“Night of the Seagulls” – Chris Luedtke

Here it is everyone, the finale to the infamous Blind Dead series. For those of you who suffered through The Ghost Galleon, I congratulate you and can safely say that the worst has been cleared. Night of the Seagulls is the apology note that this series needed after that atrocity. So, has it all been worth it? Well, I can’t say we have a legendary final installment, but what I can say is that Night of the Seagulls, along with Tombs of the Blind Dead and Return of the Evil Dead, helps to give the series a very solid stance as a collective horror piece.

Night of the Seagulls have the evil Templar Knights coming back one last time to drink the blood of beautiful virgin girls in order to maintain their ghastly existence. This time they are terrorizing a small village near their castle, returning every seven or so years for a few straight days to feast on the blood of the innocent. Well, wouldn’t you know it, Dr. Henry Stein (Víctor Petit) and his wife Joan (María Kosty) have arrived in town to stay for a few days at the local doctor’s house (Javier de Rivera). They quickly find out what the evil Templar Knights are up to and decide to take a stand against them. But they won’t be fighting just the Templars — the locals are against them too.

Night of the Seagulls is an interesting final installment. As expected, the legend is changed once again (as if they hadn’t done enough of that already). It’s nice to see that the monster costumes and symbols remain intact throughout the series. Amando de Ossorio once again does the writing and directing. It’s everything we’ve already come to expect from him. He gives a little homage to all of the films so far but doesn’t really give us anything new to feast our eyes on, minus the ever-changing legend story. I’ll give it points for consistency in its style, though.

Characters and themes are those we’ve seen in a thousand different horror films. The righteous hero, the damsel in distress, the creepy anti-outsider villagers, and the villains that want to slaughter the innocent. Without going too much further into that, we can see the formula is in check. It would have been nice to see some changes to the stereotypes. Granted, it’s expected, but that’s the part that sucks. It even begins to beg the question, “If I know what’s gonna happen, why am I watching it?” The answer to this is false hope. We want the expectations to be exceeded, but alas, I only found mine met with disappointment. Joan seriously deserved to die. Her incessant falling and non-survival instinct had me begging for Henry to give up on her and let her be ripped apart by a legion of skeletons. I know these things are supposed to create tension, but for myself, they just created a more annoying experience.

Camerawork and scenes are also nothing new. As I mentioned earlier, Night of the Seagulls follows the horror formula very well — and by very well, I mean nothing has been reinvented or updated. I know this film is from 1975, and many horror standards had been set by then. The horror at the castle has been done many times before this. Sure, the creatures still look good even by today’s standards, but slow motion scenes of the Templar Knights riding through the water just feels so blah. Their slow movement is also something that should be noted. Has no one ever though to use a blunt object or try to outrun these guys when they get off of their horses? I know I’m nitpicking now, but they just aren’t very fearsome foes. Then again, the limitations of puppets back then can’t really compare to CGI nowadays.

If you liked the first two Blind Dead movies and need an apology note for the third, then here it is. I know I’ve done more complaining than complimenting, but there jut isn’t much to compliment. It stands out as its own piece in terms of what happens within the plot, but as a horror film, it is riddled with cliches and pseudo-tension. Again, it isn’t anything you haven’t already seen, but it is one of the better ones in the series (not quite as good as Return). Check it out only if you’ve seen the other ones.

Rating: ★★½☆

-Chris Luedtke

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