167. Horror of the Zombies aka The Ghost Galleon aka The Blind Dead 3 aka El buque maldito (1974)
Director: Amando de Ossorio
Writer: Amando de Ossorio
From: Cult Cinema; Drive-In
A publicity stunt involving models stranded on a boat goes awry when they’re met not by a shipping vessel, but an 18th-Century haunted ship.
We follow The Murder Mansion with another GATT’d Spanish film that ups the ante on that piece by being filled with neither incident nor energy. The story begins with models at a photo shoot. Lillian, the photograph and boss, is confronted by the inappropriately dubbed Noemi about the whereabouts of her roommate and fellow model Kathy.
Turns out Kathy has signed on for a high-concept ad campaign for sports manufacturer Howard Tucker. Kathy and another model have purposefully stranded themselves in the ocean along a major shipping route waiting for a ship to find them. Instead of a commercial vessel, though, they’re struck by a seemingly abandoned ghost ship. Tucker calls the stunt off, but the helicopter he sends out can’t find any trace of the girls. Sergio, Tucker’s assistant, takes Lillian captive to prevent her from sharing the story.
At the ship, Kathy’s partner has climbed aboard and disappeared to the sounds of screams. Kathy’s fallen asleep, though, and doesn’t hear. When she wakes up, she finds the boat’s radio no longer works so she climbs onto the ship where, eventually, zombies rise from coffins in the hold and kill her.
It takes a while for this to happen. So long in fact that I thought the material with Noemi investigating her missing roommate was cut in after the fact to a different movie about a zombie ship. I was wrong, though, because now Tucker, Sergio, Lillian, and Noemi, against her will, travel to the ship along with a scientist who tells them a story about a “ghost galleon” being spotted in that region.
They find the ship, get trapped on board, and Noemi flashes back to times with Kathy where Noemi basically bullied Kathy into becoming a model, sending her down the path that led to this boat. While everyone’s asleep, Noemi searches the ship for Kathy only to find the zombies instead. They slash her throat, drag her down a series of steps, across the floor in the hold, then finally kill her via dismemberment. Seriously, her death takes forever. The majority of it is her just wordlessly howling for help and no one responding. It’s a curious choice for the movie because, if there’s a “good guy,” it’s Noemi. The scientist is sort of neutral, but Noemi is involved because she’s trying to save her friend from the unscrupulous Tucker and Lillian. Then she ends up with the most drawn-out on-screen death. This, by the way, is after Sergio assaults her while she’s being held prisoner.
Did I not mention that? Yeah, you can read that as not happening—the movie cuts away before anything specific can be said to have happened—but you know what’s happening after that cut away.
So the movie’s real boring and then has the sympathetic character die slowly. Whee.
Everyone wakes up and the scientist finds documents on the boat indicating that it’s hauling the cursed corpses of the Knights Templar (was there ever a time when people weren’t obsessed with this Da Vinci Code BS?). The zombies awaken after the group finds a secret room filled with treasure (and a satanic skull with rams horns) which leads to a hilarious shot of Sergio doing a full-on football run through the zombies. The group escapes and the scientist drives the zombies back by performing a minor exorcism, but that only buys them an extra day.
At the last minute, they throw all the coffins into the ocean, the magic surrounding the ship starts to fade, and Lillian, Tucker, and Sergio jump in the ocean to swim to some now visible land. The scientist stays behind because he can’t swim. The trio are using a plank of wood to float and it’s sinking because Sergio is carrying a load of treasure with him. He attacks Tucker rather than give up his treasure so Lillian knocks Sergio out, leaving him to drown. She and Tucker make it to land and pass out on the shore.
On the ship, the satanic skull lights up and the ship catches on fire. The scientist chokes to death from the smoke and the whole thing goes up in flames. Meanwhile, the zombies have risen from their coffins and march onto the shore of the island Lillian and Tucker are on. The pair awakens to find themselves surrounded as the zombies reach forward. The End.
Not nearly so much fun as The Murder Mansion which wasn’t particularly fun to begin with. The movie is clearly built around the idea of “scantily-clad women in peril!” but fails to live up to any part of that promise, be it the “scantily-clad” part or the “peril.” I’d say even the exclamation point is a stretch. This is a film that calls for very sedate punctuation.
There is some unintentional hilarity in the models constantly running around in high heels—Noemi trying to escape her prison while running across the very echoy concrete floor in her heels, people’s heels getting stuck in the ship while trying to escape zombies, twice—but that’s not enough to carry the movie.
Now, I’m not one to say you have to show the monster in the first reel, but you gotta give us something—tone, character, exposition, something. This flick’s got nothing for a good forty minutes if not more. It was a disappointment because I was hoping for a lot more cheese when I heard the dubbing. Noemi’s voice is so miscast, but nothing else here rises to that level of camp.
As I mentioned, this movie is protected under GATT, but it’s not something I’d encourage people to look for anyway.