hands of the undead Knights Templar. With the 2 models disappearance, a rag tag group of men and woman then make their way out to the same local where the fog was reported and eventually they too find themselves face to face with the Galleon and her crew.
The best part of any Blind Dead film are those scenes featuring the undead Knights themselves. No background information is given about their origin this time, which is in striking contrast to the previous two Bind Dead films. Both of which offer some what conflicted accounts to the Templar origins. I personally prefer the original where their eyes are peaked out by crows. But having ones eyes burned out before being executed is also a deliciously macabre visual.
The Knights move slow but they always seem to out number their prey. One minute their are 4 approaching, only to turn around and face 20. It's as if every possible crevice or crack in the ships wood could hold one of the undead. This adds to a dark and deeply oppressing atmosphere and some of the most striking visuals in the Blind Dead series. The final scene where several knights walk out of the water onto the shore in constant pursuit of the remaining castaways, is a particularly memorable image. Such a scene is often used in zombie films (ex. Zombie Lake, George A Romero's Land of the Dead) but the Knights in particular stand out as being deader than most. When they rise out of the sea, water cascades from inside their skulls out of their eye sockets & on to the rocks and sand below. The visual effects and costumes for the knights are as impressive today as they must have been when they first took to horse back and galloped across the big screen.
It feels a little rushed here and there and you do you get the feeling that the filmmakers where grasping for a different angle to approach the Knights, but with its weird premise, thick atmosphere & striking visuals, The Ghost Galleon is worth checking out. My hopes are that this series is revised and that next time we find the Knights on the Moon. All we have to do now is figure out how to get some hot models up there.
Review by The Undead Film Critic!