October 17, 2010

The Ghost Galleon (Review)

The Ghost Galleon (1974)

(aka Horror of the Zombies)
(aka  El buque maldito)

Director: Amando de Ossorio

1.5 / 5 zedheads

So, Amando de Ossorio already had two "Blind Dead" films under his belt by 1974. The first film was a mildly interesting horror film about flesh-eating and blood-drinking mummifies with Satantic longevity. The second  film was a far more ambitious and impressive retcon of the Knights' origins with plenty of horse-riding, mummified Knights that butcher villagers.  How do you follow that up? 

Bring the Blind Dead to Manhattan? No, that's too far away from the production offices in Europe. Put the Blind Dead in space? No budget for those sets or effects. Oh, I don't know. Put'em on a boat? 

"Blind Dead on a boat, 
They're on a boat
Everybody look at them
'Cause they're sailing on a boat"

And so we get the weakest film in the Blind Dead series: The Ghost Galleon. Noemi (Barbara Rey) is a bikini model worried about the disappearance of her friend, a fellow model. When she confronts her boss Lillian (Maria Perschy), Noemi finds out that her friend has been hired by Howard Tucker (Jack Taylor), a wealthy entrepreneur, and Lillian for a publicity stunt. Noemi's friend has been hired to sit out in the ocean on a new brand of pleasure boat and pretend to be stranded in hopes of being found by passing ships. The rescue of a beautiful girl, they figure, will generate headlines and publicity for the boat. No, it doesn't make much sense, but stranger publicity stunts have happened.

I'm on a boat motherfucker, take a look at me
Straight flowing on a boat on the deep blue sea
 Unfortunately, the girls on the boat go missing, so Noemi, Lillian, Howard, his hired muscle, and a professor (where's Gilligan?) try to find them. On the ocean, they encounter a mysterious 18th century ship gliding through a vale of fog. They board the ship and, predictably, fall prey to the Blind Dead, who have inexplicably given up their equestrian pursuits for a sleepy nautical adventure.

Sleepy is the optimal word to describe Ghost Galleon. The film starts slow and never really picks up much pace. The ship sets look very convincing and atmospheric, but barely anything ever happens on it. No shuffle board. No buffets. What a shitty cruise.

Busting five knots, wind whipping out my coat
You can't stop me motherfucker, 'cause I'm on a boat
The Blind Dead take a long time to rise from their coffins, and even when they do rise they seem strangely lackadaisical about the whole thing. They don't even look as cool as they used to. Robbed of their swords, the Blind Dead's only weapons are their rigid and dried up skeletal hands, which are awkwardly and unconvincingly puppeted by the actors. We're expected to believe the Knights can tear at flesh with these hands and drag a woman to her doom, but the Knights look pathetic on-screen. There is only one on-screen kill at the hands of the Knights, but it too drags on, and on, and on, and on. Despite the numerous characters on the boat, most die by one another's hands or in accidents. Even a final scene of Knights rising up from the sea is not enough to save Ghost Galleon from a pervasive and dreary sea sickness.

Fuck land, I'm on a boat, motherfucker
Fuck trees, I climb buoys, motherfucker
Ghost Galleon is also known for its embarrassing special effects. While the interiors of the ship look great, exterior shots of the ship are clearly of model ships in a tub of water. When the ship burns down at the end of the film, it's like watching someone's toy boat after a cruel spectator flicks his lit cigarette into the sail.

I'm the king of the world, on a boat like Leo
If you're on the shore, then you're sure not me, oh
Get the fuck up, this boat is real
Ghost Galleon is a tepid return to the Blind Dead well. It's worth your time and money to skip over Ghost Galleon if you're collecting the Blind Dead films as separate DVDs and not as part of the beautiful Blind Dead Collection coffin set from Blue Underground.

But, hey, at least you get to see the Blind Dead on a boat. 

"Blind Dead on a boat, they're on a boat
Take a good hard look
At the motherfucking boat"