Ghost Galleon, The (1974)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2010-10-17 19:07

Written and directed by: Amando de Ossorio
Starring: Barbara Rey, Blanca Estrada, Manuel de Blas & Jack Taylor

Reviewed by: Brett H.

“We're in the middle of a nightmare. Neither this fog or this ship are real.”

After discussing Part II’s in the Return of the Evil Dead review, it only makes sense to start talking trips when taking a look at the third Blind Dead film, The Ghost Galleon. Sometimes the third instalments involve an even greater decline in overall quality and budget, but I still wouldn’t give them up for the world. Major franchise horrors often revive themselves as they hit the trilogy marker; Friday the 13th Part III turned out to be the best entry in the series at that time and according to most fans, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a perennial series favorite. Hell, people may not remember The Exorcist 2 existed had it not been for the extraordinary Exorcist III: Legion and it goes without saying that the third Evil Dead movie grew to be the most popular entry in the series thanks in large part to a cult home video audience that dispersed itself into the mainstream. Third parts are often gimmicky, thanks to 3D effects and sometimes they go completely off the beaten track like in Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Many times they prove to be the weakest points of a franchise, as apparent in Scream 3 and Mother of Tears. For damn sure, the Slumber Party Massacre series hit rock bottom with the abysmal conclusion of its “trilogy”. It is rare, however, that the man who directed the first and second would be back for third film, but Amando de Ossorio stuck with his creation and went in a slightly different direction with The Ghost Galleon. The question on everyone’s mind; Will it sink or swim?

To advertise his new line of boats, a rich political candidate/businessman pays two young ladies to become “lost” at sea and survive on one of his boats. The girls survive all right for the first day or so, but soon encounter patches of thick fog and excruciating heat. Their speedboat collides with a ship and springs a leak and one of the women decides to take her chances and board the much larger, but dilapidated galleon. The other eventually loses radio contact and encounters extreme fatigue and is unable to bail the water from the entrepreneur’s boat. With contact lost, the politician has no choice but to assemble a makeshift rescue team and head into the sea to save the young ladies to deflect potential media backlash. Alongside a professor with knowledge of the occult, they head into the waters to seek a legendary ghost ship leading to another dimension that he believes swallowed the missing girls up. Little do they know of the terrors that await them when they discover the occupants of the ancient ship are the corpses of the Knights Templar… a group of Satanists who dine on the blood of the innocent for immortality.

The Ghost Galleon takes the Blind Dead from their archaic graveyards to the deep blue sea with moderate results. Unfortunately, the budget has been severely slashed this time around and while de Ossorio does his best to work around this hindrance with a ton of murky fog and dark photography, the “gigantic” Ghost Galleon proves to be little more than a model ship in a bathtub. Gone is the frantic pacing from Return of the Evil Dead, replacing the action with more slow plodding horde-like tension much like in the original, Tombs of the Blind Dead. While not done with nearly as much subtlety or mounting distress, The Ghost Galleon plays out to nothing more or less than a good drive-in movie from a classic series.

Despite the fact that we don’t see a Templar in the opening half hour, the last hour features the ghouls in fine form with de Ossorio oftentimes showing off his creatures under more light than usual, giving fans a better face to face look at the Knight’s rotted visage. The backstory is similar to the preceding Blind Dead films, except this time the Knights ended up on a captain’s boat after finding their secrets to eternal life. Somehow they must have found the power to alter dimensions (or so the kooky professor explains), or perhaps this should alter the way we perceive the first two films in the series. As much as I missed the setting of the original two films on solid ground with the Templars getting their vengeance, it’s fun to see them stalk prey on their own ghost ship. If I never seen it with my own eyes, I’d think it was some intriguing internet fan fiction, but de Ossorio makes it work well and at the very least tries to take the series to a different level predominantly in character depth of his Satanist horde.

Adding another factor into the equation is treasure on their ship, which I can only assume the Blind Dead must protect at all costs in a slightly Fog-ish subplot. This gels well with the already vampiric tendencies of the blood craving Templar zombie-minded mummies that look like they’ve stepped out of a Lucio Fulci movie. Atmosphere on the ship isn’t quite as creepy as stalking abandoned towns, but the fog machine never gets a break and the familiar chant music from the earlier films is present here as well. The gore is toned down from the second movie, if not for a good dismemberment, this one would get the barely bloody marker on the ol’ Carnage Count. Nudity? Non-existent. What Galleon also has in common with Tombs is in its ending, which lets the viewer indulge on big, chilling high shots of Templars in a downbeat denouement that we want to see, thankfully paving the way for another inevitable sequel.

Unlike previous Blind Dead DVDs, Blue Underground presents The Ghost Galleon with a single, uncut version with English or Spanish audio. Enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs, Galleon has never looked better (I know, since it’s miles ahead of the old Brentwood DVD), but still houses a good amount of grain. The detail is fine, but the film is dark (which seems to be a given in the series) and some things are hard to see. Nevertheless, certain choices in cinematography render the Blind Dead ghouls easier to see at some moments than ever, which is a great selling point. The audio is mono and clear in both the English and Spanish cuts. Special features are confined to promotional trailers and a stills gallery, but the limited box set of all four Blind Dead films houses more goodies for the serious fan. It is also available as Horror of the Zombies in a cut, full frame version on a couple Brentwood sets that would definitely suffice in terms of cost if it weren’t missing the aforementioned dismemberment. The Ghost Galleon takes the Blind Dead series into fun, fly-by-night, mindless drive-in fodder, but it could have been much worse. It’s no classic, but I would be happy to board this ship anytime I get the hankering for some Blind Dead. Rent it!

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