May 26, 2014

Movie Review: The Ghost Galleon

The Ghost Galleon, also known as Horror of the Zombies, was released way back in 1974 and was the third film in the blind dead series, following 1972's Tombs of the Blind Dead and Return of the Evil Dead in 1973. They all seem to be connected by style but not by narrative, more or less exercises on a theme. All of the films were written and directed by Amando de Ossorio and were successful to wildly varying degrees. In this case, we are given some nice atmosphere and great looking dead, but everything else is half baked.

Virtually everything about The Ghost Galleon feels half done. It is almost as if he had an idea in his head, found an old ship set he could use, but only had a short amount of time to use it for. So, they decided to move forward with a sketch of a script, making everything else up as they go along. This makes the movie uneven and awfully draggy. On occasion there are moments that could lead to a better movie, but the lack of planning (an assumption on my part) results in the moments leading nowhere.

The story begins with a model, Noemi (Barbara Rey), wondering what has happened to her roommate, fellow model Kathy (Blanca Estrada). It turn out that she is participating in a publicity stunt for a boat salesman, Howard Tucker (Jack Taylor). The idea is that the two models will be left drifting for a month, only to be rescued, thus proving the durability of the boat. Or some such nonsense. The very idea of a stunt like that is ridiculous.

Now, the problem is that Noemi knows about the stunt and might go to the police. She is effectively kidnapped (and nearly raped by Tucker's crony, Sergio). Meanwhile, out in the ocean, the girls have been drifting and have slipped into a thick fog bank. Out of this fog bank a large ship appears. It also appears that it has no crew. Of course, the girls split and board the ship. Seems logical.

Back on shore, Tucker consults a historian, Dr. Gruber (Carlos Lemos). He explains of damned Templar Knights and a ship that exists in another dimension. Something like that anyway Tucker, Gruber, Sergio, and Noemi head off to find this ghostly ship to try and find the missing girls.

Meanwhile, on the ship the girls are creeping around the ship. As they wander, we begin to hear creaking and creepy music playing. The Templar skeletons begin to rise from their crates, slowly moving across the ship looking for victims. This goes on for awhile, well into the arrival of Tucker and crew.

There is plenty of dialogue that means next to nothing, with even longer stretches of silence as everyone just walks around. It is like they are just padding the runtime out so that we actually get a feature movie. So far as story and character goes, this is not a good movie. However, there is plenty to still make it worthwhile.

While I am fairly certain the budget was very small, de Ossorio was able to wring out some nice atmosphere. The ship set is nice and creepy (discounting the cheapo model used towards the end), keeping it mostly in the shadows (or darkness from this poor transfer) was a good call. Then there are the Templars, I love the bony look. They are not the usual zombies, but more like shrouded walking skeletons. Yes, the hands look pretty fake, but I still love it.

Now, the concept holds lots of promise, but in the end, it is just barely watchable. Atmosphere can only carry you so far. The final sequence is also pretty spectacular, best part of the movie and not just because of the impending credits. It is worth checking out by the genre aficionado, but this is not recommended for the rookie viewing.

Very Mildly Recommended.

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