JULY 13 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS
FROM BRETT H. AT OH-THE-HORROR.COM
Ahhh, the end of the road. There’s nothing like finishing up a quality horror franchise for the very first time. Unfortunately, the last one is usually the worst in the series. But, sometimes Part 4s get pretty lucky. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter proved to be the series’ most entertaining, Bride of Chucky stitched Chucky up in a witty, flashy affair, Halloween 4 saw the return of Michael Myers, Citizen Toxie easily topped the rest of the Toxic Avenger flicks and the Exorcist series loved numero four so much that it got two of them! Most series never quite get to part 4 and if they did, it proved to be a final nail in the coffin. Ghoulies IV, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, House IV and Mirror, Mirror 4 all closed the books on their storylines and others like The Howling 4 and Children of the Corn 4 left fans’ minds the second they shut off the TV. At this point, some of these series’ didn’t warrant many, if any, sequels to begin with and were viewed upon name recognition only, and for good reasons. In 1975, Amando de Ossorio unsealed the Tombs of the Blind Dead for the fourth and last time and all I can say is my exact feelings on this film lie somewhere within this paragraph.
Henry (Victor Petit) is a new doctor in a small, coastal village. The problem is that the secretive townspeople are having none of him. It turns out the doc turned up at the wrong place at the wrong time as once every seven years, for seven straight days, seven different sacrifices must be made to the Knights Templar in order to keep them from razing their village. The doctor’s wife employs a young villager to aide in… whatever she helped with and it turns out that she is the next victim on the cult’s hit list. In a panic, Henry and his wife try to protect the young woman and a disfigured outcast from the hands of the murderers who will do anything to keep their little deal with the devil secret. For the last time, humanity must go toe to toe with the 600 year-old Knights Templar.
Night of the Seagulls is without a doubt the plainest entry in the Blind Dead series. It’s unfortunate that de Ossorio’s script would utilize a cookie cutter plot in the film that would inevitably finish up his trademark chronicle. Part of the problem is there isn’t a single fork in the road from beginning to end. Anyone with no series experience whatsoever could probably figure out where the story was going and the series fan raises his eyebrow at about minute 20 and realizes that if de Ossorio doesn’t pitch us a curveball, it’s going to be a pretty dull affair. Fortunately, the Templars still look great and make use of the horses that were sorely missed in the third entry, The Ghost Galleon. Picking up perhaps where Galleon left off, the Templars now come from the sea to a secluded beach to snatch up victims left to them by the townsfolk as payment for leaving their village alone. I guess the bloodthirsty Templars just got lazy.
Familiar stock footage from the first film is once again introduced and once more there is copious amounts of creepy smoke and haze. There is a bit more blood in this one than in Galleon, but much less than Return of the Evil Dead and for the first and only time coming from the Templars themselves. The movie does pick up at the end and gives the viewer a good climax and some great imagery, but the trek there is a slightly tedious one. It’s unfortunate that the idea of the Blind Dead hunting by sound is gone and it’s definitely the major drawback the last two flicks in the series have. The first two brought something unique to the table and these two films skipped around it in favor of cheap thrills, repetitiveness and just overall taking the easy way out. It’s quite the shame considering even using the familiar topics the viewer is subjected to, a little better script would have made the all the difference in enhancing those same, great aspects that every Blind Dead film has from the haunting monsters alone.
Blue Underground’s DVD is much like the rest of their Blind Dead releases. At best, it’s clear and well defined, at worst incredibly grainy and hazy, perhaps the worst looking besides the English cut of Tombs. The mono sound holds up its end of the bargain and the option to watch the film in English or Spanish is on the table. Special features are thin with a trailer and stills, but the limited edition box set offers a bonus disc and a great booklet. As I conclude viewing of the series, I can say it was very worthwhile; even Night of the Seagulls managed to put a few smiles on my face. The Templars are as great as ever and put on a great show in all four films and overall the box set is the only way to go if you’re at all interested in Spanish horror’s most spellbinding creations, The Blind Dead. As for this fourth entry on its own, Rent it!